Aspen Forest Afternoon Light, Manti-La Sal

Bare Quaking Aspen trees, Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah

It was time to explore a route I’d heard about, over the mountains from near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park over the top and back down to Natural Bridges National Monument. It would pretty much take all day, a long slow ride on fairly rough dirt roads. But then, I had all day. A full tank of gas, and plenty of snacks and water. What more could anyone ask?

From Highway 211 north of Monticello in southeast Utah’s San Juan County, I paused to photograph the remaining fall colors in the Fremont Cottonwood trees in the valley bottoms. Two cowboys were driving their cattle down the road to wherever their next grazing unit was, or winter range. Or market. Temporary four legged traffic jam on the canyon road.

Then slowly winding up along the canyon’s rim. Up west of the Abajo Mountains, past stately Cathedral Butte, peering down into craggy canyons on either side of the high ridge road.

This photo is of a stand of aspen trees, in nude leafless glory, white and straight and gleaming in the slanting rays of the late afternoon late October sunlight. Whites and blues and still a few splashes of gold.

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