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Colorado is full of amazing scenery no matter where you look. Weaving along the one lane roads through the mountains, I finally made it to Telluride. It’s a cute little community, with a small-town feeling surrounded by gorgeous peaks. The peaks make it a great place to enjoy the snow with the many trails down the mountain side. As this was the off season, there weren’t too many outsiders. I arrived too late to enjoy the mild summer weather, but too early to experience the snow resort it becomes.
I did try my hand at a night capture of the town with a couple photos turning out decent. I just took time waiting for the cars to pass. I also worked on long exposures of the starry sky as the Maryland and D.C. light pollution complicate this task at home.
One thing I did not fully account for either was how cold it was going to be. I knew being in the Colorado mountains in October would be chilly, but I didn’t expect this cold. With only a couple places along the main road, deciding on where to eat wasn’t hard. Obannon’s had great food, a warm atmosphere and cold beer. My favorite beer is brewed at Left hand brewing in Longmont, so while it’s hard to find at home its on tap throughout Colorado; I made full use of it. I would’ve loved to stay in Telluride for a month, but ultimately, I had a schedule to try and follow if I was going to see everything on this trip.
At the recommendation of my friend in Utah, I wanted to make it to Zion National Park. When I planned the route, I realized it just wasn’t going to work with my plan and time constraint. I set my sights on Arches national park instead. I headed back out of the mountains, through Placerville and north towards Utah. The green forested and snow-capped mountains gave way to a more barren and desert looking landscape as I approached.
Without knowing anyone in the area, I had no easy sleeping arrangement. I could’ve slept in the car but I decided to splurge on a room the one evening. With a fresh bed right in front of me, I ignored sleep, plugged in my battery chargers and downloaded the SD cards onto the hard drive. I had taken almost 3000 pictures so far, nothing compared to the total of the trip. After a couple hours sleep, I headed towards Arches for the sunrise that morning.
I arrived and was able to again try night long exposures while overlooking Moab, and of the stone formations in the early light. North window was the perfect spot to photograph the sunrise, along with several other guys who thought the same thing. With no more room on the high rock outcropping facing west, fate had led me to one facing east for this sunrise. As I laid on the rock with the camera pointed towards the light, I waited for the sun to break over the horizon. My only thought was how I should’ve brought gloves.
The sunrise was perfect, the view right as it reached over the rocks was amazing with the sunburst. I even had a great spot to turn around and see the sun paint the windows red with light. Moving around on the east side provided amazing views through the North window. From the west side the full moon set behind the colorful rock formations in the distance.
To the north is the parade of elephants and the huge Double arch. The size is quantifiable at over 100 feet tall but to see it in person it’s larger than life. I was able to climb up inside of it to the bottom of the smaller arch. The views to the south of North and South windows behind the parking lot and east through the smaller arch are incredible, again something I definitely recommend experiencing in person.
I spent several hours driving around Arches national park, running along the trails as I tried to see it all. I made my way up the trail to see Delicate arch, over to Balanced rock and went to see Three gossips as well as all the beautiful landscape in between. The most memorable part was early in the morning at Panorama point as I photographed the colorful sands of the desert.
I even met an inspirational young Aussie couple who had moved to Vancouver, but were spending several months traveling across the American Midwest living out of a van. Everything they had fit in that van, everything they needed fit in that van, everything they wanted was outside the van with the experience along their journey. I think everyone can take a little inspiration from them.
I saw a lot throughout arches and could spend a week just in the park exploring not to mention the surrounding area of Moab and Canyonlands national park. But alas I had set myself back even further along my plans and headed north to catch Route 70 towards Colorado. Even along the road north, there was such a diverse and changing landscape to see. Once in Colorado the desert plains fade away and past Grand Junction the mountains ascend again. I was headed to see friends in Breckenridge.
In the time since I had passed through the mountains heading west, it had snowed. This provided a covering blanket across the tops of the peaks and fresh powder down the mountains. The journey east had a renewed landscape within this short time. What had been a fall scene with yellow leaves was now a winter sight. The route is dotted with ski resorts amongst the glorious mountain ranges. Green forests offset by the white trails weaving down to the lodge.
Breckenridge is a small town south of Silverthorne that becomes a sprawling ski resort during the winter, but becomes a quiet home for locals during the off-season. Just south of Breckenridge are mountain lakes that offer picturesque views with waterfalls as well. Unfortunately, due to the recent weather the road back to the lakes was closed and I had not foreseen any extent of hiking along this trip, especially alone. Along the way back I came across a lake along the roadside that provided comparing views with cabins across the water and a mountain range set behind it.
Though large in area, Breckenridge maintains a small town feeling in the off season with shops lining the main street and locals out enjoying the peace. There is even a restaurant on a dredge floating on a pond right off main street.
After relaxing in town a bit, I was on the hunt for gifts to bring home to my younger siblings. My search became expansive and had me talking to a couple local guys about beer and Colorado brewing. I also happened upon a lovely conversation about my trip with the local ladies at a gift shop. I had made plans to stay with a high school friend once he returned but he got stuck in Silverthorne. Once again fate was on my side as one of the local gal’s form the shop generously offered me a place to stay after learning of my predicament.
I spent the evening in a parking lot once again trying to capture the harmonious night sky with the stars overlooking the mountains and a full moon rising in the east. I think I spent most of this night wishing I had brought extra layers and gloves to keep myself warm. Once back at Ollie’s Pub for a warm meal, I again found friendly locals who were more than willing to share conversation with a stranger from out of town. I capped the night after a couple hours as I had a plane to catch in the morning.
With a few hours of sleep, I arose long before the sun to travel back east to Denver in the early morning hours. Traffic around the city proved to delay my plans once again, but fate once more remained on my side. This is the only time I can remember my experience of getting through security and catching my plane actually going 100 percent smoothly. I sat back and relaxed as the plane took me home.
As I left Telluride, Breckenridge and the rest of Colorado and the mountains behind me, I was glad that I had taken the last-minute trip. I savored the views I had seen and experiences along the way. In the end, I drove over 900 miles, slept for a mere 7 hours, taken over 10 thousand photos, and made memories of a lifetime. All in less than 48 hours in Colorado and Utah, a true Prime Adventure.
Frank is an avid adventurer, a drone pilot, and a graphic creator. Be sure to check out his adventures on Instagram @thefrankview!