3 Peaks Photography & Design

Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops in
Westcliffe, CO

2020 Schedule

Part of our proceeds go to support Dark Skies, Inc.

Active military service members, veterans and dependents residing in El Paso or Teller counties are eligible to particiapte in my classes and workshops and register for private photgraphy lessons for free through the Military Arts Connection with a referral from a participating service organization.

Also Check Out Our Night Sky Workshops at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park

2020 Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops in Westcliffe - Westcliffe is the first town in Colorado and the world's highest 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.

Check out this time lapse video made from images taken at two of the workshop locations.

There is an optional hike at one of the locations we use for photographing the night sky. We assess how the group is doing before deciding whether or not to do the hike.The other locations we use do not require any hiking.

The cost of the workshop includes use of a rental home in Westcliffe operated by Dark Skies Vacations. Check-in is at 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 10 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 and the windmill at two of our locations and practicing light painting techniques. If the weather is poor, we will spend time discussing post-processing techniques at the 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



We will meet for dinner at the rental house or at a restaurant in the area. This gives us a chance to get to know each other a little better before we get out under the stars.

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


"Mike, I really enjoyed the workshop on Aug 11/12 (2018). It was the first time that I saw the Milky Way in all it's grandeur, after a few unsuccessful attempts elsewhere. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop led by yourself and Don. The dinner (Thanks Charley!) was scrumptious, and the presentation prior to heading to the field was very useful and informative. The locations were perfect. I appreciate your patience with this rookie. I learned a lot from you and Don and I look forward to joining you again at a future workshop." ~ Kevin Daly

"Hi Mike,
I have attached a reflection I wrote, based on my experiences during the Night Sky Photography class you taught last July. While I'm not sure what your beliefs are about God/religion, the experience for me that night was deeply, profoundly spiritual and I hope that you can hear the depth of gratitude reflected in my words related specifically to you and what and how you taught the class!  I especially liked the way you invited us at one point, right before we left Bear Basin to go back to the ranch, to just stop and look, behold the beauty of the sky, without trying to focus on the next best shot! I remember in a couple of brief conversations with you since that night that the group dynamics we had that night were unique and enjoyable and that you were just coming back from the recent death of your mother, having acknowledged that you were (understandably so) feeling the impact of your loss of her. We had a camaraderie that was unique for a group of photographers from different backgrounds! Part of my own journey includes having experienced the deaths of both my parents and my parents-in-law, but most profoundly, the death of my 15 year old daughter in 2013, so the reflections written and the insights gained from that amazing July night were indeed profound and required some time and rumination to tease out!Anyway, I wanted to again say "THANK YOU" for doing these classes and I hope that this email and attachment will bring some inspiration to you to keep doing them, because there is such a profound meaning behind the different concepts behind photography (ie, perspective, focus, contrast, light, shadow, etc.) that also have a profound association with our lives as human beings!
" ~ Jerry Daniel - Read Jerry's reflection

"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

Click Here or on the photo below to view photos from our workshops

Register by December 31, 2019 to receive the early bird discount!

Workshop Date
Start Time
Cost Per Person
Spots Left

May 22/23, (Fri/Sat) 2020

5 pm
7 pm


New Moon
June 18-21 (Thur/Sun), 2020

5 pm

7 pm
New Moon
July 19/20 (Sun/Mon), 2020

5 pm

7 pm
7:55 PM
Aug 16/17 (Sun/Mon), 2020

5 pm

6:30 pm
6:35 PM
Sept 18/19 (Fri/Sat), 2020

5 pm

6:30 pm
8:13 PM
Oct 16/17 (Fri/Sat), 2020

5 pm

6:30 pm
New Moon
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Images and poetry ©Michael J. Pach/AdventureCam Photo/3 Peaks Photography & Design and may not be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, published or transferred without written consent. All copyrighted images, designs, graphic materials and HTML coding developed or authored by Michael J. Pach shall remain under the author's copyright unless specifically released in writing and signed by all concerned parties.  Copyright infringement is a violation of federal law and is subject to criminal and civil penalties.