maroon bells aspen colorado fall foliage color scenic beauty

Warning: Colorado Color Ahead

Matt Santomarco shows that autumn color isn’t just found in the east.

maroon bells aspen colorado autumn color fall foliage yellow gold photo of the week
The Autumn Bells Photo by Matt Santomarco

SOMETHING TERRIFYING HAPPENED when I took a fall drive out of Grand Junction, CO. I left the desert and climbed my way into the mountains, passing Telluride huddled in its bowl surrounded by massive peaks. Turning south, I meandered through a valley of pine forest.

Then, the entire valley lit up into squint-inducing yellow. It was like being in the heart of a forest fire. Crisp golds reached up the mountainsides, like flames licking at the peaks. I disregarded the road, drifting back and forth like a bowling-ball striking the bumpers in the kiddie lane. Nearby drivers might have thought I was drunk, had they stopped see-sawing their own steering wheels long enough to notice.

The most dangerous part was that no one told me it was coming. No signs reading “Caution: Leaves Approaching.” No “tune radio to 1610AM for aspen alert when flashing.” With New England’s fall foliage hype drowning everything else out, I was seriously unprepared for Colorado’s fall color.

This image is your warning: if you’re traveling through Colorado, you WILL turn a corner into a scene like this. Do NOT jam on your brakes. In the calmest way possible, ease safely off the road (far enough off that other rubber-neckers can get past.) Get out, and wonder just how you’ve never heard of this before.

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About this author:

Eric Warren editor photographer travel writerEric Warren has an unhealthy love of  all types of transportation, and is addicted to long stretches of open road.

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