2020 Gunnison River Workshop

John Fielder Photography Workshops Information

2020 Spring Photography Workshop

with John Fielder on the Gunnison River

May 15-18, 2020 Friday Evening – Monday

$1,495 per person

Maximum 7 participants

Join Colorado’s premier landscape photographer, John Fielder, on this exciting Gunnison Gorge 14-mile wilderness rafting journey, below Black Canyon National Park in western Colorado. It promises spectacular canyon scenery with unlimited photographic opportunities both rafting on the river and climbing to the top of mesas. Day hikes in pleasant temperatures afford opportunities to photograph desert wildflowers and cactus along with views of the river from above. A true John Fielder experience, you’ll be out of touch with the rest of the world, focusing on the beauty of nature and the rhythm of river life for three idyllic days

Be prepared for a one-mile hike down the Chuckar Trail that brings you to the river and the narrow canyon carved through the polished Protereozoic schist and gneiss formations. Meet your guides, board your raft and experience mild rapids punctuating crystal clear pools on your first day of this secluded retreat. An isolated camp on the first night provides a peaceful refuge to enjoy a surprisingly sumptuous dinner before a session of photography in the evening light. The next day, the canyon combines narrow passages with exciting pool-drop rapids and, depending on the water level, Class III rapids demand either intricate maneuvering or a wild dash through boat swamping holes and waves. Again, we’ll set up camp, enjoy dinner and photograph in the evening light. After a rush of whitewater on the last day, the Hall of the River King envelops us in a mystical silence prior to the canyon walls receding to rolling sage hills. A lunch stop at Smith Fork provides a fun opportunity to explore the waterfalls and drop pools of a side canyon. The trip concludes at the confluence with the North Fork of the Gunnison River at a campground called Pleasure Park.

This Workshop offers a well-rounded and highly resourceful educational experience, appropriate for any level of outdoor photographer and nature lover, but especially for beginners and intermediates. No participant should feel that he or she is not qualified to attend. Limited enrollment of 7 participants gives everyone quality time with John Fielder and ensures that each person gets the specific instruction needed based on their individual level of experience. Personalized field instruction addresses the photographer’s needs related to both understanding camera functions and techniques of composition.

The photographer with an interest in fly fishing will enjoy one of Colorado's finest Gold Medal fisheries dominated by Rainbow and Brown trout. Combining these activities will pack your day with action from dawn till dark.

All meals are included.

The trip is coordinated by Arkansas River Tours, one of Colorado’s finest river outfitters.


Friday through Monday, May  15-18, 2020


Gunnison Gorge in western Colorado, on one of the most exclusive trips in America, rafting below the Black Canyon National Park, covering 14 miles in 3 days, offering exceptional scenery and Gold Medal trout fishing.


Seeing and photographing the natural landscape and taking each participant to the next skill level.

Who’s It For      

Photographers of all skill levels; limited to 7 participants.

Camping Needs  

Please refer to the Packing List, below.  Note: This trip requires special attention to packing because all personal gear is transferred into a waterproof pack with shoulder straps and carried by each participant down the trail, an easy one-mile hike to the river. Plan to pack light! Bag is 16" in diameter x 33" high, the size of a medium capacity backpack.


$1,495 includes curriculum designed and presented by John Fielder, slide show presentation, one-on-one instruction, sunrise and sunset photo shoots, river transportation, all meals, river guides.


Friday night accommodations are not included in the Workshop. Refer to Lodging Information, below.

Approximate Schedule

Day 1

  • 5:30 p.m. - Dinner at Daveto's Italian Restaurant, 520 Main Street in Delta, Colorado

Day 2

  • 7:30 a.m. - Meet at Gunnison River Pleasure Park in Lazear, Colorado, on Colorado Hwy 92, 14 miles east of Delta, take van to trail head, hike one mile to river, meet guides
  • 11:00 a.m.  - On the river
  •  12:00 p.m.  - Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. - On the river
  • 3:00 p.m. - Set up camp, scout photo locations
  • 5:00 p.m. - Dinner
  • 6:00 p.m. - Evening shoot

Day 3

  • 5:30 a.m. - Morning shoot
  • 9:00 a.m. - Breakfast
  • 10:30 a.m. - On the river
  • 12:30 p.m. - Lunch, set up camp, scout photo locations
  • 5:00 p.m. - Dinner
  • 6:00 p.m. - Evening shoot

Day 4

  • 5:30 a.m. - Morning shoot
  • 9:30 a.m. - On the river
  • 12:00 p.m. – Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. - On the river
  • 3:00 p.m. - Trip ends


The Workshop begins at the restaurant in Delta and ends at Gunnison River Pleasure Park in Lazear (visit or call 970-872-2525).

Getting There

Delta is approximately 277 miles from Denver. The trip takes about 4 1/2 hours in perfect weather. Add 30 minutes to one hour if you are coming from the Denver airport. The basic driving directions are I-70 West towards Grand Junction. Take Exit 37 towards US 6/Clifton. A left turn takes you to 32 Rd/CO 141 S. Then, pick up US 50 E to Delta. The next morning, Lazear is 14 miles east of Delta on CO 92. When you get to Lazear, turn onto a dirt road at the Pleasure Park sign.


Delta does not have any 4 star hotels. The best of the motels are Quality Inn and Days Inn.

Booksigning & Portfolio

On Friday night, John Fielder will be happy to autograph any of his books or calendars that you bring to the Workshop. If time permits, John will review and critique a small portfolio of your previous work after the workshop.

Camera Equipment

  • A 35mm digital SLR or Mirrorless camera is recommended. Lenses should cover the zone between no less than 18 and 135mm for non-full sensor (such as APS-C) cameras, or 28 and 200mm for cameras with full size  sensors, plus tripod and cable or remote release. (Your two-second shutter release is a good backup plan!) We highly recommend bringing a point and shoot, too. They are so easy to use for close-ups and more flexible for hard-to-position compositions. SLRs are packed in dry bags during the day and are only accessible for sunrise and sunset photography. Your point and shoot is used to photograph from the boats. You have invested a lot in this workshop. The last thing we want to happen is that your experience comes to a halt because of an equipment failure. Although we can work through many situations with equipment problems, it is best to make sure your camera, lenses and tripod are working properly. Please run tests of your equipment, especially if it has been in storage.
  • Canon and Nikon brands are best, but we can work with anything. Most brands do the exact same thing and have the same controls. In addition to the lens focal lengths mentioned above, you can achieve more extreme depth of focus, very useful for wildflower compositions, with even wider-angle lenses down to 10mm for small sensor cameras and 16mm for full size sensor.
  • Tripod - We recommend the Manfrotto brand for ease of use and quality. They make two sizes, the smaller of which works fine for most SLR setups, but for taller people and those using longer focal length telephoto lenses, we recommend the larger tripod. Pistol grip heads are best. Your local camera store can set you straight.
  • Camera Pack - Lowe Pro packs are best, but Tamrac brand runs a close second. Choose packs no larger than what you need for your camera gear. The most useful packs have a separate upper compartment for water bottle, snacks and raingear. Many have space for a laptop computer, which is great, but it will not be necessary for you to bring it into the field.
  • B & H Photo online is a good reliable resource from which to get gear, but we do recommend Mike’s Camera in Denver and Boulder for a complete selection of gear. Their prices are very close to those of B & H, and they give great service and have lots of stock. Their prices are very close to those of B & H, and they give great service and have lots of stock.
  • Click HERE for more camera ideas.

Packing List

This trip requires special attention to your packing because all your personal gear is transferred into a waterproof pack with shoulder straps and carried by you down the Chuckar Trail, an easy one mile hike to the river. PACK LIGHT! Please call us if you have questions. Your bag is 16” in diameter x 33” high, the size of a medium capacity backpack.

SLEEPING &  SHELTER            

  •  Tent – lightweight, backpacking type
  • Sleeping pad – ensolite or similar
  • Sleeping bag – lightweight, compact, backpacking type


  • Hat for sun protection
  • Polypro or synthetic layers (top & bottoms)
  • Shorts or swimsuit – quick drying
  • Tennis shoes or sport sandals with straps
  • Wool or polypro socks
  • Rain parka and pants


  • Short sleeved shirt
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Jacket or sweater (fleece recommended)
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Camp shoes or lightweight hiking boots
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Gloves or mittens (early trips)


  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Prescription medications
  • Sunglasses with retainer strap
  • Retainer strap for prescription glasses
  • Biodegradable soap and small towel
  • Lotion


  • Alcoholic beverages – in unbreakable containers, beer in limited quantity
  • Pocket knife
  • Camp chair – folding, compact only
  • Camera and film in water proof container
  • Binoculars
  • Reading or writing material
  • Insect repellant
  • Fishing gear and license

Notes from John

As an extra guide for getting your gear together, here is John’s personal packing list

  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain gear – jacket and pants – or a poncho at the very least
  • Heavy fleece
  • Medium fleece
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Two t-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Wool socks
  • Medium weight hiking boots
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag and pad
  • Waterproof cover for camera pack – Dvorak Expeditions provides dry bags for gear.

More Notes

  • All meals are provided from dinner in Delta until the end of the raft trip. If you have favorite food items or snacks you’d like to bring, please do.
  • There is a portable toilet at the camp sites.
  • There will be beer and wine on the trip. If you wish other beverages packed on the boat, contact Bill Dvorak. See More Information & Registration.


If you are coming to Colorado from a significantly lower altitude, it is important to think about the potential affects of altitude on your body and to take some simple steps to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Preventative measures taken before and during your stay will help avoid problems associated with altitude sickness. Although most people may only experience some shortness of breath with a little exertion, others are more prone to headaches and sleep disruptions, fatigue, nausea and decreased appetite. You will also notice the aridity -- the humidity hovers around 20%.

Here are some tips:

  • Drink extra fluids, such as juices and Gatorade with copious amounts of water, a few days before and during your entire stay. Staying well hydrated in the dry mountain environment is very important to offset the effects of altitude.
  • Avoid over-exertion and get as much rest as possible.
  • Eat lightly.
  • Drink a lot of water, but do it slowly.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages. One drink at altitude equals two drinks at sea level; alcohol promotes dehydration.

About John Fielder

  • John Fielder has worked tirelessly to promote the protection of Colorado’s open space and wildlands. His photography has influenced people and legislation, earning him recognition including the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award in 1993, and in 2011 the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award given to an individual. He was an original governor-appointed member of the lottery-related Board of Great Outdoors Colorado, and speaks to thousands of people each year to rally support for timely land use and environmental issues.
  • John often talks about the politics of the environment in his Workshops. If you think you might be offended by his views, you might want to consider a Workshop taught by a less committed photographer!

Notes, Terms and Conditions


While the basic Workshop format is set (classroom lecture, slide show, field shoots), the schedule is subject to change to meet the needs of the group.


We reserve the right to determine acceptability of weather conditions for field shoots. If weather interferes, additional indoor programs may be held.

Cancellation Policy

  • Your payment is non-refundable if you cancel for any reason. However, your payment may be applied to a future Workshop provided that we can fill your reserved space with someone from the wait list. If we cancel the Workshop, your payment is fully refundable.
  • Sometimes unexpected circumstances cause you to cancel or interrupt your Workshop. For that reason, we recommend trip cancellation/travel insurance, available from your travel agent or online.
  • Arrangements for this Workshop are based on 7 persons enrolled. Should the number fall below this minimum, the Workshop may be cancelled, in which case you are entitled to a full refund.
  • Your payment serves as your acknowledgement of this policy.

Wait List

A wait list is formed on first-come, first-served basis. If space opens, we call the first person on the wait list. If that person declines or doesn’t respond, the second person is called and so on until the space is filled.

What IS included in the tuition?

  • Workshop instruction, group and individual
  • Guided 3-day, 2-night rafting trip
  • All meals
  • Transportation from Pleasure Park to the trailhead
  • Information on products and services

What is NOT included in the tuition?

  • Transportation to Lazear
  • Friday night lodging
  • Personal expenses, tips

More Information and Registration

Book Online Now. Space is limited. Full payment secures your enrollment.

Physical fitness is required to carry all of your river gear including camera 1 mile downhill to river, as well as day hikes up to 2 miles. For trip information regarding the hike to the river, packing, camping and river-related topics, contact:

For workshop information:
Workshop Price $1495

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