Fall in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

For a few years, Chase Shipley, his wife Kaci, and I took fall trips down to the San Juans to do photography for a long weekend. This trip was in September of 2013 and was one of the best yet! The weather was hit and miss, but we were treated to an incredible sunrise at Ohio Pass in the West Elk mountains near Crested Butte, CO as well as a great sunset on Owl Creek Pass near Ridgway, CO in the San Juan Mountains. I have written about the beauty of the San Juan mountains in the fall before on my "5 Great Fall Foliage Locations in Colorado" blog but here I'm only focusing on a trip back in 2013. 


Chase and his wife Kaci picked me up in Boulder and we traveled to Gunnison, running into a blizzard on the way there! It had snowed an inch in Gunnison and we settled in to Mario’s to get some food and then we headed off to sleep so we could be up in the morning long before sunrise. (Which let me say that if you’re going to do landscape photography, that means you’re going to have to get up before the sun rises…a lot).


We woke up to clear skies and went up to Ohio Pass, at the spot where everyone takes photos and it was very beautiful. It would have been all time with a dramatic sunrise and better foliage, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. We drove around for most of the day after sunrise, stopping at various places to do investigating…or so I’m told. I was asleep in the back seat of Hotel Escápe. After a delicious lunch in Gunnison, we headed toward Ridgway and Owl Creek Pass.


There is a large clearing near the top of Owl Creek Pass that I suspect is photographed quite often, but nevertheless I decided to set up there and shoot toward Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain. Chase and Kaci joined me a little while later and we were treated a spectacular sunset, with the light hitting the cliffs above and glowing blood red! Afterwards, a trip to Chili’s had us tired and we found a hotel room for the night. Sometimes, sleeping on an actual bed is a huge blessing!

We woke up before sunrise and tried to find a place to shoot photos, but we only had marginal success. We didn’t do enough research on the county roads around Ridgway and we should have taken a different road but we made the most of it!