Cottonwood Pass at Night | Colorado Landscape Photographer

One of my favorite areas of Colorado is the Collegiate and West Elk mountain ranges, I spent eight years living in the Gunnison valley and I'll be honest it still feels like home when I visit the valley. Sadly, one of the areas I didn't visit very often was Cottonwood Pass above Taylor Park and Taylor Reservoir. I've been up to the pass several times, but nowhere near as much as I visited Crested Butte. I've had an idea for a photo from Cottonwood Pass for a long time, and over the weekend I finally got to realize that idea. 

While I was shooting the USA Pro Cycling Challenge at Cottonwood Pass a few years ago, I grabbed a quick photo of the racers making the big turn just below the summit of the pass on the Buena Vista side. From the summit, you can look down at this curve and the background is this dramatic and beautiful valley too. The photo I took then is below. 


Ever since I've wanted to take a photo of the stars on a moonless night while a car drives around the curve, leaving beautiful car-streaks and still capturing the stars above. Well, I finally got the chance to do so. 

I arrived at Cottonwood Pass's summit shortly after midnight on a cold, clean and moonless night. I was ill-prepared for how chilly it was and didn't feel like pulling my pants out of my backpack for added warmth. I took a few test photos and then I realized that there wasn't going to be any cars driving up at almost 12:30am! I grabbed my intervalometer and set the exposure for a minute, then jumped in my truck and drove down the pass as my camera captured my driving around the turn. I turned back around and came back up the pass, looked at the photos and I was very pleased with the result. 


After I shot this, I made my way back down to the Denny Creek trailhead to sleep for the night and it wasn't exactly the best sleep I've ever had because I was so cold when I woke up at 5am for sunrise photos.