I’ve spent nearly 15 years exploring Colorado’s soaring mountain vistas in search of incredible scenes. While you could say that nearly all of Colorado is beckoning to be photographed, these are the areas that I’ve found to have the most potential for creating powerful landscape photography.
My expectations for an area are based on the ability to find shots that have rarely been shot, sharp or snowcapped peaks, intriguing foregrounds and good weather patterns. Some of these locations are off-the-beaten path while other are pretty well known. Either way, I encourage you to visit these areas to see what kind of unique images you can create out of the breathtaking landscape!
Picturesque Barns in Westcliffe
Located in south-central Colorado, the Wet Mountain Valley may be the state's most beautiful and unspoiled mountain valley. Here you can discover rustic old barns, horse ranches, cowboys, homesteads and great hikes to lakes and streams — all set against an impressive mountain backdrop. Summer or winter, the Westcliffe area is the perfect place to shoot western landscape photography.
Mining Roads in Silverton
The Silverton-Ouray area in Southwest Colorado features mountain peaks rising in every direction with waterfalls around almost every corner... if you know where to look! Photographers who want to get off-the-beaten-path can explore the winding old mining roads by 4WD or foot to discover the hidden treasures of the San Juan Mountains.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado is home to the tallest and most awe-inspiring sand dunes in North America. The combination of desert scape in the dawning light, spectacular mountain scenery and meandering flow of the Medano creek bed gives ample opportunities for creating remarkable works of art. I’ve always said that these sand dunes rank as one of my top shooting destinations in the world. Their mysterious and ever changing landscape is sure to inspire any level of photographer.
Highway 12 Near Cuchara
One of my favorite and definitely least photographed parts of Colorado is along and around Highway 12 in the Cuchara and La Veta area. The stunning Spanish peaks dominate the region and the weather patterns here consistently produce impressive skies in the summer. Bonus points: the nearby towns make for great base camps with local art scenes and great food.
Wildflowers in Crested Butte
Crested Butte is known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Striking mountain peaks and rolling hills covered with waist-high wildflowers surround the historic small town of Crested Butte (worthy of a photo in itself). Prepared to be dazzled by Lupines, Glacier Lilies, Indian Paintbrushes, Columbines, Sunflowers, and about fifty other species of flowers.
Aspen Groves in Ridgway and beyond
Winding mountain roads, aspen filled valleys and bursts of orange and gold…. the Telluride-Ridgway-Ouray area is one of the most inspiring places to shoot fall color in Colorado. While this area maybe the most stunning, don't forget to also explore the other parts of the state with epic fall color. Buena vista and Kenosha Pass, Lake City and area around Blanca Peak to name just a few.
I hope this article gives you some inspiration for getting out there and shooting the incredible landscapes in Colorado! As always, I encourage you to do some exploring on your own to find new locations and favorite places — but if you also want some guidance or the company of a couple other passionate photographers, I offer photography workshops in many these locations throughout the year.