Colorado Fall Color Photography Trip Report of the San Juan Mountains

New Fine Art Pictures of Fall Aspen Trees on Snow-capped Mountains

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Colorado Fall Color Landscape Photography

My son Jason and I arrived in Southwest Colorado hoping to find that there had been an early snowfall on the mountains like last year, but it was not to be. So, we made the decision to focus on scenes that were not so dependent on mountains.

With the clear morning skies, the first subject on the list was the rather well known group of curved aspen trees near Ophir, Colorado where the rising sun would provide some nice back lighting on the aspen trees along with a beautiful sun star.

The curved Aspen trees in Colorado in fall color with the sun bursting through the trees behind them
"Curves" - Click Photo To Purchase

Just south of Telluride is Cushman Lake, one of the prettiest fall color settings in Southwest Colorado. It had been windy for days, which causes ripples on the water and prevents the lake from having good reflections of the trees. We finally got a good forecast of calm winds so we got there before sunrise and were well rewarded.

A small lake in Colorado surrounded by Aspen trees in fall color reflecting in the calm waters of the lake
"Morning Reflection" - Click Photo To Purchase

Aspen trees in fall color surrounding a lake with a mountain in the background in Colorado
"Above The Lake" - Click Photo To Purchase

An old dock on the edge of a lake in Colorado surrounded by Aspen trees in fall color
"Calm Morning" - Click Photo To Purchase

The remnants of Hurricane Rosa that had come ashore in Mexico were on their way to Colorado. The viewpoint of Mount Wilson near Telluride was the perfect place to capture the incoming weather. The morning sun was still shining on the mountain and the aspens in front of it when storm clouds began building behind the mountain. I could not have asked for more.

Dramatic storm clouds coming over the mountains and a valley filled with Aspen trees in brilliant yellow fall colors in Colorado
"Southwest Storm" - Click Photo To Purchase

We continued searching the back roads around Telluride for good fall color scenes and came across a stand of aspens where an old road appeared to go through them. It was raining, which did a nice job saturating the color of the leaves, but had me heading back to my dry car without spending time to see where the old road went. Maybe next time. Down yet another back road was a stunning setting showing off the contrast between the pines and the aspens.

An old path or road through a stand Aspen trees in their fall colors in Colorado
"The Old Road" - Click Photo To Purchase

A stunning contrast of color with yellow and green Aspen trees on a mountain side in Colorado
"Color Contrast" - Click Photo To Purchase

Not too far northeast of Ridgway, Colorado this unusual ridge with Courthouse Rock makes for a wonderful fall color scene. At sunset, it sits high above to the east allowing the setting sun to light it up beautifully. On this day, the sun was not blocked by any clouds as it made its way to the horizon behind us, providing us with a warm glow on Courthouse Rock.

A late afternoon view of Courthouse Rock in Colorado behind a valley filled with Aspen trees with yellow and orange fall colors
"The Courthouse" - Click Photo To Purchase

We headed to Crested Butte in search of some new scenes. The leaves had begun to fall off most of the aspen trees, but we headed out early on the winding dirt road west of town where some very nice fall color scenes can be found. On the way back to town, we came around a curve and there it was, this wonderful grouping of pines and aspens that we couldn’t see when previously heading the other direction. Everything about it was perfect, with the pines surrounded by the aspens on the left and the grouping of the white aspen trees on the right.

A large stand of Aspen trees in yellow fall colors mixed with dark green pine trees in Crested Butte, Colorado
"Fall Contrast" - Click Photo To Purchase

It was on to Aspen to see what was happening with the fall color there. The iconic image at Maroon Lake was not possible due to extremely low water levels and still no snow on the mountains. So, we headed up Fryingpan River and were able to capture a nice scene of the Cottonwood trees overhanging the river. Just like Aspens, they turn yellow in the fall, as well.

Cottonwood trees in yellow fall colors overhanging a river with rapids near Aspen, Colorado
"Cottonwood Colors" - Click Photo To Purchase

Finally, during the last two days of our time in Colorado, it began to rain, with snow at the higher elevations. The best place to capture snow on the mountains was going to be at McClure Pass, west of Aspen. On our last day, we got there before sunrise planning to photograph from the river at the bottom of the valley, but found the entire valley to be covered with low clouds and fog. I thought our day was done, but then decided to drive to the top of the pass to see if we could get above the clouds. It worked, and we were rewarded with two incredible images.

Dark storm clouds over snow-covered mountains with clouds in the valley below with fall color at McClure Pass, Colorado
"Morning Light" - Click Photo To Purchase

Snow-covered mountains above a valley with clouds and Aspen trees in fall colors in Colorado
"Above It All" - Click Photo To Purchase

Next up will be a November trip to Death Valley and the red rock country of Utah during the peak of fall color there.

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