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Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

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Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby derekw » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:28 am

So we'll be around Telluride area for a day or two. Plan on doing some hiking and visiting the city.

Wondering if anyone is aware of any good sunset/sunrise locations in the San Juans near this area... just want some stunning mountain vistas. Thanks.

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Re: Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby Mark Curtis » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:42 am

Wow, you want to talk about an open ended question!!! One can set up practically anywhere in the Telluride area and manage a stunning mountain vista!

Particularly ideal sunrise or sunset shots might be a matter more specific to the locals, but in either case (depending on whether you prefer an actual sunhit on the peak or illuminating the clouds above) I have had good luck taking shots of Wilson Peak (the symmetrical and picturesque 14er from the Coors Light commercials) and company from near the airport on Last Dollar Road, Woods Lake Road (various stops along the way), and along the way up Lizard Head Pass. Those are easy to access and fast ways to take shots of the San Miguels. There are also great vantage points from various other 4 wheel drive roads such as Imogene Pass, Ophir Pass, and the famed Black Bear Pass (not for the faint of heart) to name just a few.

But there is so much, much more. You would need countless days to visit all the places you can hike to and get great shots of the area.....for sunrise/sunsets etc. If you are most adventurous, the Navajo Lake Trail brings you to an absolutely stunning basin ringed by the highest peaks in the area. Not sure about trailhead access, but Silver Pick Basin was always the standard for access from the north......but the road is very rough and tends to eat tires. You can also hike into the Lizard Head Wilderness and see that spectacular primordial peak (viewable from highway 145)......access another basin to the east of Wilson Peak. Finally, if you don't mind the scree and talus from hell......there is the incredibly rugged but unbelievably scenic Kilpacker Basin (replete with awesome falls enroute!). Access is off the same road as you would take to get to Navajo Lake (Dunton road) and is sure to take your breath away for more reasons than the altitude!

Finally, if you are going to be in that area.....the Sneffels Range to the north is also equally stunning. Yankee Boy Basin is a prime destination for up close mountain vistas! Or follow the Colorado Trail in either direction from Molas Pass......you cannot miss! Even the drive along the Million Dollar Highway all the way to Durango will offer unparalleled views from the relative easy access of a major US highway. Or 4 wheel drive over Cinnamon or Engineer Passes to Lake City. Incredible opportunities. Unless the weather is complete socked in, you will get loads of pictures. One thing that is somewhat unfortunate is your timing. Most of the wildflowers are getting past peak (except for some areas way up high), much of the snow has melted from the peaks, and it's not yet time for fall colors. If you really want to experience the BEST this area has to offer....make it a point to come back in early to mid July (for a riot of flowers).....or in late September to first week in October (for some of the best aspen viewing in the state). My sense is that after you visit in August, you will want to come back! I've been there countless times and I am always looking for an excuse. Gerry Roach is right when he called it is the most astonishing mountain place. If you climb to a high point, you will see vistas of peak after peak......literally as far as the eye can see. The average elevation in this corner of Colorado is 10,000 feet.....including the valleys. I would say good luck finding a great sunrise/sunset location......but that would be comical and redundant.

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Re: Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby derekw » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:57 am

Awesome reply!

That's what I was looking for. I do plan on coming back in very late Sept/early Oct. In fact, we'll probably do scouting/hiking for this. My nikon D800E will be along with me though, trying to make the most of this early August visit.

We do plan on getting out to blue lakes, then to Telluride. (and hopefully camping in city park, but, we'll see if it's full)

What I might try to do is some night sky shooting. Do you have a good recommend for a very short hike to a lake or something with nice scenery in front of a mountain... something we'd hike back out from in darkness. (so really short is fine, was thinking of even shooting the night sky from last dollar road)

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Re: Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby rockchalker » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:17 am

Having just been to Telluride, I agree that Blue Lakes, not to be confused with Blue Lake, is an awesome hike with great photographic opportunites. Very good chance of getting some good close up of bears as well. Make sure to a least make it up to the second of the three lakes as the views are wonderful.
"Richness is defined not by who has the most but by who needs the least."

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Re: Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby Mark Curtis » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:33 am

derekw wrote:


What I might try to do is some night sky shooting. Do you have a good recommend for a very short hike to a lake or something with nice scenery in front of a mountain... something we'd hike back out from in darkness. (so really short is fine, was thinking of even shooting the night sky from last dollar road)


Ha ha......yes! It just occurred to me. Trout Lake. It is right off highway 145 south of Telluride as you go toward Lizard Head Pass. Just before you get to the pass you will see it on your left (east). You can't miss it......it takes your breath away. To the east above the lake are very rugged (high) 13ers.....they sit between Trout Lake and one of my favorite places on the planet (Ice Lake Basin). It would seem to be the perfect place for your idea since there is easy access right off the highway.

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Re: Suggestions for San Juans photography in early August

Postby mr14ner » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:11 pm

Just a heads-up about Trout Lake, drove by on July 11 and the water level was really low, less than 25% full. An alternative might be Alta Lakes, which are actually a little closer to T-ride.

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