Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Falling for Colorado

Posted 10/14/2016 by Andrew Seidenstat

Sunset over Lake Dillion in Silverthorne. photo by Andrew Seidenstat

Various locations in Colorado show off fall’s beauty.

In Colorado, there is beautiful scenery that allows people to fully experience fall. Many locations from the mountains to just outside Denver provide very enjoyable environments, including Silverthorne, Mt.Evans, Garden Of The Gods, and Roxborough State Park.

The first location worth mentioning is Silverthorne, specifically the nearby Dillon Reservoir. The reservoir is an hour and a half west of Denver, located off the Silverthorne exit on I-70. The reservoir is five square miles of clear blue water, with a few small islands scattered throughout. During the day, people who own boats can set sail from Dillon Marina to roam around the reservoir. It is surrounded by lots of trees of varying species, most of which turn magnificent colors during the fall. On the west side of the shore, there are two large peaks that the sun sets behind, casting beautiful colors onto the surrounding landscape. For the best view of this, set up camp on roadway US 6 to watch the gorgeous sunset. There are many small trails with great views of the reservoir, with the smallest trail being less than a mile long. The wildlife in the area is quite diverse, starting with small rodents all the way up to deer. There are also area-specific wildflowers such as Alpine Fireweed and Alpine Sunflower, which range from purple to yellow colors. It is worth spending a day or more exploring the area and enjoying the beauty. Dillon Reservoir is free and always open, depending on the weather and location.

The next area gains elevation, with the highest point being 14,265 feet above sea level. Mt. Evans is located off the aptly named Mt. Evans exit on I-70 west. On the 20 minute drive to Squaw Pass Road from the exit off the highway, there are other activities available, such as hiking trails, camping, and picnic sites. There is a wide variety of plant species, from beautiful wildflowers to large aspen trees. At the peak of Mt. Evans, one can enjoy views of downtown Denver and the surrounding area. The mountain has no substantial visual obstructions, as it is above the timber line to the east, so the sunrise is very beautiful to watch. Standing near the peak’s edge as the sun comes up, it becomes very silent, with only the strong gust of wind making a sound. At this height sunrise is visible from below. The sun starts out looking like a small, red orb on the edge of the horizon, and is low enough that you can actually look at the sun with its low intensity red light. As the sun comes up, the wind starts to die down and the temperature slowly rises to greet the sun. The rock faces and cliff start to light up with red and orange colors, showing off the enjoyably asymmetrical rock faces. Sometimes, mountain goats like to roam around the area early in the morning, trying to catch the sunrise as well. During the sunset, There is still a very beautiful display of colors, but instead, the view is obstructed by peaks of other mountains to the west. This leads to a lovely display of color in the sky. Most of the time the road is free and open, weather permitting.

Equally important to mention is Garden Of The Gods. Garden Of The Gods is a large area with many different trails and landmarks, with a total square footage of over two miles. During the fall and winter months, the park’s hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. with the correct equipment and permits, climbing on the towering rock faces is allowed. The rocks are White Lyons sandstone and Red Lyons sandstone, which have been eroded away to form beautiful and staggeringly high rock formations. The park has a remarkable desert feel to it with all the sandstone and desert style plant and animal life. This is the most southern location on this list, as it is located just off I-25 South in Colorado Springs. The park is usually busy during peak times, like on the weekend and during the day, but as it starts to get colder, fewer people show up, giving the feeling of being alone. Even though it can become a little crowded at some points, you can usually walk on a secluded path that may not be easily accessible to others, making it very peaceful. During sunrise, the sun shines on these massive rock structures, creating a remarkable balance between light and dark with a distinct shadow from the curvature of the earth. As the light moves down along the rocks, they look like chocolate melting as it is exposed to the sun. Birds soon take flight, screeching in search of food. As this continues, a strong gust of wind howls through these crevasses created by the rock faces, bellowing at the morning sun. As the day continues, the angry but beautiful roar of nature continues throughout the day welcoming visitors. In the exploration of the park, you can come across the Balanced Rock formation, which is an amazing development. Near the end of the day, the sun will start to set, projecting beautiful colors on the dark red wall of sandstone, giving contrast to the location. Birds then emerge from the trees to make their way back into their nests on the wall. The day turns into night as the wild calls from the crevasse slowly calm themselves into a quiet murmur. The stars finally emerge to show a spectacular light show.

Saving the best for last, Roxborough State Park is a definite location to visit. The park is located west of Sedalia, off of Route 85. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., and the price to go in is only seven dollars per car. The park has a total square footage of 9.3 miles with a total of six trails, all but one spanning 1.3 miles long. The park has a large ridge going through the center of the park which is a long red rock fin formation, similar to the rock formation at the Garden Of The Gods. Roxborough also offers some great wildflowers that look wonderful in the early morning light. Not only are the wildflowers beautiful, but the plant life in general ranges from basic bushes and trees to more desert-style plant life. The green of the plant life contrasts well against the red rock fin going through the park. The sun rises between two different ridges, with the best view near the middle of the park. This causes a beautiful exposure along the fin. During the evening, the sun sets behind the foothills lighting up part of Parker and Castle Pines, illuminating the towns with vibrant red and orange light.

These are just a few locations that are amazing to explore and help people discover the true beauty of our state. Silverthorne, Mt. Evans, Garden Of The Gods, and Roxborough are some fantastic places to fully understand the depth and complexity of what Colorado has to offer. Other locations like Saint Mary’s Glacier and the Paint Mines are just two more places out of hundreds of other locations in Colorado that can be explored.