There and Back Again, Part 1

September 30, 2014  •  6 Comments

Anita's WorldAnita's World

Last week, as you may have noticed, Visual Notebook and Visual History were missing in action.  The reason was simple - I was out of town, and didn't take the time to place a note or explanation on either blog.  Sorry about that.

Near Cimmaron, CONear Cimmaron, CO


However, I was out of town for a good reason.  Monday, the 22nd of September for those who keep track of such things, I drove up to Montrose, Colorado to see friends and to spend a couple of days doing nothing but photographing the fall foliage around some of the best places in Colorado:  Ouray, Silverton and Telluride.  My host, Jim accompanied me on Tuesday and we spent about 10 hours out shooting, finding the aspens very cooperative above Ouray and around Silverton.  Ouray is often referred to as the Switzerland of the United States. The mountains here tower above the town and it's attractions - tours of mines and autumn colors, the hot springs, the quaint bed and breakfast lodgings and of course the shops and restaurants. 

Driving up the San Juan Skyway (550)  out of Ouray you're treated with splendid views of the town below and as you gain altitude and the town disappears behind, you're then treated with splendid views of Aspens in their golden beauty - and they were at their best this day - nearly glowing with their yellow and red leaves.  Each curve we traveled around resulted in spectacular views - distant waterfalls, sheer rock walls, and the sight of thousands of Aspens at the height of their glory.

Misty Lake, Red MountainMisty Lake, Red Mountain

We stopped innumerable times to photograph.  It was cold, about 34 degrees, but the rewards were worth a bit of discomfort.  We stopped in the old mining town of Silverton to freshen up our coffees and spoke with some off-road motorcyclists for a time.  They pointed us in the right direction to get to Animas Forks, a ghost town about 10 miles away.  We had a few hours to kill before the Durango-Silverton n-gauge train pulled in (one of our photography goals for the day).  

The road to Animas Forks was easily passable by any vehicle for about the first two or three miles.  At that point we passed a faded, bullet-holed sign that said something about going any further not being a great idea for passenger cars.  Fortunately, our 4 Runner was easily up to the task and we continued.  The road did deteriorate severely, and there were a couple of times I thought we might consider turning back, but Jim knowing his vehicle's capabilities simply popped it in four wheel drive.

Animas Forks MineAnimas Forks Mine


Animas Forks, like most towns around here had been a mining town, but now sat empty, with a few houses dotting the hillside.  These houses were actually being worked on to shore up the structures; I guess the idea is to keep it as an attraction for tourists who drive the rocky road up.  The mine, on the other hand, was mostly a wreck, but made for a nice photo with my seldom used Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 wide angle lens.

We stayed here for half an hour grabbing shots of the old mine before taking off to get back to Silverton for the train arrival.  In Silverton we grabbed lunch at the Handlebars grill fortunate to beat the first train's arrival - the restaurant tends to fill up quickly when it drops off the passengers for lunch.  Our plan was to catch the second train's arrival around 1.  It was late, but we waited for it and took some shots as the old coal-driven train slowly pulled in.

Durango-Silverton RailDurango-Silverton Rail


For the remainder of the day we traveled further up highway 560 to Molas Pass.  The San Juan Skyway is one of the most spectacular drives in North America, with the section between Ouray and Silverton called the Million Dollar road.  Photos and words simply don't do it justice - you have to travel it to truly appreciate the breathtaking, neck-breaking, stop here, stop here, stop here scenery that you see.  Especially this time of year. 

Next Monday will be Part 2.



John Strong Arts, the Art in Fine Art Photography
Thanks Cedric. The colors were spectacular in the higher elevations - some of the prettiest I've seen, now we'll see what happens here now that they've started to change.
Cedric Canard(non-registered)
The colour of the foliage is stunning. It's like nature has turned up its vibrancy setting to maximum. Beautiful captures John.
John Strong Arts, the Art in Fine Art Photography
Thanks, Ken. Where the leaves were changing it was spectacular! Some of the lower elevations needed another week (probably doing well now), but my timing couldn't have been better for the Ouray/Silverton area.
Fantastic photos, John. This must have been the perfect time of year in such a gorgeous location.
I had a great time, Monte! I was out at least 10 hours a day, visiting places I'd never been - just a blast.
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