Annual Conference

RMOWP heads to Estes Park, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park, for its 46th conference September 9-12, 2019 (that’s Monday afternoon through Thursday evening). Headquarters will be at the 800 Moraine Avenue Event Center at Trout Haven Resorts, just outside the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The national park is extremely popular. There were 4,590,493 visitors last year –– third highest among national parks –– so advance planning is important.

snow-capped mountains
Early morning view into the park from Trout Haven Resorts in early November 2018.
© Don Laine

For the tentative schedule – click here.
To see some lodging possibilities – click here.

ACTIVITIES: Here’s what we’ve got lined up so far…  

GUIDED TOURS: In addition to providing time to explore the park on your own, there are two guided trips with Rocky Mountain Conservancy (the local non-profit national park partner) in their vehicles with their professional guides. Both trips start at the same time, after lunch on Tuesday, so you can take only one

A high-elevation tour takes you up Trail Ridge Road to about 12,300 feet, stopping at various viewpoints, including the Beaver Meadows Overlook, Rainbow Curve, Forest Canyon Overlook, Alpine Visitor Center, and coming back to the Rock Cut Viewpoint, one of the best spots in the park to view the sunset, in time for – guess what? – sunset! Along the way you’ll get good views of tundra and see some of the most spectacular scenery in the park, including a variety of wildlife, especially smaller mammals such as marmots.

Those not wanting to travel quite that high into the clouds can opt for the lower-elevation tour. It gets up to about 9,450 feet, with stops along the way at Moraine Park – one of the best places to see elk at this time of year and hear the males bugle – plus see several mountain lakes, including Sheep Lakes, where we hope to spot bighorn sheep. Another stop will be at the park’s popular Alluvial Fan, a big cascade of water over fan-shaped deposits of rock and other material created by a major flood in 1982. This tour will conclude at Beaver Meadows Overlook for sunset views of the Continental Divide before heading back to town.

The high-elevation tour will provide more spectacular scenic views but fewer opportunities to see elk because this is mating season, and most elk have come down from the higher elevations to find mates. The elk mating season is known as the rut, from the Latin word for roar, because of the bulls’ call, called a bugle. However, Moraine Park is just ten minutes or so from our meeting room so those going on the high-elevation tour can easily get there on their own Wednesday or some other evening, and likely see plenty of elk.

A simple box supper (basically a box lunch served in the evening) is included in the tour fee, and be aware that seating is limited so please get your registrations in as soon as possible.

WORKSHOPS: In addition to plenty of time for exploration, we’ve planned several exciting and even educational workshops. 

A five-hour pre-conference writing workshop, “The Glint of Light on Broken Glass: Building Imagery in Your Writing” will be presented Monday morning and early afternoon by nature writer Mary Taylor Young (, RMOWP’s annual contest writing judge and author of numerous books and articles, including one of her most recent books, Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years.
About the workshop Mary tells us: “Vivid imagery creates a strong sense of place and draws readers into the world of your writing, helping them engage with the emotions of the characters (or if nonfiction, of you as “narrator”). Sessions on craft and techniques will alternate with writing drills and in-the-field writing time to practice new techniques, and this workshop will also help photographers plan and set up shots to create more effective photo essays. Take your writing to the next level by building powerful images that enliven your prose, enhance your photos and engage your reader. This workshop will incorporate a PowerPoint presentation, in-class writing drills, and outdoor writing time.”

Tuesday morning, before the guided tours of the park, we’ll have a program on “Shooting Rocky Mountain National Park,” with tips on photographing the park by Colorado photographer Fred Lord ( A longtime instructor with RMOWP’s annual photo workshop held in Rocky Mountain National Park each June and the photography judge for RMOWP’s annual contest, Fred has had a successful career in architectural and home interior photography, and now specializes in nature, landscape, wildlife, and adventure sports photography.

Also Tuesday morning, Mary Taylor Young returns to present a writing workshop, “Finding a Narrative Thread.” She tells us, “Effectively-rendered nonfiction is not just a collection of facts. To resonate with an audience, it needs a narrative framework. Where do you begin and how do you tease the ‘story’ out of your topic? Whether you are writing only text or want to enhance your photos, a narrative thread gives intention and structure to your presentation. Attendees are encouraged to bring works-in-progress (text and/or photos) to practice on.”

Wednesday’s workshops include “Gadgets, Gizmos, and Gew Gaw: Gear to Make You a Better Writer or Photographer,” by Bill Horton ( An experienced writer and photographer, Bill will lead this interactive discussion of tools, tips, hacks, and tricks that help writers and photographers work faster and better. He will demonstrate purchases that proved good long-term investments, and along the way, you as the workshop participants will contribute by sharing what works for you. The presentation will cover items of value to both photographers and writers, ranging from a retractable fountain pen to clothing that renders photographers invisible. About himself, he tells us, “Bill Horton has squandered buckets of bucks on X-ray glasses, decoder rings, and virus-like software. By luck and the law of odds, he has stumbled on some things that actually work.”

Also Wednesday, Kit Horton ( will present “Get Found and Noticed.” Kit tells us: “You built it but they didn’t come. Your superb writings and photographs are going unsold, and worse, undiscovered. Let’s face facts. You are competing with 1.8 billion (with a B!) other websites, with 14,000 new ones every day. In this presentation you will learn the secret to attracting eyes and minds to your content, namely optimizing your Website for search engines like Google. Yes that is a thing. It is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO among the cool kids. You will learn techniques such as picking key words that match what people search for, crafting titles that pop to the top of the list, and writing enticing descriptions that manifest the value of your content. And you’ll discover more tools and techniques to make finding your images and writings simple and easy.

AND THE USUAL: The writers’ forum, photo critique, showcase of selected members’ photography, sunrise photo shoot, presentation of contest submissions, and plenty of food, drink, and camaraderie.