Sunday, October 30, 2016

Autumn in Colorado: Part II

On the second day, the clouds cleared and revealed brilliant new snow on the mountain peaks around Crested Butte. It was a picture-perfect day - warm and sunny, aspens in full swing, and everybody had already scooted out of town.

We decided to hike a trail just outside of town, accessible by the free shuttle - it was stunning. We started our walk on private farmland with the town still sleeping behind us and the peace and quiet of rural Colorado ahead of us.

Autumn in Colorado: Part I

We went on an old-fashioned road trip to see the fall bounty of Colorado. We set off southwest of Denver, with our final destination being Crested Butte, an old mining town full of hippies, ski bums and blue-collar workers from its mining past. We took Cottonwood Pass while it was still open, and jumped off from Crested Butte the next morning to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It was sunny, it was windy, it was snowy, and it was rainy. Covered all the Colorado fall weather in one trip.

Views from Cottonwood Pass just beyond Buena Vista:

Then we took off for Black Canyon of the Gunnison - amazing scenic drive along the way. These first few photos are of Curecanti National Recreation Area, which you drive through to get to the national park (so, different canyon to start).

We crossed the dam to begin our drive:

About here is where the snow really started flying - it was beautiful:

Then we finally made it to the Black Canyon! For a national park, there were hardly any people there. It's in the absolute middle of nowhere, many, many driving hours from Denver, no cell phone service, and I suspect that's why it's one of the least visited parks in the federal system.

It. Was. So. Deep. And. Narrow. Photos don't do it justice. We were so close to the edge, and it was humbling.

Rewind: Summer Sunset at Colorado National Monument

The western portion of Colorado is magical - I know Utah gets all the love for its desert, but Colorado boasts similar red rocks, canyons and layered formations, all awash in the scent of pinyon pine and juniper. It's heaven.

Here's a photo recap of my recent trip to Grand Junction/Fruita, the home of Colorado National Monument. It was July, and it was scorching hot, even at sunset. I can still feel the smothering heat as the sun dipped below the horizon.

The last rays of light hit the Bookcliffs east of town:

The rock formations sparkle up close:

Views from atop the Monument:

Mt. Garfield: