Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Rocky Mountain High
With an analytical approach and a love for dramatic peaks and roaring rivers, Glenn Randall lives where he gets plenty of photographic opportunities every day of the year
The San Juans probably have the most abundant wildflower fields in the state. Dozens of 4WD roads crisscross the range, providing easy access to rich alpine meadows. Backpackers should make the nine-mile trek to the headwaters of the East Fork of the Cimarron River below Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks, which are both fourteeners. Wilderness veterans ready for arduous off-trail adventures should explore the Needle Mountains and Grenadier Range, particularly Sunlight Lakes, Vestal Basin, Ruby Basin and No Name Creek.
The aspen grow at lower elevations than the alpine wildflowers, so my approach is different. For the most part, the best groves can be reached by road, paved or otherwise. Easy road access also means much of the land is private, with lots of barbed-wire fences and no-trespassing signs. You definitely should shoot the world-famous (and crowded) view of the Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake near Aspen, but don’t limit your fall-color shooting to the Bells. In the Aspen area, explore the paved Castle Creek Road and the rougher, dirt Capitol Creek Road. When the leaves fall near Aspen, head southwest and check out the good gravel road over Kebler Pass, which connects Crested Butte to Highway 133. Kebler Pass is reputedly the site of the largest aspen groves in the state. In the San Juans, explore County Roads 5, 7 and 9, as well as Last Dollar Road, all of which start from Highway 62 between Ridgway and Placerville. All give spectacular views of the Sneffels Range. And don’t forget both sides of Owl Creek Pass, which connects Ridgway to Silver Jack Reservoir.
Page 3 of 4
Get 11 Issues of Outdoor Photographer for only $14.97!
That's 77% off the cover price!