Yellowstone and the Grand Teton in Autumn

Why a road trip through Wyoming is a great alternative to see the colors and foliage in the fall

We all gravitate towards selected ideas and places for inspiration. A book, a meditational or inspirational music, and travel for many, including my family. The everyday mundane and the monotony of life can take a hold of us at any point in time. While being a parent of two young children can be exhausting and demanding, the beauty and the blessing is beyond measure. It is constant. It brings subtle continued joy. Finding that inspiration in the very natural form is a way back to the soul. A reset and a reminder. A reminiscence to beauty and existence.

A few month after our beautiful India was born, we decided to look for that inspiration as a family and visit Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton. It has always been a place I wanted to visit and photograph. The fall season was definitely one that enticed me to follow the idea. Even more the idea of autumn colors and grand panoramas without the large crowd that flock during the spring and summer season.

My daughter was just shy over seven month old then and my son at a very active two and a half years of age. We took the longer route and hit the road, from southern California, with a few overnight stay at different hotels, with the intention to break up the 15 hour drive to a more tolerable 4 hour drive a day. Little did we know that this trip was going to be a spectacular show of unpredictable fall weather and deep wonderful foliage colors that would paint our road trip throughout the beautiful Wyoming. Rain, sleet or snow, the un denying gorgeous sunset and sunrise paved the way to a beautiful memory of what is to be alive and breathing.

When is the best time to see the colors in Yellowstone?

The off season months of late September to October is probably the best time to see the national Parks in Wyoming as the days get shorter and the temperature drops. As the leaves get less sunlight the chlorophyll break down revealing the orange and yellow pigments that’s already in them.

The very short window of September and October bring in unpredictable fall weather but also the the surreal and dynamic beauty of nature as it truly reveal itself in the most spectacular way.

What animals can you see in Yellowstone?

Wildlife is prime during this season. During the months of September to October wildlife tend to spread out as they begin to migrate and fewer people visit the park. Enjoy the vast open valleys and roads mostly to yourself. Bears start their hibernation during this time. Bison make their way down picturesque rolling hills of yellow grass on the move in Lamar valley as they begin to migrate for the winter season.

They gather by the thousands in the Lamar and Hayden Valleys starting mid August as they begin their mating season. Elk season begins mid September. Bull elk bugle as they compete for access to a group of a dozen or so females, known as a harem. The low throaty grunt or high pitch whistle sound is an experience to your senses during the fall rut. One of the best spots to witness the elk rut is around Mammoth Hot Springs near the park’s northern entrance.

Capture packs of wolves, moose crossing, navigating their way to warmer weather in the lower valleys, bears ruffling through last harvest of the season scavenging for nuts, and berries as they begin their journey to hibernation.

Brown trout spawn during the fall season in the streams and rivers drawing avid fishers. A wonderful sight to see and experience as you wind your way down river beds.

We were lucky to see a pack of wolves near Cascade creek hunting for a game as the thin layer of snow slowly thawed in the meadows

What is the weather like in the fall in Yellowstone and The Grand Teton?

As the days gradually get shorter in the fall season, so as the temperature ranges from the mid 20 degree Fahrenheit to the lower 60 degrees. The weather is wonderfully cool and the air is crisp. There are very few tourist and travelers going through the park- the best time to soak in privately to yourself the grand welcome it brings.

Young Children in Yellowstone and the Grand Teton National Park

safety is the most important thing to consider when visiting Yellowstone or any other national parks with children. In the autumn season, make sure the kids wear comfortable and warm clothes. It is highly recommend at the minimum to bring one snow attire (snow boots, snow suites, gloves and cap) in case it starts to snow like it had our first day in the park.

Keep a safe distance when watching wildlife especially during mating season as they can charge towards you. Keep safe inside the car and bring a few binoculars instead to watch the wildlife from a safer distance.

Make sure to keep children on the pathway and closely watch them when exploring the geothermal sites and basin in Yellowstone National Park. The water temperature can reach a dangerous boiling level on these basins and springs. Stay close to them and guide them along the safe path. We used a backpack for my son to wear with a leash on to keep him within safe distance from us.

Spend the most time enjoying and exploring the landscape. The fall season can bring in early snow. It can be the perfect time to enjoy a fresh sheet of powder with the children. A wonderful photo opportunity that will surely bring candid smiles. Always remember to respect nature and keep a lookout for changes in weather as it can become unpredictable. Rain can turn to sleet and snow in a matter of minutes. Drive the roads carefully and watch for animals crossing. Bring in a few snacks for the kids.

India and Joycee enjoying the crisp air as the last few hours of sunlight illuminated the fresh sheet of snow along the way to one of our destination.

The itinerary

The 15 hour drive from souther California was broken down into three separate days driving 4-5 hours a day. Our first night stay was at one of the non casino hotels in Las Vegas. We drove four hours early morning the next day to Salt Lake City Utah and stayed the night there. Our third day was a beautiful scenic drive through the northern part of Utah, Idaho and a little bit of Montana with some hint of rain. We encountered a drop in temperature as we made our way to Wyoming and was surprised to see a welcome snow shower in Yellowstone National Park.

The next day the sky opened up to a sunny blue autum day. A beautiful foliage and blanket of snow painted a surreal vista and scenic byways.

Lamar valley

Often called America’s Serengeti, Lamar Valley and Hayden valley is one to explore and drive to. This valley is teaming with wild animals ranging from herd of bison, elk, moose and if you’re lucky enough, foxes and pack of wolves roam this fertile valley as they begin their migration in the fall for a warmer environment for the winter.

We recommend making this your first trip as it is the farthest to most of the site to see. It is located in the northeastern part of the national park.

Mammoth Hot Spring

Closer to the north entrance, this geothermal wonder is a sight to see. Looking from a distance is like looking into a cave that’s outside in. The hot water that travel through fault line from Norris Geyser is a few more degrees cooler. The superficial expression of the volcanic activity beneath rises through limestones and rocks broken down by the thermal water. A deposit of whitish crystal on the surface make this for a very unique expression of nature.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

The canyon itself is the grandest of view from any hike around the rim with multiple overlooks and vista spot you can access to. This paleocanyon was formed many hundred thousands of years ago with the Yellowstone river eroding its current formation, continually widening and deepening the canyon. The sediments and the hydrothermally altered rhyolite bring out the beautiful different hues that’s expressed in the rocks.

This visual and panoramic view make you stop to absorb its grandeur elements. Bring binoculars and if you are lucky enough you might catch a glimpse of an osprey tending its nest.

Norris Geyser

Norris Geyser was named after the second superintendent of Yellowstone who provided the information about the thermal features of the area.

The geothermal basin is accessed through a boardwalk that stretches to two areas: Porcelain basin is barren of trees and the back basin which is heavily wooded area.

The basin is a wonderful experience of visual colorful geothermal pool with a sensory smell and hissing sound. It is the oldest and hottest thermal area in Yellowstone. It is an easy walk with an accessible boardwalk that loops around.


The Grand Prismatic Spring

Thermophile bacteria living within the thermal pool make up the rainbow colored hue that paint the vast and enormous space and depth of this hot spring. It is with no question why this landscape is the most photographed within the park. This phenomenon of bacteria thriving in extreme temperature has led to scientific research and advancement in medical and human genome sequencing. Interesting fact: These microbes have led to the development of the PCR test, including the COVID-19 testing.

Just a few distance from this wonder, the hot thermal spring drain into the cooler waters of the river into what is called the Fire hole. A beautiful meeting where fire and ice collide. It is expressed in vaporized mist most striking to one standing next to it.

It is also most famous for fly fishing during the early and late season. Abundance of trout can be found here and make for a picturesque landscape as the fume of evaporated mist rise above the winding river. Fishermen bring in the extra element, making it a unique and picturesque scene.

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in north America at 7,733 feet above sea Level. It has the largest population of wild cutthroat trout in North America. A Pacific Ocean fish trapped in a lake that drains to the Atlantic Ocean. It is believed that fish swam across the Continental Divide at two Ocean Pass.

Moose Falls

As we drove close to the south entrance and into the Grand Teton National park, I couldn’t help but stop near Moose falls to absorb the wonderful light captured by the landscape as the sunset penetrated the deep mystique glow of the hour. We’ve seen bears on the tree and moose crossing the snake river here.

As the intense fall tones complimented the warm colorful sky, the deep yellow colors of the aspen trees hinted our passage to the grandest of grand- The Teton mountains.

Grand Teton National Park

The rolling clouds and deep Autumn colors with a mystique touch of the majestic snow capped peaks somehow ties in all that natures beauty can produce- in a very unified way collectively, drawing one to contemplate and find oneself. Awe inspired. The America Indians that roam this very land many years ago had 10,000 different languages in all its tribes but non of them had a single word for ownership or possession. This beautiful concept continued to reveal itself in the serene landscape and how the wild coexist with nature in a beautiful harmony.

On this photo above near Jackson Lake, somehow the snow capped mountains depict an image of one of my favorite author and philosopher with esoteric ideas, GI Gurdjieff. He taught that most humans do not possess a unified consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”. He attempted a method that attain a higher consciousness and achieve full human potential. One of his many works, the dance or Gurdgieff movement, a new sense of inner rhythm, a relaxed alertness, a natural silence and grace…which leads to The Fourth Way… which is the way of the Sufi

Truly awakening the senses in our journey through the Teton mountains aligned my deep longing for nature opening my higher psyche to beauty. My deep love for mountains, its might and gentle splendid caress. My own awakening from a deep slumber of reality to my contact with the sublime.

The Town Square of Jackson hole features arches made of shed antlers from the nearby National Elk Refuge. A lovely quaint town with lively atmosphere full of charm.

It is a great place to find shops and restaurant. The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson hole preserves an exhibit of wildlife art. The core collections reflect traditional and contemporary realism.

We found a beautiful sight of a moose crossing near Jackson Lake. A serene gentle surprise of a wild in its natural habitat.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art overlooks the elk refuge with a beautiful rainbow forming after the rain | Jackson Hole

Mormon Barn

To fully immerse yourself in the majestic landscape of the Teton mountain ranges you have to see it in different lighting- time of the day. What I did was set an alarm at 03:30 in the morning, prepared my camera equipment, made myself a nice hot coffee to go and put on three layers of clothing to keep me warm. I made sure to have a scarf on and warm gloves. I headed out, in the almost single digit temperature, at about four in the morning to secure a spot here.

The T. A. Moulton Barn in early crisp Autumn day as the sun gently graced the majestic peaks in Jackson Hole

During this time the road was dark but thankfully the moon was still out to illuminate a path for me. I set up my camera on a tripod and enjoyed myself a warm cup of coffee. I reflected and meditated on the beautiful blue hour and silhouette mountain peaks before the batch of group photographers came by at around five in the morning. Everyone else was behind and around me at this time. I had my spot secured and made sure to position the frame with a 50mm lens. As the sun started to rise, I quickly metered a few test shots and quickly snap a sequence of photos as the morning sun glow painted the beautiful snow capped peaks. It only happened for a few seconds and the color and intensity quickly shift from a beautiful orange morning glow to a more subdued gradient of earth colors. I was lucky enough to have captured a beautiful shot of the iconic view before the fog rolled in to blur the panoramic scene.

A different but equally and undeniably beautiful scene later that day as I returned to the barn with the whole family. I used a gradient filter to even out the exposure from the more brighter skies.

As I headed back to the cabin at around seven in the morning, I spotted few wonderful vistas of lovely autumn colors and diffused light that can only be enjoy during this time of the day and on an even cloudy skies.

We had a wonderful family breakfast that day and readied the kids to see the barn and find a few photographic opportunity as the crowd tend to disperse around ten in the morning.

The cool breeze and the sunny day complimented our steady pace and enjoyed the wonderful autumn weather with the mighty Tetons in the backdrop.


We had a wonderful accommodation at the Teton village fireside resort. This cabin style accommodation boast a unique and rustic modern cabin retreat with beautiful aspen trees surrounding it. A fresh approach to luxury lodging in Wilson, Wyoming.

Memories in Photographs

Photography in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park is a dream come true for any avid photographer like myself. The vibrant colors of fall and the migrating animals all coincide into this beauty that magnify its surreal surrounding.

My deep longing for a portra 160 film colors was realized here as I shot a sequence of family photos behind beautiful foliage. The overcast day helped subdue the contrast and brought out that very nostalgia of a fine film that I love to shoot for portraiture.

The Grand design

It is incredible to say the least to have been able to drive up to this active and geological location and immerse the senses in subliminal euphoria of colors and nature, an unpredictable yet tranquil state of submission.

The beautiful sunset that touches the very last snowcapped mountains and the serene view of idle fog and steaming earth that combine the very extreme temperature, surely will humble you to notice what nature is capable in the very disguised form and truest existence.

The children and the foliage is a bit of a dream and a pleasant delirious state as you walk in this very ground of true beauty and subtle wild. I can never put to words how dynamic and complex this very landscape that deliberately elevates your connection with nature. Somehow it is ok to be dwarfed by those colossal mighty and towering mountain ranges and pulsating geothermal geyser that echo its might and power. Sometimes in your life you have to notice and find yourself in one to fully open all the senses and be in an awakening state, and stage in your travel.

The creator of the universe, from the constellations and the nebulas to the very steady streams of tranquil and high peak mountain ranges, speak to us continuously in a form undeniable perfected through nature’s elaborate beauty and grace.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration | Grand Teton National Park, in the community of Moose

When we cross that bridge to seek to travel and intently displace ourselves in the truest form of nature, we begin to see life echo through the very beauty of the mountains, the changing seasons and foliage colors, and what energy it releases to you as you let nature take its course. It paints a true season in your life to long for a deeper connection with nature. A photographic journey of colors thats forever remembered, imprinted in the mind. They say the same about music and how it can repair neurons in the brain to regain one’s memory.

Thank you for the coffee.

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