Sierra Nevada East Side: Autumn Colors, Ghost Towns and Mono Lake


Sierra Nevada East Side: Autumn Colors, Ghost Towns and Mono Lake


Sunday through Wednesday, October 20-23, 2019

Click on the small photos for a larger view. Click on large photos for full-size views. 

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Join Image Quest on a photo tour to the east side of the massive Sierra Nevada Mountains. We'll turn our creative eyes on Bodie, the greatest ghost town in the West, with over 500 structures still standing. We'll look for - and even learn how to create - autumn color in the mountains. We will also visit spectacular and eerie Mono Lake, with it's strange salt towers rising out of the water. During this pleasant time of year,  we can expect to find our various locations with relatively few other people. The sun, low in the autumnal heavens, will allow us hours of good light each day, in a part of California that is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

The Basics

Dates: Sunday through Wednesday, October 20-23, 2019

Cost: $450.00.

Trip difficulty: None; conducted at a photographer's pace. There will be some walking, including through the ghost town of Bodie, and at Mono Lake. Participants should be able to walk at least a mile over the course of a couple hours (although we will walk less than that distance at any one stop).

Transportation: Via private vehicle; trip leader will help make carpooling arrangements between those who need rides and those who can offer rides.  Contact Dave Wyman if you are flying into California for the trip and need help with to land, etc.

Carpooling: We encourage everyone to carpool when and where possible. We'll send around, with your permission, a list of participants as the trip date nears, for those who want to carpool. We also want to carpool once we're in our accommodations in Bridgeport. 

Weather: Expect cool morning and evening temperatures, and mild to warm days. Rain and even snow are possible, but not likely.

NOTE: Ken and Dave are conducting a photo trip to Yosemite, on the west side of the Sierras, just prior to the east side trip. If you'd like to double down, click here for information on the Yosemite outing, which is sponsored by the Yosemite Conservancy.

Who is This Trip for, What is it About?

If you enjoy photography and have a desire to make photographs throughout the course of a few days, at a leisurely pace from dawn to sunset, in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, this trip is for you. 

Our purpose will be to visually explore the natural world around us. In the process we will explore who we are, too, in relation to that natural world, expressed through the creative artistry brought to our photographs. And we'll have a chance to explore relatively recent history, at the ghost town of Bodie, where human events played out in harsh surroundigs.

Trip leaders have conducted this outing over the course of many years, and they will do their best to insure that we balance the need to spend enough time enjoy a location, but not at such length as to bore our group.

Our group, from participants to instructors, will act as force multipliers, as we learn from each other, looking through viewfinders and LCDs, talking about what we're looking at. 

What the Trip Isn't: This isn't an outing where the instructors will give lectures during the hours we can be out making photographs; it isn't a trip that will spend much indoor-time on computers. 

Trip Leaders

Dave Wyman - his photographs of Bodie have appeared Outdoor Photographer, Cross-Country Skier, the California State Parks Guidebook and his book, Backroads of Northern California. He is the author and photographer of three other pictorial guidebooks (Backroads of Southern California and Yosemite in Photographs, Yosemite in Photographs, and Fearless Photographer: Nature,). Dave has conducted photography tours since 1982, for the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Sierra Club, the University of Southern California, the Yosemite Association, and the Los Angeles Zoo. His unbridled passion for travel and photography have led him and the groups he conducts to locations throughout California, the Southwest, Oregon, and Yellowstone. Dave takes his camera up onto high mountains summits, down to rugged coastlines, and along remote roads in the western U.S, both by car and on a bicycle. 

Ken Rockwell is known internationally for his website, He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about photography. He can answer any question about any point-and-shoot digicam, film cameras, and the latest digital cameras. He is particularly well versed in the use of Nikon, Canon and Leica equipment. His loyal readers - who number in the many thousands each day - enjoy his often iconoclastic and sometimes controversial essays  on understanding art, on dealing with the technology of photography, etc. – as well as his detailed reviews of camera gear. A Southern California resident much of his life, Ken has explored much of California and the Southwest with his camera, including explorations of Death Valley,  New Mexico, and stretches of historic Route 66, where he's shared his knowledge and love of photography with fellow photographers. Visit Ken at


Stay in the little town of Bridgeport, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Trip leaders will stay at the quaint and comfortable  Redwood Motel, as we have for several years past, and participants are invited to stay there, too. Limited space is available; however, there are several places to say in town, all within a stone's throw of each other. For those who wish to stay with Ken and Dave, it's first come, first served. Mention to the innkeeper that you're on the photo tour that weekend. If you’re joining us, call the Redwood Motel directly for a room reservation. Be sure to mention you’re part of the photo group.


We'll have a first group meal (dinner in town) and snacks and water for the group throughout the trip. We'll be near places to purchase food at other meal times, including the amazing "gourmet" fast food restaurant, the "Whoa Nellie Deli" in Lee Vining (which is reason enough for coming on he trip); we'll make a couple of stops at the "deli." Participants may bring their own food and there are local markets as well as a variety of other restaurants. You'll want to bring snacks and water for when we're photographing away from the towns we'll otherwise be near.


Day one, arrive by 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Bridgeport Motel, meet the group, Dave and Ken, and then we'll head out on a drive east of town to photograph some unusual architecture and beautiful scenery. We'll have presentation by Ken, after our group dinner. 

Day 2, we'll photograph dawn over Mono Lake and views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We'll explore Lee Vining Canyon with its colorful aspens and massive granite surroundings. Then it's off to the ghost town of Bodie in the afternoon. 

Day 3, it's dawn on the shore of Mono Lake. Then we'll travel the June Lake Loop, looking for more autumn color and spectacular landscapes. In the afternoon we'll visit impressive Lundy Canyon or head north of Bridgeport (depending on where the most color can be found). 

Day 4, we'll depart Bridgeport for a final sunrise session at the beautiful Brideport hot springs, have breakfast and then time together will officially end by late morning, after breakfast.  

What you need to Bring:
- A sense of adventure
- Clothes for cool and warm conditions, including rain gear and a ski cap for cool mornings and evenings (expect good weather)
- Mittens (or gloves - an extra pair of socks will work, too)
- Shoes (tennis shoes or boots or any comfortable walking shoes; consider bringing along an extra pair of shoes, just in case)      
- Money for for meals not provided (there are restaurants and markets in Bridgeport and nearby Lee Vining)
- $7 for the entry fee to the ghost town of Bodie, separate from a special state parks group fee that's included in the cost of the trip
- Camera gear (see below)
Optional: If you would like to share some of your images with the group, bring along up to a dozen digital images on your laptop or tablet or phone. If you make prints, feel free to bring some.    

What is Provided by Image Quest:
- Trip leaders
- Group dinner, snacks and water
- Guided photo walks
- Photographic instruction
- Evening sessions
- Special entry fees  
- Help with accommodations in Bridgeport, CA (participants are invited to stay with the instructors, see above)
- Post-trip photo critiques

Camera Equipment: a basic digital or 35mm camera will work well. Don't feel the need to purchase special equipment. However, for those with more gear, bring it along - this is the time to use it. A good accessory: a tripod (along with a remote or wired shutter release) will allow photography early and late in the day. Good filters: a polarizer and a graduated neutral density filter (the latter can be somewhat duplicated with software). 

Medium format photographers are welcome, too. The instructors will probably bring along both film and digital cameras.

We can view digital images from participants during the evenings, if time and stamina permits. Feel free to bring along a dozen or so images to shareon your laptop or tablet). 

Memory and power: Bring enough CF or SD cards to contain several hundred photographs. Cameras will be working all day, so sufficient battery power is important. Don't forget a battery charger. Consider an extra battery if you bring a film camera.

Film: There are many choices; the instructors like Fujichrome films for slides. Both Fuji and Kodak make excellent print films.

To register: Use the link on this webpage, send payment to Image Quest, 1164 Alvira Street, Los Angeles, California, 90035 or use and a credit card (check with Dave first, and let him know if you would like help using paypal). A $100 deposit will hold your place. Full payment due two weeks before the trip runs.

Cancellations: The $100 deposit is not refundable. No refunds for cancellations made two weeks or less before the trip runs, unless another person signs onto the trip, in which case there is a $100 cancellation fee.

Remember, if you do join us, and you want to stay with Dave and Ken, make a reservation at the Redwood Motel, in Bridgeport, California. And call the motel directly for a reservation.