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rolling solo

Dear readers, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your comments on the giveaway post. You people are fascinating and hilarious and awesome and sweet! These interesting little tidbits you have shared with me (and the rest of the interwebs) have been a true joy to read while I’m on the road. My readers are THE BEST. Thanks for the smiles and laughs and all around fabulousness. If you haven’t entered yet, please do so! Lurkers, I’ve got your back!

So I’m writing from the great Colorado mountain town of Crested Butte. It’s a former mining town, but today the gold in the hills comes in the form of aspens. This is my eighth season shooting the fall colors and it never gets old. In fact, it just gets better because I feel like I know these places, these hillsides, these trees. It’s just me, the road, and Colorado.

and construction

There is a lot of construction going on in that last minute rush to beat the winter storms that are sure to arrive any day. This means a lot of waiting in your car with views of the mountains through the smoky haze of wildfires (from states to our west) and someone’s tailgate in your face.

also a good time to eat the sandwich i packed (iphone)

But most of the drive west is lovely, dotted with brilliantly yellow trees along creeks (cottonwoods) and roadsides (some aspen). And then you drive along the flanks of the tallest mountain in the state and a lump develops in your throat because it is just incredible to behold.

mount elbert and the forebay (iphone)

i never tire of roads like these

Traveling mid-week means a hefty reduction in the typical leaf-peeping traffic and I mostly had the roads to myself. But whenever and wherever I stopped, I almost always encountered other leaf enthusiasts. They were all there to relish the fall colors. These people were incredibly friendly and full of joy, with huge smiles on their faces. Some asked technical questions, others asked for local tips (where to go, what’s good to see), but everyone was super nice. One young couple pulled into an empty trailhead parking lot, jumped out of their car, threw their arms in the air and whooped and hollered. When they left they waved and I waved back. “Have an awesome day!” they shouted as they sped off. Colorado can do that to people.

me and my trusted subie, road trippin’

ah yes, more construction (this one cost me an hour)

Last year was the best display of colors I had seen since I started shooting fall colors here. And 2012… looks like it’s giving 2011 a run for its money. We are on the early side of peak, but peak colors are fast approaching and it’s all just unbelievably glorious. There are big swaths of green and yellow punctuated by a good showing of reds and oranges this year. Some patches are brown or spotted or dull, some patches are bare. It’s a complete mix.

finally arrived to see mount crested butte in the last hour of daylight (iphone)

It’s been my experience that if there is a single yellow tree among thousands of green ones, someone will tell me that the leaves are at peak. Non-photographers see yellow and think: AUTUMN. Nature and landscape photographers tend to give pretty accurate percentages, estimates on when peak will hit, and quality of color in addition to logistical issues (road closures, construction, restricted access) for specific locations. So I spent the first full day on recon, checking out valleys, passes, and trails.


soaking up the warmth of the sun (iphone)

hat, gloves, fleece kind of morning – happy for the sunrise (iphone)

casting shadows (iphone)

So far, the only people I have encountered early in the mornings on the trails have been hunters. Not many, just a handful. I carry my tripod, they carry their rifles. We are both shooting, but not really. Mornings are mostly me, lots of fearless little birds, skittish chipmunks, and signs that summer has closed shop.

greet the day

the cattle keep me company – they are everywhere

But as the sun rises, I trade my fleece hat for a sunhat and the jacket is tied around my waist. Hiking in the sun with all my gear is sweaty work. With the progression of morning into afternoon, I go into opposite mode and seek shade, cherish the cool breezes, and begin feeling both sticky and dusty. I smell awful, but I don’t care because it’s amazing out here.

looking up valley

a nice splash of color in the sideview mirror

the roads lead to awesome

it’s only 70°F, but i feel like i’m melting

I hope you all have a great weekend. If you get a chance to check out the fall colors (anywhere really, but in Colorado especially) it’s worth a gander! Here is a little sampling of what I’ve been seeing.

40 nibbles at “rolling solo”

  1. j3nn says:

    So many beautiful photos! I really like the one with the side mirror, but they are all so pretty. I bet your travels feel very peaceful and refreshing!

  2. Memoria says:


  3. Kristin says:

    Mmmmm…so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  4. debbie says:

    Beautiful pictures. I remember my first impression of the Rockies many years ago was that they reminded me of beautiful gold pyramids! I grew up in NY and the only mountains I had seen were green ones!

  5. Kurt Jacobson says:

    I love your photos. I grew up in Lakewood and travelled the mountains extensively all my life. I lived in Breck,Frisco,Durango and Silverthorn, but now live in Baltimore. I was in Lake City last year for 4 days of photography and fishing and agree with you that it was one of the best years for color. I’ll be in the Colorado mountains next saturday for a week and hope there will be some good color left. Keep up the good work.

  6. Susan says:

    Absolutely stunning, Jen. I love your fall shoots. Such a beautiful part of the country.

  7. Laura says:

    You don’t wear blaze /orange for the hunters?

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I love my Maine fall but I may have to come experience one of yours. :) Beautiful photographs Jen!

  9. Elisha says:

    Very, very nice. The ones on the road trip give cool perspective. There is so much beauty.

  10. Mary says:

    Wow, I don’t need 2b there cause I see it all through your photos! Thanks.

  11. David says:

    Beautiful photos. Reminds me of the vacations our family spent in the area many years ago. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Carole says:

    I sooo wish I was there right now…amazing!!

  13. John says:

    Absolutely stunning. And I had no idea, so thank you for sharing that experience!

  14. Eileen says:

    I’ve been to Crested Butte! So beautiful. I’m jealous of those fall colors too–the only thing we seem to have in CA is yellow ginkgo. :)

  15. Irene from Rollinsville says:

    Gorgeous pictures! Having seen both the fabled East Coast colors, I still think there is a glow to the Colorado fall that is unmatched anywhere. Maybe the light shining through the aspen leaves in contrast to the bluebird skies? Hope you get to avoid most of the wildfire smoke…

  16. Kelly Mulholland says:

    Your photos are beautiful!
    We are not experiencing fall yet here in southern Ontario, Canada. Night temps are low but no frost and the leaves are still summer green.
    It is our retirement dream to road trip the US and see the west. We have been to a little of the Canadian west already. And then there’s the north, oh my, better retire soon!
    Thanks for sharing your lovely scenery.

  17. Richard Clark says:

    The only thing with more color than these beautiful shots is the green on my face from envy. I’m so homesick I could just die.Thanks for the pics.

  18. Ellen says:

    So fun to see you in your happy habitat.

  19. Tanya says:

    Your photos are amazing, Jen! the colors are just gorgeous!

  20. Holly says:

    I want to live in Colorado!

  21. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    The beauty of your surroundings is almost unbearable. I would love to be solo in that space.

  22. Amanda says:

    Living vicariously through you this year, Jen, since I can’t make my fall aspen drive – and what a treat it is!

  23. Kelley says:

    Thank you for sharing. As a northerner now stuck in Florida, I get cranky every year around October from sheer lack of autumn. This helps!

  24. Christi says:

    Oh wow… what amazing colours! Makes me really want to travel to see all of these wonderful atumn colours in person.

  25. Denise Dewire says:

    Ok, makes me want to plan a trip to Co next year! Awesome photos of awesome scenery! Just got back from a week in Grand Tetons & Yellowstone. On our way home stopped in Park City and the colors were beautiful. Love your blog!

  26. Nan says:

    Beautiful Jen! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us poor folks who won’t have a chance to see Colorado beauty this fall. Although, it looks to be a good color fall out here in the midwest. But your images and story temp me to load up the car and hit the highway — west!

  27. JulieT says:

    Jen! Please, please get yourself a big old ugly ORANGE neon jacket. We all worry about you during hunt season. Need to make sure the other “shooters” don’t mistake you for Bambi.

  28. Margie L. says:

    Home is where my heart is…

  29. Anne Harvey, and daughter Suzanne Moore says:

    My daughter sent me your photos from CA. I live in Colo. Sprgs., but have been ill and have not seen the fall colors in the mountains for several years. Absolutely, the most gorgeous sight in the world. Thank you SO much.

  30. Pat R says:

    Fantastic and beautiful!!!

  31. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much! Every fall I resent a little bit that I now live in MN instead of WY and can’t take the short drive to my grandparents in CO to soak in the colors. You’ve given me a little fix and I am grateful!

  32. Jill says:

    This is the time of year I wish I could paint. Lovely photos, Jen!

  33. Kathy Swanson says:

    The photos in this shoot are fantastic Jen, but I dearly love the last one ( the closeup ) of the leaves fading out in the background. It is just gorgeous. It’s good to see your face again too !!!
    PS: I agree with the others, get some orange clothes…………….. :)

  34. Autumn Begins « In the Moment: Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog In the Moment: Michael Frye's Landscape Photography Blog says:

    […] the aspen leaves are turning early this year on the east side (and in Colorado too according to Jennifer Yu). On our way home yesterday we took a quick drive up Rock Creek Canyon, and I can confirm that the […]

  35. Sil says:

    Awesome as always, Jen! Take care and keep taking this incredible photos.

    PS: So great to see your long hair again! ;-)

  36. Ellie says:

    I used to live in the Boulder area and check out your pages when I’m feeling homesick, or am in the mood for interesting recipes. So excited to see one of my favorite places today – the road to Gothic! I never got there in the fall, but boy is it spectacular! Happy shooting.

  37. Rachel Wong says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many trees uniformed with such a pretty yellow like that fourth last picture… most of the time when I go sight-seeing there’s always that one little cluster of green leaves that turn late haha.

  38. Alan says:

    Thanks for the aspen shots above CB. We were up hiking on Ohio Pass Thurs. afternoon and loved the light,leaves, and clouds. Fall can be a magic time here in Gunnison county. We appreciate you taking the time to come on over.

  39. Carole says:

    Just got back from a week in Colorado. I’m from New Jersey, and we have beautiful falls here, but the combination of green, yellow and the bluest sky I’ve ever seen left me awestruck. I already want to go back.

  40. jenyu says:

    Thanks everyone! Really glad you enjoy the fall colors as much as I do :) And it makes me especially happy to bring fall to those of you who can’t get here to experience it xoxo

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