September 30, the last day of the second-best month of the year. The day before the very start of the best month.
I drove up Colorado Highway 145 from Dolores, which parallels the upper Dolores River almost to its source high in the San Juan Mountains. According to the calendar.
I was somewhat surprised that the aspen fall colors had not peaked in the week since I’d been there last. There had been more snow on the high peaks, but the aspen stands had taken it in strike just below that, not feeling the need to dump their leaves for the winter.
I drove into Rico, at 8,800 feet elevation pretty much my bullseye for what was going on for autumn colors around these part. I took another shot of the gravel street looking down from the Rico Community Church, that stately and gleaming white frame building. I was working on a series of the progression of the colors with that as a vantage point.
From Rico it was up over Lizard Head Pass into San Miguel County and down a little bit to the stunningly gorgeous hamlet of Trout Lake. But the lake and its surrounding peaks were pretty much wreathed in clouds. Tough light, but I wanted to document it anyway.
Then on past Telluride and over to Dallas Divide, turning off onto Last Dollar Road. There, the expansive ranches have huge mountain meadows of cattle grazing beneath towering peaks.
Even there the aspen forests had a lot of green left to turn to gold. The photographers were lined up along the road at key spots, I think under the direction of photography safari outfits. Not my scene. I want to do everything on my own.
Soon after that, I turned my little vehicle around and headed back to Cortez, with over a hundred miles to go. I paused again at Rico for a beaver pond reflection shot of the colors.
Photo location: San Juan Mountains, southwest Colorado.
© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg