Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Autumn has historically been one of the best times of year to travel. In years past while under the employ of others I began intentionally traveling in Autumn largely to use the legal holiday of Labor Day as a vacation day, providing the most bang for the Paid-Time-Off buck.

Joshua Tree National Park, California (2017)

Joshua Tree National Park, California (2017)

Now many years later the benefits are clear and pattern well established. Crowds of summer have dwindled. Children are back in school, parent’s vacation time is spent and many families are settling back into the rhythm of their daily work and school lives.

Fall foliage, snow and pronghorn resting along Lamar River Valley, with Specimen Ridge in the background. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Fall foliage, snow and pronghorn resting along Lamar River Valley with Specimen Ridge in background. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (2017)

We came across these Desert Bighorn Sheep on Zion’s east side one morning after sunrise. Annie had the presence of mind to record just in time. Video by my cinematic-minded wife, Annie “Coffeefish” Crane.

But the fall colors are still there. The crisp bite in the air is still tasted. The smells of damp, downed foliage permeates fresh morning air and autumn light is second to none. Animals are on the move. Skies come alive as storm systems materialize around the fringes of the seasons. In this case even the most risk/change averse must agree that the change of season is beautiful.

One of the wonderful things about shooting film is I get to enjoy it for a long time after the trip. Each roll developed, and either printed in the enlarger or scanned takes time. I've heard others site that as a demerit. I find it most enjoyable.

One of the wonderful benefits of shooting film is enjoying a trip all over again as each roll is developed, scanned or printed in the enlarger. It takes time. I’ve heard others site this as a demerit. I find it most enjoyable, allowing the after glow of a trip to be relived in the following the cold months of winter.

Rates in hotels drop significantly the last week of October and first week of November. Gas prices are usually down. Campgrounds are largely still open and far less crowded, though many campgrounds – especially further north – have been shuttered, bracing for what’s to come: the cold, snowy months of winter. In the quiet absence of crowds, one is free to – if only for a short time – experience a little peace, a little solitude, a little quiet joy.

Smaller crowds are more reverent, gathered at common viewpoints to experience sunrise or sunset with hands stuffed in jacket pockets and collars zipped high against the cold. Those out to gather the same experience are friendly, cordial, polite; respectful of what they’re experiencing.

Autumn is the perfect time to travel through out the Rocky Mountain West, Pacific Northwest and American Southwest.

“Passport To Your National Parks” passport book. After over 35 years visiting our National Parks, I finally started with this little guy in September 2017 in North Cascades National Park, which became my first stamp. Similar to a traditional passport, bring the Passport to the National Park’s Visitor’s Center and stamp for free with their ‘cancellation’ stamp, much like you’d receive upon entering a country. It’s a fun, inexpensive way to track your journey through our unmatched U.S. National Parks System.

This Autumn I have been fortunate to visit 8 National Parks, covering almost 7,000 miles of driving. As film is processed and imagery emerges the resulting photographs will be shown here first.