Posted by: kerryl29 | January 23, 2018

Colorado Day 6: Three Passes

As I mentioned in the previous post, I didn’t have much time at Kebler Pass on Day 5, due to vanishing daylight, but I did have the opportunity to seek out a spot that I thought would work for sunrise on the following day.  It was unclear whether the sky conditions would cooperate on the morning of Day 6, but I put myself in position to find out.  This overlook, near an unofficial pull-out on the side of the road, looking west and facing the peaks of East and West Beckwith Mountains, struck me as a good spot to catch first light.  (It turned out to be a somewhat popular spot as a photo workshop, with about 10 participants, showed up not long after I put myself in place.  I hadn’t been aware that I had stumbled across such a highly desirable location.)

East & West Beckwith Mountains at Sunrise, Kebler Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Low-hanging clouds obscured the view of East Beckwith Mountain, but eventually some of those clouds lit up as a crack in the overcast to the east allowed sunlight to penetrate the scene.

East & West Beckwith Mountains at Sunrise, Kebler Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

It was not an epic sunrise experience by any means, but it was still worth the early wake up, I think.

East & West Beckwith Mountains at Sunrise, Kebler Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Conifer Silhouettes at Sunrise, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

When it was clear that things weren’t going to get any better, I backtracked east on the Kebler Pass road until I reached another unpaved thoroughfare, leading to Ohio Pass.  Ohio Pass lies only about a mile from Kebler Pass and I thought I’d be making a mistake not to explore the opportunities there.  That turned out to be correct; it would have been a shame to miss Ohio Pass.

When I reached the high point of the pass down the somewhat-maintained road, I found myself in a snowy high altitude meadow surrounded by a swirling mist.

Snowy Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

There had been rain in the Crested Butte area overnight, but at the top of Ohio Pass the precipitation fell as snow.

Snowy Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

After a mile or so, the Ohio Pass road begins a steady decent.  The snow disappeared fairly quickly along with the drop in altitude, but low-hanging clouds remained.  Nevertheless, the views along the road heading south, for the next mile or two, were breathtaking and I stopped the car frequently to check them out.  This area of the pass was rich with aspen color.

Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Along with the heavy low-hanging cloud cover, there was a fair amount of valley fog that was slowly lifting.

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

The road wound around and down the mountainside and as the views opened to the south the sheer extent of the aspen forest was revealed.

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspens & Conifers, Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspens & Conifers, Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

After another mile or so further along, the road dips into a beautiful aspen forest.  This dichotomy points out one of the best things about the Kebler Pass area (I’m including Ohio Pass as part of the Kebler Pass region, since it’s right there):  there’s a marked interspersing of marvelous views and thick forest, where more intimate images can be made.

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

There were no formal trails in this part of the woods but I did see some paths resembling game trails–deer is plentiful in the Gunnison National Forest–and I utilized some of these to wade into the forest for image-making opportunities.

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

The fern understory, already a rich copper-toned brown, was a major attraction in this part of the aspen forest.

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Briefly emerging from the woods, I came to another open area that produced a wealth of photo opportunities of varying sorts.

Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Back in the car, in a matter of a minute or so I found myself in the forest once again, staring at yet another collection of photo ops, just as the clouds were beginning to burn off.

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Isolates, Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Isolates, Ohio Pass Overlook, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Forest, Ohio Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Following the sunrise shoot I had spent the duration of the morning exploring Ohio Pass and I’m certain I did little more than scratch the surface.

I spent the first half or so of the afternoon making my way west along the Kebler Pass Road.  There are countless photo opportunities along the route; much like the Ohio Pass experience, the road runs through relatively open areas with jaw-dropping scenic views before plunging into the densest aspen forest I’ve ever seen anywhere.

The Dyke, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

The Dyke, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Grove, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Since the skies had cleared considerably by the time I dove into the forest, I simply scouted this area–which I wanted to photograph in even light–but I marked numerous locations on my GPS for future reference.

On the other end of the thick woods–which runs for miles along the Kebler Pass Road–things open up again.  There are still aspens in this part of the region, but they’re much less numerous and there’s far more scrub growth, vaguely resembling tundra.

East & West Beckwith Mountains, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Aspen Afternoon, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

East & West Beckwith Mountains, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

From here, it’s about a 20-minute drive to CO-133 which, when followed to the north, leads the driver to McClure Pass in the White River National Forest.  It’s a long uphill climb of about 30 minutes from the Paonia Reservoir, near the junction of CO-133 and the Kebler Pass Road, to McClure Pass.  The scenery at the pass is impressive, but there aren’t many places to pull off the road and view it.  Still, I managed to find a couple of spots that allowed me to set up and photograph as the sky began to cloud up.

McClure Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado

McClure Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado

As early evening descended, I made my way back down to the Kebler Pass Road and began to retrace my steps in the direction of Crested Butte.  I stopped several times along the way before the sun descended all the way to the horizon.

Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

West Beckwith Mountain, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

West Beckwith Mountain, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

West Beckwith Mountain, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Marcellina Mountain, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

I set up for sunset amidst the undergrowth of a meadow wetland, back on the east side of East Beckwith Mountain, only a couple of miles from the spot from which I had photographed at daybreak.  The low-hanging clouds of the morning were gone, revealing the edifice and peak of East Beckwith.  The sun descended behind a cloud bank on the western horizon, minimizing its ability to produce a memorable sunset.

East Beckwith Mountain, Kebler Pass, Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Despite the relative ho hum nature of both sunrise and sunset the day had been packed with wonderful photographic opportunities.  The following day would, if anything, be even better.

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Responses

  1. Glorious colours and photos 🙂 🙂

  2. Beautiful photos!

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Yet another set of beautiful fall color images. The light in the late day photos in Kebler Pass really enriches the already gorgeous colors.

    • Thanks, Ellen!

  4. Wonderful photo essay, gorgeous landscape compositions!

    • Thanks very much!

  5. […] before I hit the trail head I began the day at the same spot I started Day 6:  the Kebler Pass Overlook.  And this time, there was an actual sunrise.  One of the nice things […]

  6. Kebler Pass is a favorite of many during the fall color season. I would’ve been surprised if you didn’t run into some photo group. That ho-hum sunset photo at the end of your post, I’d take that one any day over a sky on fire. 🙂

    • Well, I’d have liked a bit more going on. ) (Got that on Day 7.)

  7. Beautiful, the fog adds a whole other layer to the landscape

  8. […] western side of Kebler Pass, near the Lost Lake Campground.  I had scouted this area, briefly, on Day 6, when I traversed the entire length of the Pass.  It was becoming increasingly cloudy, and a bit […]

  9. […] of Kebler Pass–an area I’d passed through on the way to and from McClure Pass back on Day 6–but this time I stopped at an unofficial pullout across from an overlook that had a wonderful […]


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