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San Juan Mountains to Montezuma Canyon

Sunday, October 6, 2013

After another cold night in the San Juan Mountains camped below Whipple Mountain and high above the San Miguel River I was up before the sun and had my camp loaded in the Jeep while it was still dark. When darkness transitioned to light I had a great view of the San Miguel Mountains.

A blanket of color below Dolores Peak in the soft dawn light before sunrise.

Dolores Peak Sunrise

A well-defined Earth Shadow creeps down the sky above Little Cone.

Earth Shadow

The first light of the day strikes the unmistakable Lizard Head Peak.

Lizard Head Sunrise

Early morning light on the iconic Wilson Peak.

Wilson Peak Sunrise

When the sun was up and I was done taking photos I got back in my Jeep and started my journey from the mountains to the desert of southern Utah. I would make a few stops along the way…

An old fence among a grove of colorful aspen trees.


A view through the forest.



Amazing fall colors beyond an old rustic cabin I passed on Last Dollar Road.


Soon I dropped back down along the San Miguel River and followed it up over Lizard Head Pass where I started following the Dolores River further south and west. Shortly before reaching the small town of Rico, I spotted a nice grove of golden aspen trees and hiked among them for a while.

The sun peeks through the trees.





When I reached Rico, I noticed a patch of yellow leaves still surrounded by plenty of green behind the historic Atlantic Cable Head-frame.


I found a few other nice pockets of fall color beyond Rico.

Color Stripe

I also stopped at this small pond that reflected the dead trees bathed in sunlight on the other side nicely.

Reflecting Pond

Before reaching Dolores I spotted this hillside exploding with color.

Color Explosion

When I reached Dolores I stopped following the Dolores River and made my way south to Cortez where I grabbed some lunch and arranged to meet Marty, who had spent the weekend in the San Rafael Swell, at the Hatch Trading Post in a few hours. From Cortez I followed McElmo Canyon into Utah.

Just before crossing the state line into Utah, I made one last stop near the Ismay Trading Post to visit a nice petroglyph panel.

Rock Shelter Panel

Music Panel

We couldn’t have timed our meeting any better since we both pulled up to the Hatch Trading Post at the exact same time. After catching up for a short time we drove into Montezuma Canyon in search of The Ancients.

We stopped at a few rock art panels that Marty had not seen before and I certainly didn’t mind photographing them again.

Four Cranes


Buffalo Panel

Then we hiked to a large panel of pictographs that I’ve been searching for for quite a while. There are a lot of faint handprints, anthropomorphs and other designs found here.

Flute Player

Anthropomorphs & Designs

We also stopped to visit a Great House that I had not been to before. There wasn’t much to see aside from the foundation, but there were potsherds everywhere.

Fine Stripes

I’ve wanted to get back to the Honeycomb Granary for some time and made sure to get there on this trip.

Honeycomb Granary

Honeycomb Detail

Another new petroglyph panel that I had not seen before.

Spider Panel

This small granary was nearby.

Little Granary

We made one last stop at the Three Kiva Pueblo before finding a place to camp for the night. It would be nice to finally be camping in a little warmer weather than I had the previous two nights!

Three Kiva Pueblo

>> Telluride to Montezuma Canyon Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Michael Hubrich
    Michael Hubrich November 1, 2013

    have found your side. It is fantastic. Think you. Wie are back in Germany from a 4 week Southwest tour. It was great like nearly every Year. You can some of my pix. At
    Perhaps we See us in the Southwest one Day.

    Greetings from Germany

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