One of the seasons that I look forward to is fall, as the warm summer tapers off to cooler temperatures, and the parched foliage gets cloaked in vivid hues of yellow, orange and red for a fleeting couple of weeks. The confluence of stunning fall colors seem to exist to cajole us into the subsequent colder days, and for photographers, fall is undoubtedly the season to capture nature's blazing palette before everything turns monotone during the frigid winter.
This fall I headed over to Colorado for some fall foliage photos. I've heard so much about how amazing the aspen trees there look in fall, and they definitely didn't disappoint. I spent about three days around Aspen and Crested Butte, both places about 4 hours away from Denver. The roads were often flanked by beautiful foliage of golden leaves interspersed with dark green spruce trees, so it was a really scenic drive throughout.
We arrived late at night on Thursday and drove straight to Aspen for 4 hours or so. It was about 5am when we got to Maroon Lake, but to our surprise, the lake was already littered with photographers. As a fellow photographer we met later on so aptly put it, "it was like the whole of humanity was at the lake!" My guesstimate is that there were about 87 photographers that morning? It was definitely dicey, jostling for a prime spot.
When the sun finally peeked out, I could see why the place is so sort after. As the first light bathed the tips of the peaks, the citrine aspen groves around the lake began to slowly reveal their true colors (pun intended!), unraveling a postcard perfect scene. The insane congregation of photographers was also affirmed as the sun came out.
While the early morning light provides a softer feel of Maroon Bells, some people prefer the stronger light later in the day. Both perspectives have their strengths – early morning reflections are more pristine, while mid-day light accentuates the contrast of the fall colors.
I have seen aspen trees around where I live before, but never in this magnitude and grandeur. When the wind blows, the sight of the aspen leaves rustling is reminiscent of shimmering golden coins. It was a real treat to drive alongside gilded hills of aspen.
We spent the weekend weaving through roads that were inundated by rolling hills of autumn colors. While not everywhere was peak, as there were still patches of summer’s green foliage, the array of colors underscores the brevity of fall’s glory.
We were lucky that the weather wasn’t adverse that weekend, though it took a turn for the worse on the day we left. I am back in rainy Portland now, and the leaves have yet to turn color, but the splendid gold rush I had experienced in Colorado has already made my autumn complete.