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Thread: Planning Colorado trip mid September

  1. #1

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    Planning Colorado trip mid September

    I'm planning a trip to Colorado in mid September. Will have about a week for exploring and have an open itinerary. I was considering going as far as Four Corners, but could go in any direction.

    I'd appreciate suggestions of places (towns, sights, scenic routes, or specifics about the well known parks) that forum members have found particularly colorful and/or interesting for LF photography at that time of year.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.

    Dennis
    I know just enough to be dangerous !

  2. #2

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    The San Juan Mountains - not sure exactly when peak fall colors will be this year, but mid to late September should be pretty close. I was in the area in July; it was nice then, but I was thinking it'd really be great in the fall.

    Bob

  3. #3
    David Lobato David Lobato's Avatar
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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    The Grotto on Independence Pass is supposed to be beautiful, a friend speaks highly of it. Among my experiences; the area around Crested Butte has many aspen groves for excellent fall color. My suggestion is to drive the scenic loop from Durango to Cortez to Rico to Telluride to Silverton. Mesa Verde National Park is near Cortez and is well worth a day's visit. Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great place for LF photography.

  4. #4

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    +1 for Great Sand Dunes NP - a massive dune field bordered by the Sangre de Cristo mountains. There may be a few patches of aspen color mid september.

  5. #5

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    Monument valley UT is just to the west of the 4 corners and truly impressive.

    Mesa Verde is great too for all the cliff dwellings and such.

    Silverton and Ouray are classics for high rugged colorful mountain stuff.

    Durango has the D&SNG coal fired steam railroad which can be fun and goes to Silverton through some great scenery as well as the train itself as subjects. The train ride is long, my standard advice is to go with someone you enjoy because you are going to have plenty of time to talk. If you leave at 8-9 you'll be back by 4-5.

    If you aren't into long train rides the drive from Durango to Silverton via Lime Creek road is no slouch and the drive from Silverton to Ouray will typically make a first timer's butt pucker big time.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  6. #6
    westernlens al olson's Avatar
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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    Dennis, it really depends on what subject matter you are looking for. We have trees and we have mountains. There are also ghost towns, old mine and mill structures, Anasazi ruins, etc. Around here (Pagosa Springs) the Aspens are usually in their prime the last week of September and the first week of October. Creede is usually a week ahead of us and Creede also has some of the best old mine structures along their Mine Tour Loop.

    I should mention that they just finished filming The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and for a while this summer the Mine Tour Loop was closed to tourists.

    Because of the unseasonably warm temperatures in June the alpine wildflowers that are usually in their prime by mid July were past bloom this year. I mention this because the Aspens may be similarly affected.

    North of Durango, along US 550, is also a great area for fall color. Going north to Silverton, take the road along the Animas River up to Animas Forks. There are many old mine ruins up the side gulches. The Forks has number of houses still standing. The Frisco Mill is a little farther up the road. The timbers are still intact and it is possible to walk around inside the mill structure.

    Or you can take the road from Animas Forks over Engineer Pass. Much of this is a one lane shelf road that is not for people with vertigo. The pay off is a splendid view at the top of the pass where you can look across the basin and see a ring of 14ers from the Collegiate Range. This definitely requires a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle and skid plates are recommended. Jeeps can be rented in Silverton or Ouray.

    Down the east side of the pass are a couple of ghost towns that at one time contained several hundred people, but now only a few buildings are standing (Actually, there is only one cabin left in Capitol City which at one time was considered to be a contender for the state capitol). You can reach Lake City which, although not a ghost town, contains some of the old western Victorian architecture. You can do the return trip from Lake City to Animas Forks via Cinnamon Pass. Top speed on these passes is about 5mph.

    If you are looking for Anasazi ruins there is Mesa Verde (already mentioned), Chimney Rock, the ruins around Dolores, or you can cross the border into NM and tour Chaco Canyon. There is camping available, but the nearest motel is about an hour's drive. Likewise, south of Farmington there is Bisti with an interesting vista of hoodoos.

    Let us know what your interests are and we can provide you with better information.
    al

  7. #7

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    Thank you to all of the above people - biedron, David, civich, Mark and Al for your suggestions.

    My interests are varied - I especially like colorful landscape subjects, old towns & their buildings, mountain scenery, ruins, dunes etc. Your suggestions cover all these and more. I'm hoping to get some good fall color - aspens and such and also hope to drive a mountain pass or two. I'll do some additional research based on your input. Sounds as though the southwest quadrant of the state offers the variety I'd enjoy. Thanks again to all.

    Dennis
    I know just enough to be dangerous !

  8. #8

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    You might be a touch early for the fall colors- but its been a really dry year so who knows? Stressed trees might just get ready for winter early- Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a pretty good location for just about everything on your list with the exception of dunes

  9. #9

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    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    Flat tops, Estes Park, Buena Vista, Ouray--all good. Take a dip at Glenwood Springs while you're at it
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

  10. #10

    Re: Planning Colorado trip mid September

    Dennis--More than likely you will be using I-70 to travel West out of Denver--immediately, you will hit, Historic Georgetown, the Silver Queen of the West---small community, Victorian buildings, mining/railroad heritage, jeeping, then into the Vail valley for the scenics of the Gore Range, perhaps hitting the Flat Tops out of Dotesero or the Colo River Rd downvalley, & on to Aspen & the Maroon Bells, Independance Pass--then west to Grand Junction to hit Colorado National Monument (red rocks) in Fruita--that's more than a week for sure--then perhaps going south towards Telluride/Silverton/Durango. Or backtrack from Fruita & hit Steamboat (ranching scenics) & into Rocky Mt National Park (elk, scenics).

    September is a good month--for climate change, colors, temps, some snow up high, rates are starting to drop--you just will not have enough time to do it all---so hit a spot & stay awhile--there's more to each of these locals than you can cover.

    Raymond--
    Edwards, Co--in the Vail Valley

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