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Red Mountain Colors

Fall Colors 2015 | Saturday, September 26, 2015

Crystal Lake Panorama
The Red Mountains reflected in Crystal Lake shortly after sunrise.

As usual, I spent the last weekend in September on my annual fall colors trip to photograph the changing of the seasons in the high country of Colorado. Instead of going away for the whole weekend, this time I just headed out on a day trip to the San Juan Mountains. From reports I had seen online, plus my trip last weekend, it appeared that the Red Mountain Pass area was changing colors nicely at this time, so that’s where I decided to go. Unfortunately, Diane wasn’t feeling well this weekend, so she ended up staying home today.

I left home bright and early on Saturday morning and timed it perfectly so that I was driving past Crystal Lake in Ironton Park shortly after sunrise. There weren’t many people there at this time so I pulled over and walked around the lake for a little while to take a few photos.

Fall colors on the flanks of Hayden Mountain reflected on Crystal Lake.

Crystal Lake Reflection

A closer look at Red Mountain #2 and #3. Look closely and you can see a duck floating on the lake.

Red Mountain

Fall colors reflected.

Fall Reflection

Great color along the highway just above Ironton Park.

Fall Drive

I stopped to check out how the colors around the Yankee Girl were looking.

Yankee Girl Colors

Layers of green and gold.


The Million Dollar Highway looked great this morning.

Million Dollar Highway

After spending a little time photographing the colors around Red Mountain I figured that it would be a good time to hike two quick and easy thirteeners on each side of Hurricane Pass that I’ve had my sights on all summer. I followed the rough road through Corkscrew Gulch and then crossed over Corkscrew Pass into Ross Basin where I drove above the Sunnyside Saddle to start my first short hike to the summit of Hurricane Peak (13,447).

My Jeep parked above the Sunnyside Saddle and below Hurricane Peak.

Hurricane Peak

Following the ridge to the summit.

Hurricane Hike

Nice views from the top. The prominent peak in the middle is Dome Mountain (13,370).

Dome Mountain

View across the ridge to Hanson Peak (13,454).

Hanson Peak

Abrams Mountain (12,801) on the left with Poughkeepsie Gulch to the right. The Grand Mesa is on the horizon in the distance.

Abrams Mountain

After returning to my Jeep I drove back to the Hurricane Pass Road and took the spur that leads into Alaska Basin. I parked at the saddle before dropping down into Alaska Basin and started my hike to the summit of Brown Mountain (13,339) from here. Since I had hiked across part of the Brown Mountain ridge last week to the summit of Abrams Mountain, I was looking forward to getting to the highest point of this long ridge.

My Jeep parked at the pass that drops down into Alaska Basin.


The headwaters of Cement Creek below.

Cement Creek Headwaters

View from the summit of Brown Mountain (also known as Duco, as the benchmark is named) over Gray Copper Gulch and the Red Mountains.

Brown Mountain Summit

Hiking along the ridge on top of Brown Mountain on my way back down. You can see Redcliff and Coxcomb Peak on the horizon to the very right of this photo.

Brown Mountain Ridge

After finishing this short hike I drove back to Silverton along Cement Creek and had a quick lunch in town before driving back over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray. I was thinking about stopping for more photos along the way, but there were a lot more people around in the afternoon so I really didn’t bother to stop much.

Golden aspen and Kendall Mountain near Silverton.

Kendall Mountain

Aspen Tree

Yellow Frame

Fall colors below Abrams Mountain just below Red Mountain Pass.

Abrams Color

A subtle rainbow of colors.

Fall Rainbow

I made one more quick stop at the Yankee Girl before heading back home for the evening.

Yankee Girl

>> Red Mountain Fall Colors Photo Gallery

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