Photo Blog: Dreaming Of The Maroon Bells In Summer - 4/14/18

It is 21 degrees and snowing in Winter Park, Colorado, and I'm already dreaming of warmer days and summer hikes. One of my favorite places in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, especially the walk from Maroon Lake to Crater Lake. The easy 2.2 mile trail (one way) provides stunning scenery and beautiful vistas, and leads from one beautiful lake to another. I should note here I've never made this hike during the day. All my visits have started before sunrise or in the late evening. I chose these times because the light is better for photography, and I like to avoid the crowds.

I usually find myself at Maroon Lake early - like when it is still dark - and photograph the light is it slowly spreads across the valley and illuminates the famous and iconic summits of Maroon and North Maroon Peaks.

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Maroon Bells Morning Moonset 1

From one of my favorite places and times in Colorado, this is Maroon Lake just before sunrise. In the distance, the majestic Maroon Peaks - Maroon and North Maroon, both 14,000’ peaks - rise in the distance. The nearly full moon falls as daylight begins to light up this serene and iconic Rocky Mountain landscape. Soon, tourists will fill the shorelines of this lake, but for now, all is quiet and peaceful.

From there, I'll make my way up the gentle uphill path, stopping to shoot wildflowers, especially Columbine and paintbrush, along the way, as well as capturing the stunning light as it shines through dense and green aspen forests.

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Maroon Bells Columbine at Sunrise 1

I was chasing the light this morning in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. With the sun shining on the rocky peaks of the Bells, two of Colorado’s 14ers, I found this little patch of Columbine to use as a foreground. These Colorado wildflowers are the state official flower and bloom in June and July each summer. Their blue and white petals are delicate and add a splash of color to these mountain landscapes.

These tall trees are pristine in this area, and you'll find yourself immersed in the best of Colorado as the leaves sway gently in the morning breeze.

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Trail through Aspen at the Maroon Bells 1

After walking to Crater Lake in the Maroon Bells Wilderness for sunrise, I had to pause here on the return trip to photograph the brilliant sunlight streaming through the summer Aspen trees. Just a bit further was Maroon Lake. Behind me, the iconic Maroon Bells.

Further up the trail, the rocky path leads onward to Crater Lake. Just before reaching the lake, more Columbine often line the trail and rocky slopes, making for a stunning entrance into the water's edge.

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Columbine Sunrise at the Maroon Bells 1

On a beautiful summer morning at the Maroon Bells Wilderness, columbine sit quietly as the sun begins to rise of the aspen-filled ridge. This Colorado landscape was taken near Crater Lake, a short 2 mile walk from Maroon Lake. In July and August, columbine often fill these rocky slopes and bring color to the forest and trails.

From Crater Lake's shore on a still morning, refections of the iconic 14ers summit can be seen in the shimmering and cold water.

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Maroon Bells Wildflowers from Crater Lake Summer Evening 1

Along the trail leading to Crater Lake in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, golden wildflowers bloom under an evening sky. This trail starts at Maroon Lake and wanders a few miles to Crater Lake, which is perched under the magnificent Maroon Bells, two of Colorado 14,000' mountains residing the Elk Mountains.

After time spent here, the trails surrounding the lake are great for exploring. One path leads up to Maroon Pass and over the mountains to Crested Butte. I'll usually start back as the sun is shimmering over the ridge, often stopping to photograph the aspen again while keeping a lookout for local moose that roam the area.

So on this icy morning in the Fraser Valley, I find myself drifting back to one of my favorite areas where sunshine and wildflowers are abundant and aspen leaves dance in the breeze in the shadow of the Maroon Bells.

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Columbine near Crater Lake 1

Columbine enjoy the morning light near Crater Lake. After photographing the Maroon Bells at sunrise, I made my way along the 2.3 mile trail to this beautiful area. The state wildflower of Colorado, these blue blooms lined the path and spread out up on the rocky slopes. I didn’t see another soul after leaving lower Maroon Lake, and it was a nice way to spend a morning.