WHERE TO PHOTOGRAPH FALL COLOR IN COLORADO

Seattle, Washington

SOME OF THE BEST PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH FALL COLOR IN COLORADO

This year I finally made a road trip to photograph fall color somewhere else besides the Tumwater Canyon in Eastern Washington. I called up a friend and asked him if I should go to Iceland again or to Colorado to photograph the fall color. The last time I was in Iceland, it was the same time of year so my partner and I decided on a road trip to Colorado to photograph the fall color. Boy were we not disappointed.

Haybales and Mount Sneffels at sunrise in the Double RL Ranch owned by Ralph Lauren.

An overnight rain and snow storm covered the Mount Sneffels mountain range in a light dusting of snow. Although the light did not quite work out like we wanted the scene with the fall color and hay bales was a perfect combination. The Double RL Ranch owned by Ralph Lauren offers perfect views of the Sneffels Range. The land is private but the road is access to the wilderness so as long as you stay on the road, you can drive through the ranch. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

CRESTED BUTTE AND KEBLER PASS

We left Seattle to start our 4500 mile road trip near the end of September. The first stop in Colorado was Kebler Pass near Crested Butte. Kebler Pass is one of the largest aspen groves in North America and full of fall color. Kebler Pass road is mostly gravel with some small sections of pavement but the road is in great shape. Any car can drive this road. The top of Kebler Pass is at 10,007 feet so if you come from sea level, I don't suggest getting out of the car and going for a run. Near the top of Kebler Pass is a road that takes you to Gunnison by way of Ohio Pass. Ohio Pass has more Aspens and other amazing views of fall color. Ohio Pass has old abandoned buildings, views of The Castles, and views of the Anthracite Range. We ended up staying at the KOA in Gunnison in Gunnison since it was cheap, the weather was nice, and it was only a 40 minute drive to Kebler Pass.

A lone tree at sunset in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado.

While shooting sunset at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, this twisted Juniper tree stood out and needed to be photographed. Although not much was going on with the sky, the alpen glow adding some much needed color to the scene. This national park contains only 12 of the 48 miles of the canyon but are the deepest and most dramatic sections. Very few people visit this national park and is worth stopping by if you are in the area. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK

If you are looking for solitude, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is really nice. While it doesn't have much for aspen trees, the fall color is in the low lying bushes around the canyon. We stopped there for sunset and it is about an hour from Gunnison, Colorado. The entire Black Canyon is 48 miles long and the national park is only 12 miles of the canyon. Of course, these 12 miles are the most dramatic sections of the canyon. It was worth the drive to the park for sunset so if you are in the area, make sure you stop. Not many people go so your can have the place almost to yourself.

sunshine mountain at sunset from Ophir Colorado.

We just finished photographing the twisted aspen trees in Ophir, Colorado when we came across this scene on the way back to the highway. Sunshine Mountain was being bathed in the late afternoon sun through the clouds. We had to stop and get the image. Sometimes the perfect light happens when you least expect it. Even the artist painting the mountains stopped painting and pulled out his camera. It was a quite a sight to see. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS AND THE DALLAS DIVIDE

After we left the Gunnison area, we went to the San Juan Mountains near Telluride, Ridgway, and Ouray, Colorado. We used the KOA in Ouray as basecamp since they had Camper Cabins available and the weather was getting bad. Well, bad for being in a tent but great for photography. From Ouray, the Dallas Divide and the Double RL Ranch were only 15 minutes down the road. The Dallas Divide has amazing views of Mount Sneffels with fields of fall color. The Double RL Ranch is owned by Ralph Lauren and is 16,000 acres. The dirt roads through the ranch go to wilderness so you can drive through it but stay on the road. It is still private property. When we were there we could hear elk bugling in the early morning hours.

twisted aspens of Ophir colorado.

In the town of Ophir, Colorado lies this little gem of a scene. These twisted aspen trees are right next to an avalanche chute which may have caused them to become this shape when they were young. I have no proof an avalanche caused the bent shape but it sounds good so I'm sticking with it. Colorado has some of the most amazing fall colors I have scene in all my years of photography. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

OPHIR, COLORADO

Of course you can't for get about the twisted aspen trees in Ophir. My theory is that since these trees are next to an avalanche chute, an avalanche came down when they were young trees and got bent. As the trees continued to grow they straightened themselves out leaving the twisted look for everyone to admire. Ophir was established in 1881 as a mining town and has an elevation of 9700 feet. It's interesting how when you start to look around the mountains how many mines there are. Outside Ophir is Ophir Pass. We did not go up the pass because you need a high clearance vehicle and while my Forester could have possibly made it, I wasn't willing to take the risk. Ophir Pass is a good way to go from Ophir to Silverton and enjoy the fall color. The top of the pass is at 11,789 feet so unless you are from the area, I wouldn't recommend getting out of your vehicle and going for a run.

MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY

The last full day we were in the Colorado, it was pouring rain and white cold. We wanted to drive part of the Million Dollar Highway. The Million Dollar Highway runs about 25 miles from Silverton to Ouray. Probably one of the most amazing roads I have driven when it comes to fall color. After leaving Ouray, the road has steep drop-offs and lots of hairpin corners so you need to pay attention as you drive this road. A worthwhile stop on the way from Ouray to Silverton is Crystal Lake. There is a big pullout and amazing scenery with the mountains reflecting in the lake and lots of aspens around the lake.

CONCLUSION

This was my first time to Colorado so I know I missed a few location but I'm already planning a trip for next year. You can find many of my images from Colorado in the premium fine art galleries. If you have any questions, please reach out using my Contact Page and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Fall color is still around so I better get out for a few more photographs to add to my galleries before the color fades. Fall color only lasts a few weeks so get out while you can.

panoramic image from Dallas Divide in colorado with Mount Sneffels in the background.

Standing at the Dallas Divide near Ridgway, Colorado just after a storm rolled through the area showing off the brilliant fall color. I couldn't help but to make a panoramic image with so much color. A single image would not do this scene justice. The pointy peak in the background is Mount Sneffels standing 14,158 feet tall and located in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

fall color on the million dollar highway near Red Mountain Pass.

The day started out with broken clouds and some sunshine. By mid day the rain came in and never let up until sunset. We set off of to explore the Million Dollar Highway past Ouray, Colorado up to Red Mountain Pass. As the road winds up the pass, you get amazing views down the valley so I had to get the shot. A single image would not do the scene justice so I chose to shoot a panoramic image. Comprised to 6 vertical images, this scene captures the beauty of the Colorado fall color. Limited Edition of 100 prints available.

Japanese maple in Kubota Gardens in seattle

While photographing thIs Japanese Maple tree in Kubota Gardens in Seattle. The twisted trunks of the Japanese Maple Trees are unlike other trees. The fall color of the Japanese Maple trees turns a vibrant red and orange for a couple weeks a year. Limited edition of 100 prints available.