The Aspen Collection: Maroon Bells Fall Foliage

I have to tell you about the BEST. Anniversary. Trip. Ever. My hubby hit a home run with this… I’ve had Maroon Bells fall foliage on my photographic bucket list for a while. For this anniversary, he planned a weekend getaway (sans kiddos) for us in Aspen, CO at the peak of the fall foliage. The conventional way to approach a Maroon Bells shoot was to drive out there before sunrise and set up the tripod alongside dozens (or more) photographers. Then wait for the sun to creep up and shoot away.

We found out a couple of days beforehand that, because of the government shutdown (thanks to the budget not getting passed), the National Parks road out to Maroon Bells was CLOSED. Instead of parking 200 yards from the lake, we were going to have to park at the ranger station– 5 miles down the road– and bike or hike up. Then a storm rolled through–  just as we were heading over the Continental Divide!

aspen snowy road fall foliage

The timing of that snow was incredible– the golden aspens peeked through the snow-covered pines as we were driving along. Simply gorgeous. But the bike shop warned us that the icy roads weren’t safe for biking, so we adjusted our plans again, deciding to hike from the ranger station at dawn.

My husband has way more tolerance for discomfort than I do (thank you, U.S. Army), so he was agreeable about leaving at whatever time I wanted. The temperature dropped and the snow kept falling, so we eventually set out for the ranger station the next morning around 6am at 26 degrees F. I had cozy boots, snow pants, water, energy gels, my tripod, camera, and my honey. It was still snowing, so there was still quite a bit of cloud cover, and we were way past sunrise. I was wondering whether we’d be able to see anything once we got to the top!

But as we neared the lake, the snow cleared, and I set up my tripod among only a few photographers… how crazy is it that we were not the only ones who did this? The clouds began to lift… and LOOK! (Cue the angels singing…)

maroon bells fall foliage with snow capped mountain

And here are my Aspens from below:

yellow aspens blue sky

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I am an Air Force veteran and an Army spouse, and we recently relocated to Northern VA. I've been a photographer since 2012, so if some of my work looks like it's in CO or GA ... it is!