After our nearly two-week, high desert adventure in May, Jane and I set our sights on a shorter, cooler trip to the Colorado Rockies. At the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains, spring wildflowers arrive in late June so we planned this new adventure to coincide with the wildflower bloom in the Rockies. We chose Crested Butte, “the wildflower capital of Colorado”, as our destination and rented a condominium apartment for five nights to serve as our home-base for exploring the high alpine meadows of the Elk Mountains.
Crested Butte, established in 1878, was historically a coal mining town. With the decline in the need for coal, mining operations closed down in the early 1950’s and in the 1960’s Crested Butte re-emerged as a ski destination. During the summer, Crested Butte is a haven for dirt bike enthusiast with dozens of bike trails through the Gunnison National Forest. Of course, we were there for the wildflowers and were not disappointed.
Colorado Highway 135 dead ends at Crested Butte and from Crested Butte there are only dirt roads leading west and north. I had consulted a guide book to Colorado’s best wildflower photography locations around Crested Butte by Andy Cook, a well known Colorado photographer. So, Jane and I traversed all these roads in our quest to locate wildflowers locations mentioned in the guide book. Each day we selected a different track to explore and we discovered the vast aspen forests and scenic backcountry of the Rocky Mountains around Crested Butte. Jane’s favorite was the Ohio Creek Road with its stunning vistas and majestic mountains. My favorite was Gothic Road that yielded vast alpine fields of wildflowers.
In addition to the colorful displays of wildflowers, we also encountered a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, yellow bellied marmots, the ubiquitous golden mantled ground squirrel, a lone sandhill crane, and a fox. Since my selection of camera equipment was based on flower photography, some of the wildlife, particularly birds, was too far away for my shorter focal distance lenses. Nevertheless, some good images were acquired. I will place the photos from this trip in a new gallery titled “Crested Butte, Colorado”.
Jane and I so enjoyed the beauty of these high alpine mountain settings that we are committed to returning to Crested Butte for a future fall foliage photography expedition.