Photography

In the Pikes Peak Region

The Pikes Peak Region offers a wide variety of year-round photographic opportunities to satisfy just about any visual interest. Of course, there’s no shortage of locations for nature photography with our landscapes that range from mountainous terrain to high plains. Our numerous parks and open spaces also offer chances to photograph wildlife and many bird species. Visit the area’s cities and towns to photograph modern and historic architecture as well as street art. And don’t forget our skies, especially after dark, for photographing the stars and the Milky Way.

Requirements

Permits are required for commercial shoots and workshops on National Forest Service, BLM, El Paso County and City of Colorado Springs properties. Permits are required for night photography in El Paso County Parks since they are closed from dark until dawn.

Be Sure to Bring:

  • A variety of lenses
  • A sturdy tripod
  • Plenty of memory cards
  • Polarizing and UV filters
  • Good rain gear (thunderstorm activity is very common in summertime afternoons)
  • Warm clothing (for preventing hypothermia even in the summer months since temperatures can drop drastically, especially at high altitudes)
  • Plenty of water
  • Sunscreen

Getting Started

Getting started capturing great photos takes nothing more than your cell phone. If you’re more serious about photography, you’ll want to have an interchangeable-lens camera with wide-angle and telephoto lenses and a sturdy tripod. Of course, the subjects you want to photograph will drive what equipment you’ll want in your kit. Wide-angle lenses are great for landscapes, telephoto lenses are best for wildlife and birds, and a macro lens can come in handy for flowers. You’ll definitely want a tripod for those colorful sunrise and sunset photos, and you’ll get the most out of a rainbow with a circular polarizing filter.

Pro Tip

Practice patience and mindfulness while you’re taking photos in nature. Being present and connecting to your surroundings helps you to notice smaller details around you that can be the key factor for a great picture. Getting great photographs is all about enjoying your experience.

Be Prepared

One of the biggest things to be prepared for is the weather. Always bring rain gear and warm clothing, especially when hiking to higher elevations. Apps like PhotoPills are great tools for planning your outing since they can provide information like times for sunrise/sunset, moonrise/moonset and the visibility of the Milky Way.

Be sure to pack
  • Camera
  • Proper Weather Attire
  • Sunscreen
  • Water

Outdoor Ethics for Photography

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are reprinted with the permission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information, visit www.LNT.org.

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.

Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.

In popular areas

  • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.

In pristine areas

  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
  • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.

To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Gear & Services

Guided Adventures

Featured Places to Explore

Curated trails & experiences

Victor

Victor is a great place to photograph historic buildings while walking around town. You can also hike a trail system that brings you to old mining…
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Florissant Fossil Beds

Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to…
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Homestead Ranch Park

Located at the edge of Black Forest this 450 acre regional park has diverse topography ranging from rolling, open meadows to tree-covered bluffs running the length…
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Fountain Creek Nature Center

Walk the wetlands, search for great blue herons, and explore Fountain Creek – only 15 minutes south of downtown Colorado Springs! An “oasis on the plains”…
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Mueller State Park

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A popular watchable wildlife area, Mueller is home to abundant wildlife including elk, black bear, hawks, and mule deer. Mueller State Park has over 5,000 acres…
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Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Enjoy Cheyenne Mountain State Park year round! Renew your spirit and connect with the outdoors while enjoying the sunny but cool days. Enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing,…
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North Cheyenne Canon

North Cheyenne Cañon Park is located on the southwest side of Colorado Springs.  North Cheyenne Cañon Park is cut 1,000-feet deep into the 1.5 billion-year-old granite rock. This…
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Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300′ towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak…
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More Information

Local Photography Blogs:

Hiking Bob

Local Photography Groups:

The Colorado Photography Learning Group

Beyond the Lens

Colorado Springs Creative Photography Group

Guided Photography:

3 Peaks Photography & Design

The content on this page was provided by Three Peaks Photography

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