In the western US, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado are a prime location for fall color. The combination of yellow aspen trees and mountains provides for wonderful autumn images. One can make a reasonable prediction of peak color from historical data, but the timing is still dependent on the current year’s temperature and rainfall patterns. So I was very excited when I found that we had arrived at peak foliage color. We worked our way from the Maroon Bells and Mt. Sopris through the McClure and Kebler Passes. Our last stop would be the San Juan mountains around Ridgway Colorado.
Ridgway is a small town with only one motel as I recall. In early October, the town is full of photographers and photo workshops. Unpaved county roads lead to many outstanding views of the mountains with foregrounds of aspen and scrub oak. County roads 5, 7 and 9 are probably the best. Most can be transited in dry weather in a regular car if driven carefully, though a high clearance SUV is better.
This scene unfolded before me as I was waiting for sunset on County Road 9. It runs through Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch and into the Uncompahgre National Forest. While traveling through the ranch, you need to stay on the county right of way. The ranch personnel patrol its borders continuously. While the approaching storm muted the sunset, it provided a dynamic backdrop to the color of the foliage and did allow for a single beam of light to reach the flank of Mt Sneffels.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor