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Colorado mountain travels Sept-Oct 2008

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Colorado in the fall. A landscape photographer’s tour

Keith’s travels in the Colorado Rockies – September-October 2008
Fall Colors / Autumn leaves

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This photo-diary covers a driving tour around the Colorado Rockies in the Fall (September/October 2008).

Although my third visit to the state, it’s actually the first time I’ve been in Colorado at this time of the year. A good year for the Fall colours.

This time I’m travelling with Karen and we’re leaving the UK via Manchester, which is a new route for me.

Since I’m not on my own, it’s a bit more of a road trip and not quite so heavily phototgraphy oriented as before. That said, I’m getting some excellent photos and look forward to creating some great new prints, black and white as well as colour.

Lone aspen in the rockies

Travelling out to Denver

As ever a coffee before leaving…

It’s only a couple of hours from home to this airport so no need to get up at 3am this time!

breakfast at manchester airport

Now it just happens that I’ve got two cameras with me on this trip.

My normal Canon 1Ds mk3 and the new Ricoh GX200.

The GX200 is on loan from Ricoh for a review I’ll be writing when I get back (I reviewed the very nice GX100 last year)

The pics on this page are from the GX200. Below is some of my reading matter for the trip, the GX200 manual. For once I read most of the manual for a camera I’m using :-)

ricoh gx200 manual

Meanwhile Karen was reading bridal and wedding magazines – to get inspiration for her bridal jewellery business.

flight magazines

Anyway, not a terribly good trip (from a view out of the window point of view)

…but here’s Chicago O’Hare airport, just before we landed.

chicago o'hare view from air

Below, some detail. Both images have been stretched in contrast quite a bit, since it was hazy, and the shot is through a less than optically perfect plane window.

detail o'hare airport

No interesting views on the way to Denver, but we’re here, with a suitably large car for driving round the mountains…

To Estes Park

Travelling from Denver to Estes Park, the entrance to the Rocky Mountains National Park.

A reasonable night’s rest, although it usually takes a day or so for me to adjust my internal clock and not to feel like getting up at 3am :-)

First of all, here’s the GX200 I’m trying out. Its base ISO setting is 64, so I’m hoping that those extra megapixels are not going to require so much noise reduction to lose detail. I’m going to try making some large prints when I get back, so we’ll see…


This is what it’s up against. A Canon 1Ds3 with 14, 15, 16-35, 24-70, and 70-200 lenses.

Oh, and the 24mm tilt/shift lens too.

Canon camera and lenses

Why so many lenses? – well, it’s the first time I’ve used the 21MP 1Ds3 over here and I wanted to do a few experiments and see what worked well.

It’s quite a pleasant journey through the mountains to get to Estes Park from Denver (Hwy. 36)

Two entrances to the Rocky Mountain National Park are just to the west of Estes Park, so I’m planning to cross the park tomorrow.

Its the first time I’ve seen the mountains in the distance below, not draped with snow, since I’ve only previously been here in April.

hwy 36, entrance to estes park

One of the things I’m hoping to catch is a bit of Autumn colour (aka ‘Fall Colors’ )

There are not so many aspen trees this side of the mountains (more in a few days hopefully), but the shot below gives an idea of what I’d like to see.

hwy 34 estes park

It turns out that the best looking tree I saw today was in the town itself

golden aspen, estes park

It also turned out to be extremely busy, with crowds of people everywhere, and huge great queues of traffic building up after lunch, all making their way to the park (should be less busy tomorrow)

Notice all the people standing, dutifully waiting the light to change. In the UK, pedestrian lights are treated as more advisory, and I’ve seen American visitors to the UK standing at the roadside, looking slightly confused as we just walk over the road, ignoring the signs :-)

crowds, estes park

From watching a bit of US TV last night, both Karen and I were struck by how many more adverts were mentioning ‘green’ or ‘eco’ issues.

What has happened? Have rising gas prices finally hit home?

Fortunately, still plenty of my favourite ‘worst view in the rear mirror’ vehicles about.

side of car, estes park

Yes, my favourite ugly US vehicle – created for the terminally devoid of good taste :-)

ugly dodge - estes park

Meanwhile, time to visit a Safeway and stock up on a few essentials, such as tea bags and some fruit.

Pictured below, Karen, trying to ignore all the vast sacks of snacks behind her.

snack isle, safeway, estes park

You really can buy all kinds of useful stuff in Estes park.

An entire store devoted to ‘mountain style’ for example.

I saw this lamp in their window and immediately thought how much my friend Al would like it (he lives over here now and I haven’t seen his latest house, so I expect he’s got lots of stuff like this already ;-)

mountain tat, estes park

An entire store devoted to scissors

scisor emporium, estes park

and another one where you can get crosses, jewellery -and- snacks

christian tat shop

Note that the shop itself is for sale too…

There is also that slightly bizarre passtime of scrapbooking …no-one has managed to explain to me what it’s all about, or even more why anyone would want to do it in the first place.

happy scrapper, estes park

But seriously, we did have a very nice day in the area ;-)

Tomorrow it’s up into the mountains.

Through the Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park to Grand Lake over the 12,000 feet Trail Ridge road.

Leaving our Motel and heading in to Estes Park, it looks to be a good day to drive over the top of the mountains ahead.

As someone who likes black and white landscape photography, the site of clear blue skies is not always welcome, but this time I’m thinking colour (or ‘color’ I suppose for the next couple of weeks)

The road (Hwy 34) goes over 12,000 feet, a climb of nearly 5000 feet from where we are.

I’ve been to the Rocky Mountain National Park twice before in 2004, but both times the road over the top was blocked by snow (it was in May 2004)

Rocky mountain national park in the distance

Heading up to the park shows some of the bright yellow aspen trees. (in car shots by Karen with the GX200 – colour corrected for the tinted windscreen)

just before the entrance to the rocky mountain national park

The colour is very intense when the sun catches them.

golden aspen, catches sunlight

Particularly against a clear blue sky (14mm 2.8L)

aspen goldmore aspens in the rocky mountain national park

The two shots above were taken not far from the Hwy34 entrance to the park.

It’s Elk time, so there were also hoards of photographers standing around some areas, with big long lenses atop tripods.

A momentary diversion on the part of my assistant means we don’t have any photos of them, but if I said 98% male, most wearing hats, many with beards, you can create your own picture…

The view from just above the tree line shows how far we’ve come. (GX200 DNG file with colours corrected in ACR)

looking west in the rocky mountain national park, above the tree line

As I said, photographers everywhere… :-)

photographer in the rockies

Here (since I know my Mum likes to see at least one picture of me on each trip) I am, driving along at 12,000 feet

Keith Cooper - photographer

Note the graduated filter windscreen – continually reminding me why I find them seriously over used in a lot of people’s landscape photography ;-)

Below, we see that Karen has indeed learned well from the ‘Keith Cooper School of Landscape Photography’ – Why get out of the car if it’s too cold/wet/windy and you can get a good shot?

karen saunders - jewellery designer

At the visitor centre, the snow poles give an idea of just how much snow can fall here (presumably they take in the flag when it snows)

US flag and snow poles on trail ridge road

The picture below was taken when I was here last time (May 2004)

12005 feet

12005 feet
High up in the Rocky Mountain NP
At 12,005 feet in the Rocky Mountain NP. The view is of the road through the park which was just open — and was closed again the next day.
— Sizes:|11×7|16×11|25×17


Less snow this tim…

The road then descends quite steeply and you are back in the forests

We’re staying at Grand Lake, which has one wide main street, with boardwalks and lots of shops, many closing down for the end of the season at the end of this month.

grand lake shops

Although there’s lots of trinkets you can buy here, the general feeling is that you get a better class of trinket in Grand Lake than you do in Estes Park.

downtown Grand Lake

An excellent range of ice cream too

ice cream cone

After dropping off our stuff, we had a bit more of a drive around

nissan xterra in the rockies

Where I did get out of the car to take a few more pictures…

It’s a Nisan Xterra (or Nee-san as I believe it’s pronounced over here)

fall cottonwoods hwy 34

In this case, the trees are cottonwoods.

More Colorado colours… Travelling from Grand Lake to Steamboat Springs

In Grand Lake, we stayed at the Rapids lodge, which has a rather good restaurant too.

rapids lodge, grand lake

We headed off along Hwy 34 past Lake Granby, towards the junction of Hwy 40 at Granby.

Another nice day – not normally my favourite for black and white photography…

granby lake

This is from a large collection of shots that I’ll probably have a go at stiching together when I get back.

morning at granby lake

The Wagon Wheel diner at the 34/40 junction

wagon wheel diner

Time for a big US style breakfast

eggs and chicken fried steak

Quite a nice drive – colours turning everywhere (Cottonwoods along the Colorado river)


On the way up Muddy Pass you get some great views of the changing colours

muddy pass

In Steamboat Springs I noticed that all is not well with the Space Station (much like US access to the real one when the shuttle is retired)

space station gas - steamboat springs

This is what it was like back in 2006 when it was a mere $2.96.9 a gallon and the hills had a light dusting of snow. It’s now getting up to $4 (still relatively cheap compared with back in the UK)

Gas price shock

Since it’s not far, we went up to Fish Creek falls.

Karen at Fish Creek falls

Note the much smaller flow of water compared with May 2004 below

Fish Creek falls 5

Fish Creek falls 5.
The falls at Fish Creek, near Steamboat Springs.
This print was produced originally at 64 inches by 30 inches for a local client.
— Sizes:|16×7|24×11


Whilst I’ve had a good look at many of the photos I’ve taken (on my laptop), it’s often not until I see them in detail, or test prints that I know whether an image will ‘work’. Some images work well at web size and as a 20″x30″ print, while others don’t.

I’ve a lot of new prints (160+) to add to the site gallery when I get back – I’d got it sorted out before coming over to the US, but hadn’t quite finished updating all the database that drives the gallery.

The two pictures below were taken along the walk back from the falls

aspen walk

blue sky aspen yellow

We’re staying in Steamboat for a couple of days, so I’ve a few places to have a look at…

The weather forecast is still looking good (it was in the high 70’s today)

In the Steamboat Springs area

A quick drive up to Steamboat lake and the Hahn’s Peak area – no shortage of fall colours.

This morning we took a short drive North of Steamboat Springs, up to Steamboat lake and Hahn’s Peak

The cottonwoods give an idea of the colours to expect.

Road north of Steamboat

Lines of them along rivers and creeks

fall cottonwoods by river

With Aspens on the hillsides

cottonwood fall colors

Not much further on I was pleased to that one of the more enlightened local residents was still around.

warning sign

This photo is actually from my last visit – this time there was someone in a checked shirt and wearing a hat standing nearby, so I decided not to pass the time of the day or photograph them…

Further on we had to slow down for a car having difficulty with an incline.

The pic is with the GX200 through the windscreen, the larger one below is a (sharpened) 100% crop

near hahns peak

One to keep for all those that say I should wash my car more often (it rains frequently enough for my liking)

dirty car

How to build a log cabin…

building with logs

When pulling off the road to take photos, I do have to remember to give Karen advance warning – particularly if it’s not going to be a good idea for her to try and get out of that side of the car ;-)

near hahns peak

The colours really are quite impressive.

When I’m looking at making prints of any of these pictures, I’m going to be very careful with the colour management. There are colours in the image below that are out of gamut for the A98 colour space and my monitor, but can be printed.

steamboat lake fall aspen colors

And some more…

golden aspens, steamboat lake

Just to remind people, this is what it looks like in the Spring

muted colours

but today, the sun is out…

aspens fall coloursgolden aspens on hillside

The two images above are taken with the GX200 (64ISO RAW)

The Eye patterns on the Aspen trunks vary across the State, with differing types of Aspen

Golden aspen eyes

…and some more

aspen trunks near Steamboat lake

It’s a bit more cloud today.

aspen gold and sky

After getting back to Steamboat, we went up to the Ski Village in Steamboat, where there appears to be considerable reconstruction going on.

Steamboat Springs Ski village

There are also some ‘traffic circles’ (or roundabouts as we call them)

steamboat traffic circle

These should always be approached with caution in the US, since they are uncommon enough that you can expect a significant number of people not to yeild (give way) when approaching them.

The building style in parts of the ‘Ski Village’ is somewhat reminiscent of 1970’s Eastern European ‘Concrete’. No statues of Lenin hailing a cab here though.

Presumably a dusting of snow helps alleviate some of the drabness?

workers holiday accomodation

Guess I won’t be staying here for the skiing

Tomorrow it’s heading south…

Steamboat to Leadville

Down CO131, I70 and US24

We headed off down CO131 south of Steamboat. I’ve been this way before (see the last Colorado blog) and was keen to see how different some aspects look.

The shed below (near Yampa) is in several of my photos, but never in such strong colour…

near Yampa

Just a bit further south comes the aptly named ‘Finger Rock’

finger rock, yampa, colorado

The plains get higher and flatter as you head south

high flat plain

There was a great sky though

big colorado sky, south of Yampa

As the road descends, there’s plenty more colour (this blog is getting a bit yellow isn’t it? :-)

horses and Apens

The road goes down sharply as we head for the Colorado River

co 131 cliffs

Not all trees have changed yet.

Minor genetic variations in different related groups of trees affect the precise timing of leaf drop. Trees tend to be related to those near to them. Of course, rock type and drainage have an effect too.

variation in leaf turning

After reaching I70 and driving along (East) for a while, we turned south at Minturn, towards Leadville on US24

south of Minturn

The weather was definitely looking worse as we carried on

bridge on US24

Eventually we reached Leadville

leadville - great at 10,200

A reminder for vistors finding it a bit bleak at 10,000 feet :-)

After stopping of at a motel, I went for a quick ride to turquoise lake.

This is the road at the top of the dam that creates the lake

turquoise lake , leadville

The following shots just show some of the ‘interesting’ weather :-)

mountain weather 1

mountain weather 2

mountain weather 3

Meanwhile, back in Leadville, it’s lost none of its unique charm ;-)

leadville saloon

As you can see, the weather wasn’t looking to improve any time soon…

leadville street 1leadville street 2

Time for an excellent coffee at the “Provin’ grounds”

Provin grounds coffee, leadvilleleadville coffee shop

A quick walk round the town afterwards – but not too far, I’m used to living at 150 feet above sea level, not 10,000.

I saw this lorry and remembered that some product names just wouldn’t transfer across the Atlantic :-)

American Bimbo

Don’t know what/who you’d expect at the Bimbo USA web site, but it probably wasn’t cute, white and furry…

After a day at altitude I think a couple of days at somewhere a bit more upmarket…

Leadville to Aspen via CO82 – Independence Pass

Independence Pass has always been closed when I’ve been in Colorado before…

We drove down to Buena Vista from Leadville for breakfast.

jans at buena vista

No shortage of hot sauces…

coffee and sauce

After a solid breakfast at 7900 feet, it’s back to climbing the mountain pass to Aspen.


Turning on to CO82, you can see the gap in the mountains where we are headed.

twin lakes co82

Twin lakes – heading to Independence Pass on CO82.

view from top of indeoendence pass

You can see the road on the way up. At 12,000 feet you are above the tree line.

The weather was a bit hazy to see really long distances. Once before in Colorado I’ve seen mountain peaks that I know are over 100 miles away.

view at CO82

Most people stop to admire the view.

independence pass colorado

Karen decides that going for a walk at 12,000 feet is not a good idea, after feeling a bit ill at 10,000 in Leadville (altitude sickness can affect -anyone- over about 9,000 feet). It’s one of the reasons we drove to Buena Vista (7900) for breakfast – you feel better that quickly.

reading a book at independence pass

Back down to Aspen and its shops

Just to show that because something is in a Gucci shop window doesn’t make it look any better

tat in a gucci shop, aspen

As I said – lots of expensive stuff in Aspen.

Karen makes bridal jewellery, but is looking confused at a new range of invisible items in this display.

aspen jewellery store

This gas station doesn’t even advertise it’s prices – well, it is Aspen

aspen gas station

The weather is about to change, so snow blowers are up for sale.

shop in aspen selling snow blowers

Excellent machine – don’t think I’ll need one for use in Leicester.

snow blower -aspen

We’re staying in Aspen for a couple of days…

Aspen and Castle Creek

A drive up Castle Creek road and Saturday in Aspen

I drove up Castle Creek road last time I was in Aspen, where there had been a light overnight snowfall and lots more up in the mountains.

It’s quite a dull day, so I wasn’t expecting quite such brilliant colours as earlier in the trip.

Note to Vicky … yes more tree pictures ahead :-)

looking up along castle creek road

This is the view just entering the creek road (I’ll be going to the left of the mountain in the middle of the shot)

tree in autumn

There are far more stands of aspens that have lost all their leaves already – one good storm and much of the colour will be gone.

trees in autumn

Further along the valley you can see the road heading towards Castle Mountain

castle creek towards castle mountain

More trees and a bit of colour

more aspen trees

Eventually (after about 14 miles) the road runs out and it’s only walkers and cyclists can continue.

castle mountain

Oh, and one more tree picture :-)

aspen trunks 3

The water below is from a beaver dam.

You can see the lodge where I’m assuming the beavers are getting ready for the lake to freeze :-)

beaver dam and lodge

Not many leaves left in some areas

last leaves

Anyway, back to Aspen, where it’s the Saturday market

aspen market

As you’d expect for Aspen, this is a slightly more up-market affair.

None of the cheap sets of tools, dodgy DVDs or vegetables with a shelf life of hours, that I might in some UK markets.

I also noticed that getting a camera out did not elicit the looks of suspicion you will find at UK markets – presumably the people here are not worried about people checking if they are claiming unemployment benefit ;-)


Chillis and pumpkins

goat cheese

And of course, a stall from the Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy…

Lots of interesting stalls (including a particularly good pasta seller – that’s presents taken care of)

Nearby, the usual mode of transport

aspen parking

I settled down to a cup of coffee at Zele (opposite the Dior shop)

Even the back alleys are not allowed to look untidy here

aspen back alley

Yet another shop with lots of branches…

Aspen shop branches

Although sadly not open right now…

bulgari - closed

All kinds of shops, including tacky fur shops, that seem to think fur looks good on rich people.

fur shop

Meanwhile, walking past the park, we noticed a couple getting married in the park band stand

paspen park bandstand

Oh, and that gas station I mentioned yesterday that doesn’t advertise its prices.

If you have to ask the price, then you can’t afford it – only in Aspen… :-)

aspen gas prices

The weather is definitely getting worse, so tomorrow we’re heading south west…

Aspen to Ouray

Not so many pics, since the weather has deteriorated a bit and it was mostly travelling today.

Cloudy at Aspen, but no snow yet :-( the weather forecast predicts it for tomorrow though :-)

We’re heading off west towards Carbondale and then turning down CO133 towards Hotchkiss.

mt sophris

You can see that the snow line has descended. The mountain is Mt. Sophris and is over 12,000 feet.

It’s a nice drive along CO133 up towards McClure pass. The road in the picture below is where we’ve just driven along.

mcclure pass

The other side of the pass is a more gentle descent. Including the odd coal mine where half mile long coal trains are loaded.

colorado coal train

I had thought of going across the Grand Mesa, but since it was solid cloud, the view might not be that great.

grand mesa in clouds

This is the view from the top, taken last time I was in the area (it’s an 8 foot wide print)

panoramic view from grand Mesa, colorado

At Delta, we turned south on US50, and then along US550 towards Ouray.

More mountains appear in the cloud…

mountains in colorado

We’re heading towards that gap in the mountains.

us550 to ouray

We’re stopping in Ouray for a couple of days, so tomorrow it’s off to take some more photos :-)

main street ouray

Ouray is a nice little town, with big mountains very close by.


Trip to Telluride – Fall colours

A round trip to Telluride from Ouray, with lots of trees and mountains.

Although it’s not far in a direct line from Ouray to Telluride, there are some quite high mountains in the way, so you drive north to Ridgway, and turn west to travel up over the Dallas Divide pass. and back round to Telluride.

Ridgway, colorado

Not a big place – Ridgway.

Driving along CO62, you get a glimpse of the Mt. Sneffels range of peaks – nicely dusted with fresh snow.

A bit further on.

I thought with all the bright yellow trees I’d best do at least one B/W shot.

The long rise from Ridgway to the Dallas Divide pass has some great overlooks of the Mt. Sneffels range of mountains.

This is a Google Earth map that shows the relationship of the towns, roads and mountains.

View Larger Map

I took quite a few sets of photos in order to stitch together – there’s no quick way to try this on my laptop, so I’ve included a range of pictures to give an impression of the views…

Keith Cooper checking camera in the mountains

Karen took this one of me checking a camera setting or something (while she sat in the car reading ;-)

A bit further along I came across a collection of photographers, including a big 4×5 view camera.

This is what they were looking at.

sneffels range and fall colours

No autofocus on a 5×4 view camera

Note the interesting lens flare (this was with the GX200)

If you’re curious about such cameras, I’ve written an article about making an adapter to use a DSLR on a 5×4 camera(or 4×5 as they are known in the US)

A bit further up the road.

The road towards Telluride.

The high mountains you can see are the other side of those in the photograph above.

telluride valley

Telluride is right at the end of the valley. There are back roads that go up over the top to Ouray and other places, but not with last night’s snowfall.

Telluride parking

Telluride street.

Telluride main street

We stopped for coffee at the ‘Steaming Bean Coffee Co.’

Telluride has a somewhat more ‘laid back’ feel than the likes of Aspen – here’s someone sitting outside of the ‘Steaming Bean’, reading the Telluride ‘Daily Planet’

It even has its own film academy

telluride film academy

On the way back to Ouray I turned up a back road, and guess what?

More nice aspens and mountains…

sneffels range and aspens 3

I also had a chat with another pro photographer, Todd Caudle, who was out getting some more landscape shots.

Thanks to all the photographers I chatted with today – always nice to hear of other’s work. I did discover that this years colours are reckoned to be some of the best in the last 15 years :-)

Ouray to Durango via Silverton

Along the million dollar highway

The road (US 550) rises sharply out of Ouray

ouray overlook

You can see it’s in a quite steep valley

us 550 - million dollar highway

After a few miles of this it flattens out, but not before Karen likened it more to a rollercoaster ride (and I was driving carefully ;-) I guess sometimes it’s better to actually be at the wheel of the car

A stream further up shows one of the big problems in this mineral rich area.

Pollution from mine workings has stained the river brown. There are lots of special ponds and filtering beds to improve this, but over a hundred years of mineral extraction has left problems.

pollution from mining

This small lake, is I believe, part of the clean-up scheme (and water storage too)

lake in the mountains US 550

The wider view below was taken with the Canon 15mm fisheye lens. Note its resistance to flare and the fact that by keeping the horizon through the centre of the (original) frame, there is little obvious distortion

mountain lke

On to Silverton, which had a distinctly empty feel when we first got there

silverton main street

In a nearby hillside, you can see evidence of mining

mine workings

Then the train from Durango arrives.

It’s a narrow gauge steam railway that takes a few hours to wind its way up through the mountains from Durango. It then turns round, waits a while and goes back.

481 arrives at Silverton

A very scenic ride I’m told

no. 481

Today also happened to be the paricular day that children from Silverton Kindergarten welcome the arrival of the train (note minder/handler in dark shades to the right :-)

silverton welcome

A few more shots of the train for several folks back home :-)

No.481 at silverton

engine no.481 - durango and silverton railroad

loco and tender 481 durango and silverton

As the train emptied, the local shops readied themselves to supply gifts and trinkets for the journey back down from the mountains.

silverton cross emporium

With all kinds of enticements to get shoppers inside

warm stove inside

No pies though…

no pies silverton

The journey down towards Durango had lots of views of nicely coloured trees…

lake and mountains

Durango itself is rather a nice looking town.

Karen is checking that I’ve put enough money into the parking meter, since there is a bead shop over the other side of the road.

durango parking meter

A pleasant main street

durango main street

With some relatively old buildings

durango street corner

Tommorow it’s off again… I’ve now got to think of places to go on the way back towards Denver (where we may stay a couple of days)

Durango to Gunnison via Creede

Travelling East along US160 and then up CO149 through Creede and Lake City to Gunnison.

Clear blue skies are not usually my favourite photographic conditions, but they made for a a nice journey today.

Heading east out of Durango along US160 is a nice journey. The picture below is along Wolf Creek, heading towards the pass.

wolf creek

The rocks are volcanic in this area, giving this distinctive weathering style.

Indian head

The map shows the area we covered today.

View Larger Map

In fact, the lump of rock to the right of the picture above is right in the middle of the one below.

view along wolf creek

rocks at wolf creek

Still many aspens holding on to their leaves

aspen leavesaspen leaves 2

There is no shortage of helpful road signs in the US – we were wondering why the road vanished into the dark hole in the rocks.

road tunnel

We stopped off in Creede for lunch.

creede street

I can certainly recommend the Cafe Ole – best BLT sandwich I’ve had for a long while :-|)

cafe ole creede

Afterwards we headed off towards Gunnison

co149 towards powderhorn

Whilst I like the colours, I’d prefer to see lots of interesting cloud for black and white shots

This was a similar view last time I was going along this road

powderhorn, along co149

The Gunnison Sonic is being rebuilt

gunnison sonic

This is what it looked like last time I was here (note more interesting clouds too!)

old sonic

Anyway, I just fancied a good cup of tea, and was able to get one at a local coffee shop.

tea at the bean

And in a bit of experimentation, it seems that the GX200 really does focus down to 1cm (top is from Karen’s fizzy drink :-)

bottle top

We’re staying in Gunnison for a couple of days

Gunnison to Crested Butte and back via Ohio Pass

Up over one of the mountain passes that was closed when I was last here.

Crested Butte in the distance

distant view of crested butte

and the view in 2006 (much colder)

distant view of crested butte - spring

Crested Butte

crested butte, with crested butte in the background

A local attorney and property shop.

Crested butte - old building

A large delivery of tea is underway from Xing Tea

xing tea

Off up towards Kebler Pass.

road to kebler pass

Last time I was here (2006), this was as far as I could get, because of the snow.

snowmobiles, Kebler pass

No problem this time. The road carries on towards the McClure pass area, where we were at, the other day

We turned off towards Ohio Pass (also closed when I was here about 4 years ago)

kebler - ohio pas colorado

This is the view back towards Gunnison as you cross the pass.

crossing ohio pass

As you’d expect, lots of trees

more aspen trees

yes, lots of them…

autumn aspens

A really nice day to spend in the mountains

car parked - ohio pass, gunnison, colorado

This is the road ahead

aspen road =ohio pass, gunnison colorado

And another view

avenue of aspens

A popular pass-time, at least the marks will last for years…

The mountain below is entirely natural, it’s called Castle Mountain – looks just like some ruins.

A distinctly LOTR look according to Karen :-)

Castle Mountain, colorado

Of course you don’t have to drive miles up a mountain pass – you could always cycle it ;-)

cycling up Ohio pass, colorado

Back in Gunnison we went out for some food, noticing that the flag had been lowered at the liquor store

liquor store at night - gunnison

This from last time – note the USMC flag. Karen wondered if there was any ceremony at sunset?

gunnison liquor store

Motels often have notices up to entice passing visitors… ??

motel sign gunnison

And the Sonic is deserted

empty sonic

Tomorrow – further East

Gunnison to Salida and the Sand dunes

Stopping off at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

We travelled east from Gunnison and turned dow CO114 towards Saguache

The Volcanic rocks give a distinct type of landscape.


A Map of where we were – click the ‘TER’ buttton to get a feel for where the hilly bits are :-)

View Larger Map

More shots from my assistant :-)

view along co114

rock outcrop on CO114

At lower levels the Cottonwoods are still brightly coloured, although many aspens have now lost their leaves


So, on to US285 heading south

A big wide flat plain, with not much rain – the San Luis valley is a good place for solar energy

solar energy site - san luis valley

There was a distinct haze from dust in the air, and getting nearer to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, you could clearly see it being blown along.

The wind was gusting to 50mph, more than enough to move the sand at dune crests (picture is a crop of a shot from about a mile away)

sand blowing over the top of a dune

The dunes are huge – note people for scale.

great sand dunes

Very windy, this was a flowing creek last time I was here. I do normally teach people to keep their shadow out of the picture…

photographer's shadow

With the blowing sand (look at the tips of the dunes) it was somewhat hazy, but the clouds make interesting patterns on the dunes.

dunes and cloud shadows

This was in April 2004, when the Medano Creek was in full spate

medano creek


After leaving, we had to stop for Karen to retrieve some important items from the back of the car.


We’ve stopped off in Salida

A conveniently placed kerbside flag helps locate the car

roadside US flag

And a pleasant coffee shop (Karen not shown due to bead shop next door ;-)

coffee shop salida

We’re now in Salida and heading north on Saturday.

This probably marks the end of the daily blog, since it takes a while to do each day and we’re going to have a few days ‘holiday’ before coming back on the 14th ;-)

Depending on the weather and where we go, there will be a few more pages, but they may be delayed a day or so.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions – hope you’ve found the pages of some interest :-)

Salida to Frisco

A big change in the weather – it’s starting to snow.

A short blog today since it rained/snowed for a lot of the journey – I’ve added additional pictures, that Karen took whilst we were driving.

This is the hill with a big ‘S’ on it, near to Salida and its charming gravel works.

Salida S

It’s a common site, letters on hillsides in the US – something to do with colleges mostly :-)

We headed north out of Salida.

The peaks in the first picture are part of the Collegiate range (Yale, Princeton etc)

collegiate peaks

The second shot is looking more to the west.

west of Salida

From a photography point of view, I’ll take a sky like this in preference to a clear blue one, most days :-)

The picture below was taken through the car window with the GX200.

tree and storm

By the time we got to Fairplay, it was time for a snack at the Brown Burro.

The people in camouflage gear (except the hat) are just off hunting… (far be it for me to take picture of groups of people in the US, just because they conform to our UK stereotypes ;-) )

off huntin'

Afterwards, the weather got worse :-)

snowy road in Colorado

Lots of snow was forecast…

Loveland Pass and Frisco

A quick trip up Loveland Pass from Frisco.

We’re having a bit of a break from travelling long distances, before coming back home. Although the weather forecast predicted several inches of snow last night, there was only a light fall higher up the mountains.

On the way to Loveland Pass we passed the Arapahoe ski area, where they are using snow machines to get a ski run open.

arapahoe basin

A contrast enhanced 100% crop from the image above, showing one of the snow machines and footsteps of someone who had to go up and fire them up.

snow machine, arapahoe basin

Loveland pass is just over 12,000 feet – very cold and windy (although nowhere near as bad as in winter)

Here’s Karen, wearing two coats and a hat.

Karen saunders at loveland pass, colorado

And here I am…

Keith Cooper at loveland pass, colorado

Coming back along I-70, we came through the Eisenhower Tunnel.

i-70 eisenhower tunnel

40 years ago, you’d have had to go over Loveland Pass to head west.

Back in Frisco I went out for a cup of coffee, and spotted this butterfly making the most of the sunshine.

butterfly on grass - Frisco

I looked round and for a moment thought Karen’s sister had joined us… (standing on the tree trunk :-)

Karen and her friend

In a small park in Frisco, there are loads of these things hanging from trees – some Halloween related activity…

thing in tree

And in other news, I was interviewed by a local TV station when up at Loveland Pass and I was pulled over by the police for running a stop sign at a shopping centre :-)

Unfortunately, my TV interview was trumped by a lady who had never seen snow before :-)

Back to Denver from Frisco via Mt Evans

OK, up to the bottom of the Mt. Evans road, since it was closed by the snow.

Just a quick blog to finish things off :-)

Rather than just drive back to Denver along I-70, we turned off towards the Mt Evans road

Still a few Fall colours, despite the snow.

snow on fall Aspen

Up at 11,000 feet there was a bit more snow

This is echo Lake at the entrance to the Mt Evans Road. Unfortunately closed

Echo lake, Mt Evans, Colorado

A bit further on (Juniper Pass) there was quite a bit of snow

Mt Evans snowy trees

You can clearly see the level of the snow in this view of the mountains to the East

snowy view of the rockies

I’ll tidy up the blog and maybe add a few missing pictures when I’m back in the UK

I’m hoping to have a review of the GX200 in a few weeks, in fact over the next couple of months you should be seeing a lot of pictures from this trip appearing in new reviews.

Back to the UK

The end of the trip – Hope you’ve enjoyed some of the pics.

Just 3 pics taken through the window (with the GX200) , when leaving Chicago O’Hare airport flying back to Manchester, UK.

AA 767 at ohare

ohare sunset

taxing into sunset, Ohare airport chicago

It was of course raining when we got back to Manchester, UK :-)

Now to sort through all the photos I’ve taken :-)

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