Autumn color comes early to the high elevations of Colorado! By mid September the aspens along the lower Rocky Mountains are already beginning to turn their shades of golden yellow and oranges. My husband and I returned from a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, last week, and we knew we should take a "Leaf Peeping" trip to catch some of the spectacular color as soon as possible. Unfortunately, last Sunday was an overcast and hazy day, with predictions of rain, but that made us all the more anxious to see the colors before the trees lost their leaves. Almost as soon as we started out driving west on Highway 285 we were rewarded with our first glimpses of the patchwork colors of autumn aspen trees on the distant mountains!
The closer we drove, the more vibrant the colors became. even with the misty sky! Although it was overcast, it was a fairly warm and pleasant day at lower elevations.
When we entered Clear Creek County, we saw that the aspens had begun the process of changing from green to their deep golden autumn color. We heard that the unusual wet and rainy summer we had in this part of Colorado this year was going to bring exceptional color, and it looked to be true!
Everything looked picture perfect!
We decided to drive the entire Guanella Pass, which connects the town of Grant to the town of Georgetown, both in Clear Creek County. At its highest point the 22 mile long pass is at 11,670 feet.
The first 12 miles from Grant towards Georgetown is unpaved and the speed limit is slow--perfect for observing the beauty of the surrounding Arapaho and Pike National Forests and the Mt. Evans Wilderness. which lies east of the pass. This pass is closed in winter, as it is not plowed by the county during that time.
We stopped at many pull outs, and took short walks on hiking trails along the road.
Although I would have preferred the bright blue Colorado sky to be showing in these photos, I think the more subdued, stormy sky brought out the tree colors just as well.
We were surprised to see a lot of reddish colored aspens--it is a rarer color to see for this genre of tree!
Most of these photos were taken as we drove...
...but every now and then we stopped for a closer look
Would you like to listen to this waterfall? Just click through to my facebook page at this link to watch a short video. You can also click "Like" on my facebook link-to-follow Mille Fiori Favoriti on facebook at this link. This creek was running strongly and the water certainly fitted the name of Clear Creek County.
The pine forest remains green all year long, and they are a wonderful backdrop for the bright autumn colors.
I loved this pretty meadow, where even the shrubs were turning fall colors.
The horses were very intent on grazing.
A view of a beautiful home along the road. Although the land surrounding the pass was comprised of much wilderness there were also areas that were private property.
"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons" ~ Jim Bishop
"Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty., as if nature had been saving up all year for the Grand Finale." Lauren Destefano
Did you notice the deer jumping into the woods in the first collage, and the photos of the mountain goats in the collage above? Click on to enlarge the collages for easier viewing. It is always nice to see wildlife in a natural setting and it is a good reminder to drive slowly when on roads such as this one.
Speaking of wildlife, look at this moose my son and his family saw along the Peak to Peak Highway last week! Moose are always a rare sight to see in Colorado, as they are not indigenous creatures to our state. Twelve moose were brought to Rocky Mountain National Park by wildlife managers from Wyoming and Utah in 1978. You can read more about this fact on this link. Happily they thrived and multiplied until their number is estimated to be above 2,000 in Colorado. They can be unpredictable, and their kick can be deadly, so it is always wise to stay a good distance away if you see one!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long as I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
From the poem "The Road Less Traveled By" ~ Robert Frost
We could not take either path for very long that day, as the rain finally came!
We ended our ride on the Guanella Pass in the historic town of Gerogetwon, Colorado. I showed more about this town's charming Christmas festival on this link. This day I enjoyed a delicious bowl of Green Chili Soup at Ed's 1859 Cafe, which was the perfect way to end a perfect Colorado day!
And now for the winner of the 16 x 20 Easy Canvas photo canvas, with free shipping and handling, like the one my husband and I had made from a photo we took on the summit of 14,270 foot Mt. Evans, that we are absolutely thrilled with!
Using the web site Random.org, the following blog comment was chosen as the winner # 5! That commnet was left by The Gathering Place. Congratulations, Joann! Please e-mail me and I will send the free code and instructions on how to place your Easy Canvas order!
I'm linking this post to the following blog events:
Thanks to all the blog hosts!* In full disclosure, this is a sponsored post by Easy Canvas. I was provided with a free wall canvas print by Easy Canvas, and Easy Canvas will be providing the code for one winner to obtain a free 16 x 20 canvas from a photo of their choice with free shipping and handling.