3 Peaks Photography & Design

Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops in
Westcliffe, CO

2018 Schedule


Just added! Night Sky Workshops at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park

2018 Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops in Westcliffe - Westcliffe is the first town in Colorado and one of only 15 in the world that's designated as an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association, so it is an excellent place to view and photograph the night sky and the Milky Way. The workshops are conducted on private property, and the dates are listed in the chart at the bottom of this page.

Westcliffe is a former mining town that is situated in the Wet Valley about 1.5 hours southwest of Colorado Springs. Westcliffe is an International Dark Sky Community, which makes it the perfect place for night-sky photography and astrotourism. The views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from Westcliffe are spectacular. Read more about Westcliffe and watch this Today Show report by NBC's Harry Smith.

All attendees must sign a waiver and release agreement to participate in these workshops. Westcliffe sits at an elevation of 7,867 feet above sea level, and activities will take place between 7,800 and 9,300 feet. If you are visiting from out of state, it is recommended that you first spend some time during your visit to Colorado at lower elevations and drink plenty of water to avoid altitude sickness.

One of the locations we use for photographing the night sky requires some hiking. Watch this video of the hike from start to finish to get an idea of the conditions. The other locations we use do not require any hiking.

The cost of the workshop includes use of either the historic ranch house at Music Meadows Ranch, or a rental home in Westcliffe owned by Dark Skies Vacations. Check-in at either location is as early as 5 pm. The workshops will start near dusk and end just after sunrise (we do not plan to sleep at either house, but they will be available if anyone needs to get some rest). Check-out time is 11 am the following day. Pets are not allowed.

The tentative schedule for each workshop is as follows:

5:00 PM - Check in
6:00 PM - Dinner
7:00 PM - Classroom Instruction
9:00 PM - Photographing the night sky at up to 3 locations through sunrise
7:00 AM - Breakfast at the Silver Cliff Inn

Times are subject to change based on weather, sunset conditions and the times the Galactic Core of the Milky Way is visible.

We'll keep an eye on the weather, but we don't have any control over Mother Nature. If the sky is cloudy, we will spend time photographing the barns at one of our locations and practicing light painting techniques. If the weather is poor, we will spend time discussing post-processing techniques at either rental house.

What you will learn

Workshops will be limited to 10 people and will be lead by Mike Pach with assistance from Don Savage. Keeping groups small will ensure that each participant gets the individual attention they need to learn ...

how to photograph the Milky Way and the stars as points of light.
how to photograph star trails.
light painting techniques (we will supply the lights needed).
how to post-process your images in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Learning materials will be provided to each participant prior to each workshop.

What to bring

Camera Gear

Camera - your camera should be capable of shooting at 3200 or 6400 ISO in order to get photos of the Milky Way and stars as points of light.

Camera manual

Extra batteries

Sturdy tripod


Lenses - Lenses in the 14-24mm range will produce good results for the night sky. You will need a lens that opens to f/4.0 or larger (1.2, 1.8, 2.8, etc.) in order to photograph the stars as points of light. Bring other lenses for sunset, sunrise and wildlife photos.

Other Gear

Warm clothes - It's best to dress in layers with insulating layers close to your body. Windproof jackets and pants are recommended to keep you warm in windy conditions.

Gloves and a winter hat - It's not unusual for temperatures to drop down into the 30's and 40's at high elevations during the summer months. Having these items will help keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Sturdy boots or hiking shoes - One of the shooting locations requires a short amount of hiking on rough terrain.

Rain gear - A lightweight poncho will do fine as well as a waterproof parka and waterproof pants.


Water - It's important to stay hydrated at high altitudes



Dinner is available for an additional fee at Music Meadows Ranch and Dark Skies Vacations, payable in cash directly to the venue owners..

Those wishing to stick around for the sunrise portion of the workshop can join us at the Silver Cliff Mountain Inn for breakfast. Breakfast meals are not included in the price of the workshop.


"Mike & Don were very well organized and prepared to host a great workshop event. It made for a wonderful opportunity to learn with a combination of classroom training, in-field training, and plenty of individual attention. And with stunning locations that were hand-selected & scouted in advance, our opportunity for great nightscape images was fantastic! And there's no doubt ... the area around Westcliffe is excellent for night photography. Keep up the great work gentlemen!"
~ Mike Berenson, NightPhotographyWorkshop.com

"3 Peaks Photography provided access to several outstanding locations for night sky photography. I was extremely happy with the photographs I took." ~ Jim Schoedler

"Night Photography has always been elusive for me and having the small group experience where I could gain tips and try various techniques was amazing! Thank you Mike for the great tips and instruction!" ~ Lisa Kastelic

"Great workshop. Locations were outstanding!" ~ John Hepburn

"I have taken several of Mike's workshops. I have never been disappointed. Mike is very generous with his knowledge. This workshop was no different, it was awesome! I look forward to attending more workshops with Mike." ~ Elizabeth Moe

"I have always been interested in the night sky but previously only photographed the moon. None of the websites I researched mentioned doing things like setting your focus to infinity during the day, or learning how to handle your camera in the dark. Mike Pach did both of those things. I learned the settings I needed to begin with and how to experiment from there. Definitely a great experience with lessons I'm still putting to use!" ~ Sallie Anderson


Contact Mike Pach

View Photos from Our Workshops

The Milky Way near Westcilffe

Register - Special Early-Bird Pricing! $249 if booked before March 1, 2018!

Workshop Date
Start Time
Cost Per Person
Spots Left

May 15, 2018

5 pm
7 pm
$299 $249
New Moon
June 13, 2018

5 pm

7 pm
$299 $249
New Moon
July 15, 2018*

5 pm

7 pm
$299 $249
10:38 PM
Aug. 11, 2018*

5 pm

6:30 pm
$299 $249
New Moon
Sept. 9, 2018

5 pm

6:30 pm
$299 $249
New Moon
Oct. 6, 2018*

5 pm

6:00 pm
$299 $249
5:34 PM

* These workshops will utilize a rental house in Westcliffe owned by Dark Skies Vacations. All other dates utilize the ranch house at Music Meadows.

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