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Colorado Outdoors

The last few months were, well, a detour. I stepped a little out of my comfort zone to do some video tutorials for Nisus Writer Pro, a Macintosh word processor. Doing video podcasting was intimidating, but it has been a terrific learning experience. And everyone has been very supportive, especially the folks at Nisus Software.

But spring is here and summer is coming. If you’re like me, you are probably turning our attention outdoors, and maybe planning a trip. Everyone has favorite places, and many of mine are in Colorado. While they are terrific in the winter, the mountains can also be spectacular in the summer. I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photo locations.

Sprage_Lake
Sunrise at Sprague Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park

National Parks


Rocky Mountain National Park Is about one or two hours drive from Denver. It’s possible to drive over 12,000 feet (3600 meters) in the summer on Trail Ridge Road, with commensurate views. (If you’re coming from sea level, it’s probably not a great idea to make that drive the day you arrive.) A less well known drive is one-way up Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center. Fall River Road is a dirt road. My favorite time is in September or October when the trees are turning and the elk come down from the mountains. The elk rut is usually late September. And there are moose on the western side of the park near Granby. Early morning is generally the best photographic experience.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has the largest sand dunes in North America, nestled at the base of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Near Alamosa in the southern part of Colorado, the sand dunes are fairly remote, providing great opportunities for night photography and astronomy. Since the sand dunes are on the western edge of the mountains, evening provides the best photographic experience. Accommodations are in in Alamosa, or camping in the park.

Sand_Dunes
Sand Dunes near sunset, after a storm. Great Sand Dunes National Monument

Mesa Verde National Park, known for the pueblos and cliff dwellings, is just west of Durango. Summer can be quite hot, so be prepared for that. The San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado is a little more remote, but has spectacular mountain views. The Durango-Silverton Railroad is a day trip, round-trip by train from Durango to Silverton through the San Juan Mountains. I haven’t taken the train yet, but I have driven between the two towns. The scenery is spectacular!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is also in the western part of the state, and is a fairly new National Park. The nearest accommodations is in Montrose, but there is camping available in the park. I may have more to say about this park in the near future.

Cityscapes and street photography


Cityscapes are a kind of landscape, uniquely sculpted by man. Denver has its unique charm in terms of cityscapes. Sixteenth Street Mall is a tree lined pedestrian mall. It offers plenty of people watching. The older but remodeled buildings in Denver are in the lower downtown area — LoDo — at the northwest end of the mall. The state capital and Denver County building are at the opposite end of the mall. There are other interesting locations, such a ghost towns scattered throughout the state.

Of course there’s much more, but these are a staring point I hope you get a chance to see some of them.