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Author Topic: Suggestions for Aspen, CO  (Read 1577 times)
chandsa
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« on: July 18, 2013, 03:41:17 PM »
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Hey folks,

I will be in Aspen, CO for about a week beginning next Friday 07/26. I've done a little searching here on the forums as well as on the Internet and find that there are plenty of opportunities in and around Aspen to indulge in landscape photography. Bad part is I'll be attending a conference and hence will not have time during the bulk of the day to venture out.

Here are some thoughts on where I can possibly go. If you can chime in with suggestions or little tweaks to the locations below I'd greatly appreciate it.

1. Obvious choice - Maroon Bells - its probably the closest location to Aspen about a 30-40 minute drive from the city center. I'm probably going to rent a car, so I should be able to access this location well after 5:00pm. From your experience,
  • (a) Is this a good location for Sunrise or Sunset? Or both?
  • (b) And how far of a hike is it from the parking lot to get to the lake? I am aware that there is no food/gas stations around that area.
  • (c) Should I be worried about encountering wildlife while I'm there?
2. Depending on the time I have in the evenings, I'm thinking about driving to Twin Lakes over Independence Pass and then further down on US 24/285 to Collegiate Peaks.
  • (a) Which places along this route offer the best possible viewing spots for catching a good Sunset/Sunrise?
  • (b) Would I be better of heading south on US 24 towards Buena Vista and Nathrop or would it be better to head up north towards Leadville?
3. On the Sunday that I will have to myself i'm thinking of heading to Black Canyon near Gunnison. It seems like I can either go to the North Rim or the South Rim. Question is, which road offers better photographic opportunities? From the articles I've read it seems to me that the South Rim is more popular as the roads are paved, while the road to the North Rim is not paved. Am I mistaken in my understanding?

4. I'm also thinking if I continue with option # 2 and head further on down towards Poncha Springs, I could take US50 West and head to Crested Butte for some landscapes with summer wildflowers. However, the driving time for a round trip might make me think twice about this one. One way to Crested Butte from Aspen takes about 3 + hours is what Google Maps tells me. Don't know if i'll have enough time to get there, set up and get back, especially as my days will end at 5:00pm.

So please let me know if i'm being over ambitious or if you have any other suggestions for me.

Thanks in advance!
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Johnny_Johnson
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 05:17:01 PM »
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Before you go to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison I'd advise doing some surfing and see if any of the photographs from that location inspire you. It's a relatively narrow, deep canyon and I found it difficult to get any pleasing compositions there. YMMV

Later,
Johnnyy
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Johnny Johnson
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chandsa
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 08:17:09 PM »
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Thanks for the heads up Johnny! Yeah i've done a little bit of searching and I haven't found many inspiring images of the canyon either, but didn't know how sunrise/sunset lighting would be on the walls of the canyon.

Cheers!
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Jon Meddings
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 12:01:04 PM »
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Chandsa, I don't have any suggestions to add as it has been a long time since I've been there.  Here is a shot of Marroon Belles though and it is a sunrise shot.....

http://www.pbase.com/meddings/image/48180206/original.jpg
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chandsa
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 12:49:43 PM »
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Jon,

That is a BEAUTIFUL image! Is that Maroon Lake in the foreground? How far of a hike is it from the parking lot, if you can recall?

Thanks for sharing your lovely shot!
Sai
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bill proud
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 03:13:19 PM »
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Chandsa,

Maroon Bells is typically an iconic morning shot and one of the premier sights of Colorado. The Bells sit south of Maroon Lake, which is 100 yards or less from the paved parking lot. Access the road before 8:00 A.M. as they close it for buses after 8:00. I haven't been in a few years so I'm guessing on the time. If you go for a sunrise you will easily beat that time. If you like to walk around there are numerous vantage spots to frame the peaks.

There is also Crater Lake closer to the peaks, which is a fairly wide shot but a great hike.

There used to be old mine buildings near the top of Independence Pass with a window in one to frame the peaks back to the west as a shot.

South toward Buena Vista is scenically better than Leadville direction and both are long two lane drives from Aspen.

Crested Butte is a ways from Aspen. You could drive up to Carbondale, then west on 133 by Redstone, a cute little art town, over McClure Pass toward Paonia. Then drive over Kebler Pass from the bottom of Paonia Reservoir, which is dirt, although a good road, and has the highest concentration of Aspen trees in the state. My opinion.

You will be in Aspen though, which is quite the place and worth discovering, of all the towns in Colorado. I think there is an art festival that weekend as well.




 
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chandsa
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 05:35:15 PM »
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Maroon Bells is typically an iconic morning shot and one of the premier sights of Colorado. The Bells sit south of Maroon Lake, which is 100 yards or less from the paved parking lot. Access the road before 8:00 A.M. as they close it for buses after 8:00. I haven't been in a few years so I'm guessing on the time. If you go for a sunrise you will easily beat that time. If you like to walk around there are numerous vantage spots to frame the peaks.

Bill,

Thanks for the confirmation! I'm glad to hear that this will be a sunrise rather than a sunset location. I plan on being there before sunrise, so getting there shouldn't be a problem. From what i've read on Roaring Fork Transit Authority's website it appears that the road is closed for motorized vehicles, except buses from 9:00am - 5:00pm. From 5:00pm - 9:00am one can pay the $10 recreation fee and head out to the Bells.

There is also Crater Lake closer to the peaks, which is a fairly wide shot but a great hike.

That's good to know. I wasn't aware of this!

There used to be old mine buildings near the top of Independence Pass with a window in one to frame the peaks back to the west as a shot.

Very nice tip!! Thanks for this info. I will certainly keep an eye out for these when I drive over Independence Pass to Twin Lakes.

South toward Buena Vista is scenically better than Leadville direction and both are long two lane drives from Aspen.

Yup, I read that too, but with the right kind of weather I'm sure the scenery is worth the drive.

Crested Butte is a ways from Aspen. You could drive up to Carbondale, then west on 133 by Redstone, a cute little art town, over McClure Pass toward Paonia. Then drive over Kebler Pass from the bottom of Paonia Reservoir, which is dirt, although a good road, and has the highest concentration of Aspen trees in the state. My opinion.

You will be in Aspen though, which is quite the place and worth discovering, of all the towns in Colorado. I think there is an art festival that weekend as well.

There seem to be a lot of activities going on in Aspen that week i'm there. Thanks, i'll check out the info about the art festival too!!

Appreciate your help Bill! And I forgot to mention, that is a FANTASTIC shot of the Maroon Bells! Really pleasing to the eye. I especially love the reflections!

Thanks for sharing!
Sai
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Jon Meddings
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« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 12:52:09 PM »
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Thanks Chandsa - this is very close to the parking lot as I recall.  I think there were some excellent suggestions given by Bill and Darren. They know this area far better than I!!
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chandsa
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2013, 11:09:43 PM »
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Hey folks,

Just a quick trip report. Getting into and out of Aspen was a nightmare and both ways I ended up missing my connection in Denver. The airlines are sleazy and don't give a flying flip about the customers. Now that i'm done with my rant, here's what I did:

1. Supposed to get in on Friday, July 26th, but didn't get in till the a'noon of Saturday, July 27th. Got my car and drove on CO-82, eastward stopping along the way to shoot the wildflowers at various points. Also stopped at Independence, a nice little ghost town and trekked through to the cabins. The light was just right, with numerous clouds and thunderheads passing through the area. I was lucky that the storms did not break out and drench me. I spent a good 3-4 hours here before heading further up the Cut and then onto Independence Pass. Stopped at the overlook and again risked getting drenched, and was lucky to successfully evade the storms again. I didn't know that this would be a good spot for a sunset, so I headed on further east to Twin Lakes where the storms finally caught up with me Grin. From here I didn't have the motivation to either head up north to Leadville or south to Buena Vista. At this point, I just went in to the general store, got myself an ice cream and started driving back.

2. Didn't head out the next day as the weather was quite pathetic. On Monday, I headed out to the Bells in the afternoon. Took the 3:30pm bus just to scout the area to come back for sunrise when the weather permitted. The peaks were shrouded in the clouds and I didn't spot the peaks during the time I was there.

3. Tuesday morning was bad again, however, the clouds started to roll out and away. For the first time I saw blue since the time of my arrival. Went to the Aspen Music festival, which was quite good!

4. The forecast for Wednesday was blue skies, no rain, no clouds. AS a photographer I thought no clouds sounded a little disappointing, but boy was I wrong. I actually enjoyed the back ground of sapphire blue skies against the Maroon peaks of the Bells. Spent about 3 hours from before sunrise till about 9:00am trekking the scenic trail and capturing some really good shots with the wildflowers in the foreground. I had grandiose plans to return again on Thursday morning. Since the forecast called for clouds rolling in later in the evening, and the weather didn't disappoint. I headed out for sunset to Independence Pass again, stopping along the way to take in some more scenic shots. On reaching the Independence Pass overlook I scouted a couple of trails that lead away from the overlook and then settled in on a spot on the paved path to the overlook to get my sunset shots. And boy, what a sunset it was! By the time I was done with the sunset (and scaring away another photographer who thought I was a bear!!!!) and headed back, it was well past 10:30pm. My grandiose plans to go back for sunrise on Thursday didn't pan out as I was in no condition to wake up at 4:30 and head out there again.

5. Thursday mid-morning, took the gondola up to the top of Aspen mountain. The views are just spectacular!! I'll have to find out if its even possible to get up to the peak by car or if one has to hike up there to catch the sunrise. I'd imagine that sunrise/sunset would be more spectacular from this location. Best way would be to perhaps visit in late fall/early winter to find out.

In short, this little resort town was fabulous and I certainly will return to Aspen and the Bells, perhaps next year, to photograph the fall colour. I knew I was being over ambitious in planning out drives to other places far away, but once I was in Aspen and saw how much there is to photograph I realized that driving out to these other locations I mentioned in my initial post would just not be very good use of my time.

Once again, thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

Cheers!
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