We headed out early this morning with one goal: search out the best fall colors we can find. When we went to Telluride a few days ago, the aspens were starting to turn from yellow to orange, so decided to head in that direction again. When we turned west out of Ridgway, the morning light was just reaching the top of the San Juan mountains, ready to spill light down the valleys. We couldn't have had better timing.
We joined a bunch of other photographers at a wide pullout, each ready with tripod and some with huge telephoto lenses. I'd have preferred a wide angle landscape lens; maybe when I get home I'll invest in one. But my 18-250mm Sigma lens plus polarizer is great for this kind of light and bright landscape.
We stumbled upon Last Dollar Road by accident; it was a good parking spot to photograph a hillside with a rustic wood fence in the foreground. When we decided to drive up the road just a ways, to see what was back there, we struck photographic gold.
It's miles and miles of dirt road through broad parkland with creeks and grazing cattle, old homesteads, and the occasional cluster of ranch buildings. We forded creeks more times than I can count, and the road got steep and rutted and a bit dicey in places. It's not for the faint of heart, or those without four-wheel drive. I was glad to be in the Tundra.
We leap-frogged with a group out for a photo tour, and when they stopped to walk through this old and twisty stand of aspens, we joined them. These trees were huge... for scale, check out DW on the hillside taking a picture.
The more we drove, the more beautiful the mountains and rivers of aspen trees, flowing down the ravines. And as we climbed, the colors deepened from gold to orange, copper to burgundy.
I could have spent all day here. As it was, we were out on the back roads more than six hours, just chasing aspens.
There are more aspen photographs to come.