Fall Color over Guanella Pass

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Raking the Leaves. The late afternoon sunlight skims the top of aspens covered a steep slope near Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 220mm, 1/500 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

About two weeks ago we drove a loop that went over Guanella Pass, Colorado, in search of aspen trees decked out for fall. It was a Saturday and we clearly weren’t the only ones with the same idea. Traffic was really hideous in the little towns at either end of the road over the pass, so next year I think I will try to do this on a Wednesday or Thursday instead. But we did find what we were looking for!

Golden Screen. The sun lights up aspens agains a backdrop of evergreen trees near Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 74mm, 1/500 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

All of these photos were taken pretty close to the road while Susan listened to an audio book in the car, so none of these involved extensive searches for perfect compositions. Even so, it was beautiful out and aspens with golden leaves are always a treat.

Outlier. Clumps of aspens sport fall color near Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 96mm, 1/60 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

We drove the pass from south to north, and the really big groves of aspens were on the northern side. These two pictures, above and below, were on the southern side where the aspens were a little sparser.

Golden Picket. A row of roadside aspens are resplendent in their fall colors near Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 120mm, 1/60 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

The mountains around the top of the pass itself were above the tree line, but the shrubs and grasses had beautiful fall colors of their own. I definitely want to revisit this area next summer in the hopes of finding wildflowers:

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Autumn Above the Trees. The slopes below Square Top Mountain are covered in fall colors, Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 95mm, 1/25 sec, f/9.5, ISO 72.

The large display of aspens at the top of this post and below were on the north side of the pass and tended to be higher up the slopes. I didn’t really find any wider compositions that I was excited about from down near the road—there were too many trees in the way—so using a longer lens to isolate patches of the colorful trees was the order of the day:

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Aspen Tapestry. Aspens in various stages of autumn colors cover a slope near Guanella Pass, Colorado.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 250mm, 1/90 sec, f/9.5, ISO 500.

I still have another half a dozen posts planned about Whidbey Island—lots more to share from there—but I will do at least one more Colorado fall color post in two weeks. I am sorry about interleaving topics this way, but I didn’t want to wait until January to get these fall color posts done.

As always, thank you for visiting!

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4 responses to “Fall Color over Guanella Pass”

    • Thank you, Lucy! It has been fun living here. I haven’t found anywhere on this side of the state that is the equal of Kebler Pass near Crested Butte, but I am still looking!