About My Photo Workshops.
I am a teaching workshop leader, so I will not just cut you loose. You can go off on your own if you wish, but my goal is to help you get some great photos and help make you a better photographer. Whether you are already advanced or a pure beginner, I will be there to help as much or as little as you want.
I will be in touch before the workshop to help you prepare and practice, and work with you during the workshop to help you improve your skills, technique and especially your “vision”. Workshop size is small, and you will get a lot of personal attention. If the weather turns bad and we can’t get outside, we will take it inside for presentations on photography and digital workflow.
About Vermejo Park Ranch
Vermejo truly has it all, stretching from Raton, New Mexico to high mountains in southern Colorado, west toward Taos, and south to beautiful shortgrass prairies.
It is filled with history, from frontier and pioneer era settlements and mining operations to the historic Vermejo Park Lodge.
Vermejo is an amazing place for a nature photographer, with landscapes (night-time landscapes, mountain meadows, shortgrass prairies, streams, lakes and more.), wildlife (bison, prairie dogs, elk, mule deer, black bear, coyotes, golden eagles, etc.), and wildflowers galore. Add in the old mines, barns, abandoned towns, cowboy camps, and charcoal kilns and you have a photographic nirvana.
The truth is, you never know what you are going to find at Vermejo. Check out my prior blog posts from Vermejo to get a sense for some of the adventures that await us.
FOOD AND LODGING
Vermejo is first class. The accommodations vary from workshop to workshop, but all Vermejo lodging ranges from comfortable to luxurious, especially if the workshop stays at Casa Grande.
Vermejo is also known for its exquisitely prepared food including a wide selection of fresh game meats, like bison, elk, antelope and trout.
We will either eat at the lodge or picnic in the field so that we can take advantage of sunrise and sunset!
PRICING AND TIPS
All prices include lodging, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, on-site transportation and professional guides. New Mexico sales tax, store purchases, alcoholic beverages, and staff and guide gratuities are not included.
Vermejo staff and employees are dependent on tips to help them make a living. Whether and how much to tip is up to you. But I do like to give a few suggestions.
I suggest a 10% tip for Vermejo staff, which is divided amongst all of those we serve you during your stay, including kitchen staff, waitpersons, cleaning personnel, etc. You can leave a tip at your final checkout at the front desk.
We are also accompanied by a an expert Vermejo guide who helps me give you the best experience possible. He helps me scout, gets us where we need to go, handles staff and practical logistics, helps us find photo opportunities, and keeps us safe. Usually this is James Reidy, who is the best guide I have ever encountered and manages these workshops with Vermejo. All the other Vermejo guides are incredibly talented as well.
The guides likewise survive on tips, and their work is highly seasonal. If you so choose, I would suggest up to a 10% tip to the guide as well. At a minimum, I would like to see the guide make $100-200/day in tips from the group as a whole.
I am happy to discuss tipping more with the group before or during the workshop. If you are like me, tipping is always hard to figure out, and I want to be up front so you don’t feel like you are getting an unexpected shakedown! That is not how I operate and certainly not how Vermejo operates.
There is no need to tip me. You are welcome to do so, but I would much rather prefer you tip the Vermejo staff and guides.
FLYING TO VERMEJO
Denver International Airport (DEN)
8500 Peña Blvd
Denver, CO 80249
Colorado Springs Airport (COS)
7770 Milton E Proby Pkwy
Colorado Springs, CO 80916
Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ)
2200 Sunport Blvd
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Raton Municipal Airport / Crews Field (KRTN)
33788 U.S. Highway 64 W.
Raton, NM 87740
Guests will need some means of transportation (either your own, rented or chartered vehicle) to get from the airport to Vermejo itself.
Directions to Vermejo Park Ranch from Raton, New Mexico
- Exit I-25 at southern Raton Exit # 450 to South 2nd Street, which is the main drag through Raton.
- Make immediate left, turning West onto NM State Hwy 555 (also know as York Canyon Road). There is a new Tractor Supply Company store at the turnoff to Hwy 555. Once on Hwy 555, you will pass the Holiday Inn, Raton Rodeo Grounds and Western Wood Products on the left.
- Continue on Hwy 555 west for ~32 miles.
- At mile ~32, the road transitions to gravel. Slow down and look for Vermejo Park Ranch sign on the right and turn off of Hwy 555 (see next page for picture of road)
- Follow signs to Vermejo Park Ranch electronic gate and follow gate instructions (~3 miles).
- Continue through gate on the main road to the Vermejo Park Ranch Lodge and Headquarters.
- Follow signs to Guest Check-In.
Do not rely on GPS! It is not accurate. You can only get to the Ranch with the above directions.
TRANSPORTATION DURING WORKSHOP
All transportation during the workshop will be by four wheel drive pickups or utility vehicles. All vehicles will have coolers with cold drinks and snacks, and plenty of room.
I recommend that you bring a large backpack with all of your gear and tripod and put them in the back of the vehicle, and keep a camera and lens on your lap as we drive in case we encounter wildlife opportunities.
From hot to cold, rain to snow, anything is possible in Vermejo at any time of year and September can get cold. Here is my best advice:
Sturdy hiking boots or shoes. It could be wet and muddy at times, and you will need traction and ankle support. We will not have to hike very far, but may need to cross some rocky or wet ground.
If it rains, we will still have options and this can be a good time to shoot! Bring along a rain jacket (and rain pants) if you have them. If not, the Vermejo gift shot has pro gear for purchase.
It can be very chilly at times, so be sure to bring some warm layers too!
Pants and Sturdy Shoes
We will be walking through some tall grasses, so I prefer to wear long pants and sturdy shoes I am not afraid to get wet or muddy.
Camera + backup + cards
Tripod + ball head, etc.
Wide angle lens
Medium Telephoto (70-200, 100-400, etc.)
Long Lens (if you have it).
Laptop + card reader + backup drive
Small flashlight or flashlights
Polarizer (great for waterfalls, foliage, etc.)
Macro (100mm or 180mm) (great for flowers, insects, butterflies, hummingbirds, etc.)
Flash/Flash shoe cord or transmitters
Small reflector (white on one side)
window mount or bean bag
We try to keep the walking to a minimum, and we can usually drive right up to our destinations. The longest walk is usually on when we photography Castle Rock. We park nearby and walk about a ¼ mile through sage and somewhat uneven ground. Inquire beforehand if that is an issue for you. You would be welcome to photograph near the vehicle if you would rather not make that walk.
Vermejo ranges from a height of 5900 feet to over 12,000 feet. Depending on the workshop, we may explore quite high altitudes. We try to do the highest elevations at the end of the workshop so you have some time to acclimate to the altitude before you go. Please let us know if you have any health conditions sensitive to altitude and consult with your physician as necessary before you arrive.
The welfare of the land and the wildlife is important to me and to Vermejo Park Ranch, itself. All nature photographers have an impact, but we try to minimize it as much as possible by minimizing our disturbance as much as possible.
We also consult with ranch biologists as needed to ensure that our activities are not harmful.