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Old 08-30-2012, 09:28 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,111,186 times
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Some clarifications:

This indeed may be an "early" year for the aspen turning. What triggers the turning of leaves is the shorter days of sunlight as fall approaches. When that occurs, the trees produce less chlorophyll--the green substance that makes the leaves green in summer. As chlorophyll declines, the leaves begin to assume their yellow-orange color. Drought, temperature, and other factors can hasten this process along or retard it a bit, thus the variation in the start of "color season." More importantly, those other conditions can really affect the duration of the color season. In a "good" year, color season can last as long as 3-5 weeks. In a "bad" season, it can last half that. Typically, moisture stress is a season shortener for colors. Of course, a hard frost can simply completely freeze the leaves, simply causing them to turn brown and fall off. A big early snowstorm can knock the turning leaves from the trees, too. My prediction, based on moisture stress, etc. is that the aspen will likely be well past peak by late September, but we'll see. Yes, there can be a lot variation from place-to-place. I was in northern Colorado earlier this week and few aspen had started to turn in most places, but areas I was in around central and southern Colorado already had some changing leaves almost 2 weeks ago.

As an extremely well-experienced 4-wheeler, I really discourage people with no 4WD experience from renting 4WD's and venturing into the backcountry--it's just asking for trouble. By the way, a lot of the big car rental companies have clauses in their rental contracts that hold the renter personally responsible for ANY vehicle damage if the renter takes a 4WD (or any rental vehicle) off of paved or fully maintained gravel roads. Most Jeep rental outfits also have language n their rental contracts that makes the renter sign their life away if they damage the vehicle while 4-wheeling. The renter's regular auto insurance may or may not cover such damage. Caveat emptor.
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Old 08-30-2012, 11:49 AM
 
20,314 posts, read 37,815,914 times
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Here's an armchair jeep tour over Black Bear Pass....


Black Bear Pass Jeep Trail Ultimate Video - YouTube
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:39 PM
 
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That is a nice video, but worthy of a couple of notes. First, the video was obviously shot using a camera with image stabilization. The actual ride over Black Bear is extremely bouncy and rough in a vehicle. This video, because of electronic image stabilization, does not really show that. Second, the video shows the road when it is in reasonably dry and good condition. A friend was over it in the last 2 weeks (he, like me, is a highly experienced 4-wheeler who has 4-wheeled Black Bear many times) and he noted that road was in pretty bad shape in several places. He also got caught in a vicious rainstorm that makes the slide rock on the road even more hazardous. Black Bear is by no means the worst 4WD trail in Colorado (in my opinion, the 4WD trail up to Como Lake near the summit of Mount Blanca wins that award), but Black Bear is no place for inexperienced 4-wheelers--it can be very unforgiving if one makes a mistake.
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Old 08-31-2012, 03:02 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
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Can anyone comment on RMNP or Granby area for how far along the change is?
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:44 PM
 
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Just got back home, was in Albuquerque for Labor Day weekend. The leaves were just starting to change when I left last Friday and it was more noticeable yesterday. And this would be coming out of Dolores heading up Lizard Head Pass.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:03 PM
 
Location: CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbbi98 View Post
. . .
Day 5. Visit Breckenridge and then Mt Evans, then -> Denver

3. I read in late Sept, the last 5 miles to Mt Evans will be closed. . .
FYI, the last 5 miles to Mt Evans closed this morning, if it affects your planning:
Top of Mount Evans closed Tuesday morning

Quote:
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The top part of the highway up Mount Evans is closing for the season at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Colorado Highway 5 provides access to the top of Mount Evans, whose peak is at more than 14,000 feet. The Colorado Department of Transportation closes a five-mile section of the highway from Summit Lake to the peak after Labor Day to meet an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The upper portion typically reopens in late spring.

The lower portion of the highway from Echo Lake to Summit Lake will remain open through October, weather permitting.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:53 PM
 
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Wink Not exactly yet

A couple weeks ago there was some but not much color in the Granby area, nor a great deal more across RMNP on Trail Ridge Road.

There is some color in the vicinity of Estes Park now, with individual trees in various stages of color down to the plains. Still not a great deal of color evident along the Peak to Peak road south of Estes Park, either. So in timing it appears possibly another two weeks until peak color.

So far this does not appear an optimum year for color. Some trees display leafs of a muddy yellow, as if affected by frost or something, although as at lower elevations this seems unlikely. Perhaps just some rain, or the effects of this quite strange weather. Individual trees can be near perfectly beautiful, but the question if entire mountainsides of them will be able to agree on that this year.

In other words, if waiting for a peak period one might never find it, or randomly scattered here and there. A few aspen at lower elevations have already lost most of their leafs, but most are only just beginning to display color. Other regions are surely different.
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Old 09-04-2012, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
4,628 posts, read 9,119,997 times
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Trees on Kenosha Pass, which is usually an excellent viewing spot, have just started turning. Interesting that most of the aspens adjacent to the roadway are that muddy yellow that Idunn mentioned.

There are groups of trees on the higher elevations (around 10,000 feet) of the mountains outside Buena Vista that are already a brilliant yellow.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:26 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
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So weird, I hiked in Deer Creek Canyon a few days ago and even around 6500FT there are some trees almost completely bare that have dumped their leaves. Not going to be a good show this year I don't think
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
1,993 posts, read 4,185,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Still not a great deal of color evident along the Peak to Peak road south of Estes Park, either. So in timing it appears possibly another two weeks until peak color.
I agree that it may be peak color along the Peak to Peak in about 2 weeks -- almost 2 weeks earlier than last year. I saw the first hints of color (and a lot of distressed looking trees) on August 24. I went hiking north of Ward just west of the Peak to Peak on Monday and there were quite a few stands of aspen that are peaking, some with dropped leaves already.
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