Fall color in the Colorado Rocky Mountains photographs

Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
The view through the back of my friend’s Busch Pressman 4×5 camera as she prepares to work some large format magic on the copse during a few brief seconds where the sun shows through a small gap in the clouds, illuminating on the aspen against the shadowed edge of Pike National Forest. (Daniel J. Schneider)

In the fall of 2011 I took a drive through the mountains west of Denver, Colorado, in search of views and vistas worth sharing. The colors of the season were in full bloom between about 8,000 and 11,000 feet of elevation. I took along a friend who is also a photographer and artist and her 4×5 Busch Pressman.

We started down Colorado state highway 285 from Denver, moving toward Conifer. We stopped at her family’s cabin near Shaffer’s Crossing and a great view of a glade of aspen trees (which readily fill in burn areas in our fire-prone mountains because their root systems extend far and wide and well below the earth) in the shadow of Lion’s Head. After a quick stop at the famous Coney Island Hot Dog Stand in Bailey, we headed out over Guanella Pass with frequent stops.

Over the pass there were views of aspens in bright oranges and yellows virtually everywhere, and at the top the view of Mount Bierstadt and the saw tooth is great. With a little bit of rain from the afternoon clouds (I say “the” because it happens nearly every day in the mountains — though it’s snow six months of the year) and great temperatures, the whole drive was a pleasure.

Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Lion’s Head visible in the distance over a copse of very yellow aspen trees near Schaffer’s Crossing, Colorado. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
At a friend’s cabin near Schaffer’s Crossing, west of Denver. Obligatory lens flare looking back up the unimproved road. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
A few wildflowers are still eking out the best of the Indian summer in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. These are blue Campanula rotundifolia, commonly known as harebells. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
A long-parked Rambler American on the edge of Pike National Forest, where yellowed Aspens stand in stark contrast to the evergreens. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Closer view of the copse of brilliantly yellowed aspen near Schaffer’s Crossing, Colorado. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Detail of one of the aspens in the copse near Schaffer’s Crossing, Colorado, with the sun about to disappear behind a small cloud as afternoon storms roll in. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Another close view of the copse of brilliantly yellowed aspen near Schaffer’s Crossing, Colorado. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
On the way up Guanella pass, just a couple miles north of Grant, Colorado, the aspen are more orange. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
On the unpaved portion of Guanella Pass north of Grant, Colorado. The last time I drove this road most of its 24 miles were unimproved, but now all but a few miles are paved. The gaps in the clouds show Colorado’s incredibly blue skies. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
This outcropping on the south side of Guanella pass is skirted by stripes of evergreens and aspens. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
A fork off the pavement on the south side of Colorado’s Guanella Pass offers an opportunity for aspen to line the roads. Their vibrant but brief color change brings tens of thousands of tourists to the Colorado Rocky Mountains every September or October. Within a week or two, they are all bare. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Off the side of the road to Guanella Pass is a rocky, narrow trail that leads across a wide, flat glacial valley that wends through the upper elevations of the Rocky Mountains near the Continental Divide. Along the ridges where small avalanches have slid in years past young aspen trees try to take hold in the years without slides. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
These few aspens near the summit of Guanella Pass in Colorado were particularly brilliant. The color of the trees’ leaves is influenced by the minerals in the soil where they grow, their elevation, the amount of water they have access to, and their age. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
From just below the summit of Guanella Pass, Colorado, taller, older aspens stand in gaps between the firs and lodgepole pines of Pike National Forest. The drizzle was almost dazzling as the sun spied through gaps in the clouds. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Descending Guanella Pass on the way to Georgetown, Colorado, with sunset fast on our heels. The afternoon rains have passed without incident. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
On the south side of the summit of Guanella Pass, looking northwest at patches of snow on distant mountains and a break in the clouds just before the rain catches up with us. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains 2011
Looking north toward Georgetown, Colorado, from the turnout to the north, just below the summit of Guanella Pass, in the shadow of Mt. Bierstadt’s rocky crags. (Daniel J. Schneider)
  • Glynhaven

    Some really beautiful photos there!  Love it!