In the fall, Colorado is transformed into a natural arena of beautiful color, with the state’s signature golden Aspen trees serving as the main act. Aspens are amazing – they grow in large clonal colonies derived from a single seedling, and spread hundreds of miles by means of root suckers; new stems in the colony may appear at up to 95–130 ft from the parent tree. Each individual tree can live for 40–150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony is long-lived, in some cases, for thousands of years. My journey in late September 2015 encompassed some of Colorado’s most amazing and iconic scenery. A description of locations is located beneath the gallery.
The Maroon Bells, two towering 14,000-foot mountains nestled in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness of the White River National Forest reflected in Maroon Lake; the mountains received their distinctive maroon coloring from the weathering of hematite, an iron-bearing mineral, while Maroon Lake occupies a basin that was sculpted by Ice-Age glaciers.
Kebler Pass, mostly unpaved high mountain pass traversing Gunnison County, which boasts the largest aspen grove in North America.
Ashcroft, historical “ghost” silver mining town which originally boasted two newspapers, a school, sawmills, a small smelter, 6 hotels and 20 saloons and was larger than Aspen at that time (1880’s).
Crystal Mill, an 1892 wooden powerhouse precariously perched on an outcrop above the Crystal River accessible from Marble Colorado only in the summer and fall months by a rough and rocky one-lane 4-wheel-drive road.
Owl Creek Pass, a high mountain pass at an elevation of 10,114 feet located in the Uncompahgre National Forest in Gunnison County, with views of Cimmarrons Ridge and Courthouse Mountain with Chimney Rock in the Sneffels Range and the aspen lined valley of Katie’s Meadow – one of the most memorable scenes from True Grit starring John Wayne.
Dallas Divide, a high mountain pass offering amazing panoramic views of the San Juan Mountains with its “Queen”, Mount Sneffels, one of Colorado’s 58 “14ers”, and the expansive Sneffels Wilderness Area with large stands of aspens and the majestic Uncompahgre Plateau. The pass takes its name from Dallas Creek which drains the basin on the north side of Mount Sneffels into the Uncompahgre River.
Last Dollar Road, winds through aspen groves, alpine meadows, and towering peaks then drops you down into the red walls of the San Miguel River basin and to Highway 145 into Telluride known for its world-class skiing and summer festivals.
Crystal Lake, located 10 miles south of Ouray, the lake produces brilliant reflections of Red Mountain in the San Juan National Forest.
Garden of the Gods, a public park in Colorado Springs featuring ancient sedimentary beds of deep-red, pink and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted into “fins”, by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and the Pikes Peak massif, since exposed by erosion.
Curecanti National Recreation Area and Blue Mesa Reservoir, an oasis of blue in a dry environment adjacent to Black Canyon of the Gunnison.