View from Rainbow Curve

Fall in Colorado: Always colorful, one way or another

View from Rainbow Curve
I drove up Trail Ridge Road to my favorite overlook at Rainbow Curve, about a quarter mile past the sign that says “You are now 2 miles above sea level.” Below is the highway I’ve just come up. The golden area is as much the result of a spot of sunlight as the presence of yellow aspen trees. Just to the left of the highway is an area of marshy beaver ponds. The large flat tan area beyond is the meadow or “park” where elk gather this time of year.Tourists come by the hundreds at dusk and park along the road to watch them feed and rut and to listen to their bugling.* The town of Estes Park lies on down the valley on the other side of that lumpy mountain just right of center. (Click photo twice to fully enlarge. You’ll be able to see cars down on the highway.)

Fall in Colorado. My favorite time of year in my favorite place in the world. Everything comes alive in September and October. We’ve survived the heat of summer and the air is sweet, cool, and delicious again. The sky is a deeper blue, the foliage begins to turn. Days are brilliant; nights are crisp.

And with all that comes the urge to get out and drive. To get in the car, aim for the high country, and go. I did that a few days ago — headed out to see some of that why-I-moved-to-Colorado country. But I was too early. The majority of the “color” was still the rust of beetle-kill pine. The scenery was mostly from years of memories. The miles of mountainside, instead of being blotched with dead trees, became seas of verdant blue-green pine. The few groves of yellow-tinged aspen and willow turned to waves of luminescent, shimmering gold. The occasional sprays of brownish sumac were crimson arches.

Memory failed, however, to fill in the elk I’ve seen in past years, the elk that usually dot the meadows all around the town of Estes Park. So in the early afternoon, when the weather turned and the clouds and mist blotted out the peaks, I headed for home, promising myself another visit this coming week, and again the following week, if necessary, to refill my memory bank with up-to-date images.

That was the plan, anyway. Then yesterday something in my car started screaming “fix me ASAP,” so it’s going into the shop Monday. I’m stranded, unless and until it gets fixed — if it gets fixed. With a 17-year-old car, one never knows. But I’m just sick that I could be stuck at home during what is usually the best week of the entire year to be in the mountains. By all indications, it will be THE peak week for foliage.

Meantime, I came across a delightful slideshow on the Denver Post website, showing exactly what I’m missing right now. The fishermen are busy along the Big Thompson near Estes, and so are the elk. Enjoy.

Fishing in Estes Park
Fishing in Estes Park this week. (From the Denver Post)

Photos: Unwinding In Estes Park Colorado | Denver Post Media Center — Denver, Colorado, Photos and Video.

*Elk bugling, the sound of fall in the Rockies.
Click to play: Play audio (OGG format, 25kB)
Or listen to great audio here. It takes a few seconds to load but it’s worth it.

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