Winding back across the southern portion of the Elk Range, I turned north and headed up McClure pass, which has been a reliable spot for beautiful color on my past years' trips. Do note that currently road construction near the Paonia reservoir can cause a substantial delay (30+ min) during business hours, weekdays, and there is no decent bypass to the construction zone. Upon reaching McClure pass from the south, I found most of the southern slopes just barely beginning to change color, with a bit more yellow at the higher elevations towards Chair Mountain.
Near McClure Pass, Colorado
Cresting the pass, slopes on the north side showed a bit more color, as did the distant ridges and peaks to the north and east, however, I would still say this area is currently quite a bit before peak, based on my past experiences of just how electric these hills become.
Near McClure Pass, Colorado Heading down the road to Marble, I saw a lot of nice color along the Crystal River, from Aspen and Cottonwood, to Willow and smaller brush, the valley floor showed a nice range from green to dark yellow. The slopes around Marble showed a bit more color than those closer to McClure Pass as well. Still not what I would call peak, but a nice, early range of colors. Shockingly, as I drove through the valley Monday afternoon, it was pushing 85F on my car's thermometer, not what one expects at 7000ft in the last few days of September.
Near Marble, Colorado.
From Marble, I headed on to the Aspen area, specifically the Castle and Maroon Creek drainages, both of which were simmering with fall shades from top to bottom. I would say that the lower sections of Castle Creek were definitely not near peak yet, with plenty of greens still on display, however, the upper reaches were peaking, with vibrant yellows and hints of orange.
Along Castle Creek, Colorado. Along Castle Creek, Colorado. Maroon Creek, on the other hand, oddly showed some trees past peak, having dropped their leaves, in its' lower reaches, while the upper end above 8500ft was simply spectacular with wall-to-wall yellows and oranges, and just a few hints of green yet to turn. Hiking up West Maroon Creek from the tourist stalwart Maroon Lake, the color continued to come in waves, all the way up beyond Crater Lake, where the aspen dwindled, but the smaller bushes and shrubs showed a variety of autumnal hues.
Maroon Lake, Colorado.
Above Maroon Lake, Colorado
Look forward to one or two more reports as I make my way to and from Denver over the coming weekend. Happy shooting!