Fall 2016, Colorado Rocky Mountains

Bear Lake Expedition

"Sunrise from Bear Lake Trailhead" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

A September sunrise from the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

Fall colors arrive in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in a wave that goes from north to south, and from high elevations to low. I was fortunate to travel into the mountains this fall with a friend who is familiar with many trails and scenic locations in Colorado. This afforded me a chance for maximum success in capturing colors at or approaching their peak in a couple of places. Our trips also involved getting up and out of our respective houses and on our way well before sunrise. The older I get the harder this is to accomplish, but the views and lack of crowds at the destinations are a fitting reward for the inconvenience!

The first trip in mid-September was to the Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park south west of Estes Park. It might have been just a tad early for peak "plumage", but there were still some very colorful aspens.

"Crimson and Gold" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

An aspen has turned it's leaves to a rich crimson and gold. Found near Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

 

Bear Lake Trail is one of my favorite locations for hiking and for its picturesque views. We found the best aspens in patches here and there mixed in with pine trees. 

"Golden Trail" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

Above Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, this trail leads towards Bierstadt Lake a couple of miles away. The many yellow leaves acted as a filter and gave the trail a magical, warm hue. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

"Above Bear Lake" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

This photograph was also made of the trail above Bear Lake. There were many deciduous trees in the area that looked really beautiful in the morning light.

"Sharktooth Mountain" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

I found this enormous rock to be an impressive sight, and it was well-framed by the foreground hills and forest. Colorful trees were not the only subjects of our cameras! To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

"Aspen" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

Sometimes a single tree by itself makes an impressive color "statement." Although ... this one wasn't completely by itself in this photograph. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.


Kenosha Pass Expedition

 

The second fall colors trip we made was to Kenosha Pass in the Rocky Mountains near the end of September. This was the first time I had been to Kenosha Pass in fall, but I had passed through earlier in the month to retrieve my wife from Lake City further west (Lake City is beautifully picturesque and is now on my list for a future photo expedition). Kenosha Pass has a rich history. Read the words Walt Whitman wrote in 1879:

"I jot these lines literally at Kenosha summit, where we return, afternoon, and take a long rest, 10,000 feet above sea-level. At this immense height the South Park stretches fifty miles before me. Mountainous chains and peaks in every variety of perspective, every hue of vista, fringe the view...so the whole Western world is, in a sense, but an expansion of these mountains."

It's true - from the vantage point we found South Park looks like it stretches on almost forever.

"South Park Expanse" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

The view of South Park, south from Kenosha Pass. From fog to sunlight to distant mountain range, I enjoyed this view for it's massive depth.

"South Park Ranch Land" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

Ranch land in South Park, with morning fog beginning to lift.

"Autumn Morning Above South Park" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

Our vantage point provided a breathtaking view of nearby golden aspens with South Park as a backdrop. We arrived before sunrise and enjoyed this wonderful view as the Sun rose.

"High Golden Canopy" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

"Yellow and Gold  Hillside" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

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"Leaf Blanket Trail" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

"The Portal" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

Two aspens stand tall, seeming to frame the path to a beautifully lit aspen. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

Later in the morning we left Kenosha Pass for the nearby Michigan Creek area for some more photography.

"Aspenglow" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

"Forest Afire" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

The colorful leaves almost make it seem as if the forest is afire with crimson, orange, and yellow.

"Aspen's Last Stand" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt

This stand of aspens was beautiful to see in its symmetry. The prevailing wind seemed like it must have been from the right in this photograph, as the aspens on the right have begun to be stripped of their leaves. To see a larger version and for purchase options, click here.

"Classic Colorado Aspens" ©2016 Jon S. Berndt