It won’t last long.
Some Steamboat Springs residents are already thinking past fall and bookmarking the Champagne Powder Cam at the top of Storm Peak and dreaming of snow. For those of us still savoring fall, this season is better than ever. Don’t let the warnings of leaf blight or fungus, which dull colors, scare you off. The fall show will still be worth photographing.
There are new trails on Buffalo Pass to hike on to get that postcard-worthy shot of the brilliant orange and gold aspens. And all this early snowfall means more dramatic pictures.
Here are some tips for photographers looking to make the most out of the coming weeks, as well as some ideas for new hikes.
Dunckley Pass remains a classic, jaw-dropping fall drive in our area. But for those who aren’t feeling like making the long trek, there’s a new spot to explore close to home.
Trail crews recently completed several new trails on Buffalo Pass. And you don’t even need to get to the really bumpy part of the road to enjoy them. We asked Hahn’s Peak Ranger District recreation program manager Kent Foster which trails are the best for leaf peepers.
“I’d recommend the new Flash of Gold trail,” Foster said. A full 11 miles in length, getting most of the way to the top of Buffalo Pass, it offers great aspen colors, scenery and views. People can do an out and back and expect to see a lot of bikers also. Shorter loops near Dry Lake parking area – Panorama (1.25 miles) off of the Spring Creek Trail, and the two new loops on the north side of the parking area (1 mile and .8 mile) — Fiddlehead trail — offer great views and some aspen scenery.
The Soda Creek trail remains popular, and Foster knows of hikers who are using the newly-designated BTR trail. Foster cautioned hikers to be on the lookout for mountain bikers coming downhill.
Everyone can take a good picture of a yellow aspen tree. To make a photo stand out, look for a detail that others might be walking over. If it rained or snowed recently, look closely at the aspen leaves covered in dew, and find one basking in the sun.
Use new technology
Hoping to get that epic shot of a moose in a yellow aspen grove? Increase your chances by doing some online scouting.
We get photos sent to the newspaper weekly of the big bull moose in someone’s yard and regularly run them in the paper. I’ve also been successful searching Steamboat photos on Twitter and Instagram to sometimes get reports of where wildlife has been spotted.
It’s not a guarantee the wildlife will still be in the same area, but that next picture of a moose walking around Thunderhead Lodge might help you make the trip and successfully find your own.
Your Facebook friends can also assist. On a dreary day the other day, I saw a post from someone up at Thunderhead that indicated the sun was about to dip below the clouds, which had been over the city all day. So I headed over to the More Barn and saw one of the best sunsets so far this year.
Embrace “bad” weather
There’s no such thing as bad weather for a photographer in the fall. Snow can really add that drama you’re looking for to a fall scene. Some of my favorite photo trips have been hiking up the Uranium mine trail to get a shot of Fish Creek Falls in the snow.