I love Colorado. It is my ideal state. Because I love the rise from the plains heading west to the Rocky Mountains that are as beautiful in the summer as they are in the winter. I love the fall season. Anywhere. That cool nip that is in the air just after months of hot weather and the color changes that come with it are invigorating to me.
But I live in Alabama. I don’t get to Colorado often at all. Last year, my online friend and fellow photographer Ron Azevedo posted some amazing images of Colorado he shot in the fall around the Aspen area and surrounding towns. I was blown away! It really fueled my enthusiasm for the area and made me want to go back and see some of the same sites and shoot them myself. I hoped I could meetup with Ron out there, but he had other plans come up and was headed elsewhere.
So, at the last minute almost I made plans to take a road trip out there. I took some time off from work and packed my car and at 4 am on September 21 I set off for Colorado. I did make some plans to see a few friends along the way. And they were gracious to host me overnight or for a couple of days.
I can drive a long way when by myself. I don’t need to stop except to get gas or something to eat and occasionally stretch my legs and take a break. So, in 15 hours I was in Manhattan, KS at the home of my college friends, Rodney and Susie Stanfield. I didn’t get to see Rodney since he was away at work. Susie did tell me of a couple of things I might be interested in shooting as I was to make my way across Kansas the next day. And I did take her advice.
I skipped seeing the world’s largest prairie dog. I was tipped off that it is only a…aww, I won’t give it away!
I made it to Denver and my friend Lucie’s place the next afternoon. I had some time to relax and enjoy catching up with her. We had a nice drive into the mountains to Kenosha Pass where I was looking forward to seeing some golden aspens, and we saw plenty along the way and up at the Pass. A beautiful sight. But, nothing compared to what I would see the rest of the week.
Since I was leaving the next morning, on my birthday, Lucie treated me to dinner out in Denver. It was very good!
So, on my birthday I drove through Boulder and up to Rocky Mountain National Park, a place I have always claimed as one of my favorites because I worked there after college in 1983. It has so many great trails to hike and exciting wildlife to see in and around the park. I went straight to where I knew I could enjoy a brisk hike and beautiful scenery, Bear Lake. That trail also leads to a few other lakes up to the base of Hallets Peak.
That was a good reintroduction to my old stomping grounds and the altitude. Afterward, I drove up Trail Ridge Road to see the views and visit the Trail Ridge Store where I worked for the ’83 season.
After a night at the Rocky Mountain Park Inn in Estes Park, I left for another drive up Trail Ridge Road and over to Grand Lake Lodge where I had lived most of the season of 1983. The first pic below is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, the inspiration for Stephen King’s ‘The Shining.’
I then drove southwest toward Aspen. I had never been to Aspen and was anxious to see the ski town where I once considered interviewing for a magazine art director job. I had some locations in mind to shoot in the area and I wasn’t disappointed at all! The Maroon Bells and Crystal Mill and the road up Independence Pass were awesome!
These were indeed the yellow/gold aspens I was looking for! And I really like Aspen the town!
I spent a few nights in Aspen before driving over Independence Pass again and south near Leadville and to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, my final stop before driving back to Alabama.