Fall Color Report, Sept. 29, 2013
I spent a few days driving the Alpine Loop in Colorado. this drive is especially nice in the fall as it’s a Photographer’s Gem. This year the aspens are slow to bloom, as we have a had a warm late summer and fall. The West side of the loop, and the La Platas are not showing color changes just yet. We searched out a few of my favorite high altitude pockets of aspen, above 9000 feet, but I estimate a week to 10 days for prime time on the West side. Even though it snowed in Telluride and up on Lizard Head Pass, the aspen is still predominately green.
On the West Side of the Alpine loop, it was challenging to find aspen copse in full bloom. It snowed so you can see a dusting on the fir trees at the top of this scene. ©Kit Frost
I usually count 10 days from the first frost and then take a group of students to my favorite locations. Because a storm and strong winds were in the forecast for Friday, we went West to East on the Alpine loop; Durango, Mancos, Dolores, Telluride, Ridgway.
As we approached Dallas Divide, I knew there would be a ton of photographers at the “scenic viewpoint”. So I took my class to one of my favorite locations without crowds. ©Kit Frost
We hit the top of Lizard Head Pass just as a storm hit. So we skipped Telluride, which was to have snow starting at 5pm through 10pm, and drove up to Dallas Divide. I love changeable light and was like a kid in a candy store taking my students up to Ridgway. I wasn’t disappointed.
Once we arrived at our Sunset location at Dallas divide, the Sneffels view was obscured by clouds, but still wonderful for photography and some time laspe, as the storm was driven by strong, cold winds, and was moving fast. At the Divide, the crowds were lined up for sunset and I noticed a strong cloud bank just to the west, where the sun would soon set. I like to be there an hour or more before to scout the light. Even though Star Walk app posted sunset at 7:05 I knew we would be “skunked” out of it if we got there too late. The best time right now is about 5-6:35.
- Between Ouray and Silverton, I’d say the colors are at 50%
- Between Silverton and Coal Bank, I’d say the colors are at 40%
- Between Coal Bank and Durango, give it a week to 10 days for full bloom.
- Between Mancos and Ridgway, give it a week at least, as the aspen, cottonwoods, and oak along the Dolores River, Dunton, and the West Fork of the Dolores, are all still green
Want to learn more about photographing the big scenes in fall color, the intimate aspen forest. Trust a local…join us next Friday, October 4th or on Sunday, October 6th as we take you to our favorite locations along the Alpine Loop. We’ll teach you everything you need to succeed.
The storm cleared for just a moment on Mount Sneffels. I like this composition better when the aspens in the highlights are golden and the oak in the foreground is red-orange. Next week. ©Kit Frost