2011.9.2510-minute drive to the west of Colorado Spring, Garden of the Gods Park is the most popular public park in the region. It is worth spending half a day walking the trails and admire the nature’s magic creation. I had a early morning walk right after sunrise, but for only an hour. There was not enough time to cover the park and capture the dramatic rock formations with my camera.

Garden of the Gods Park, Entrance
Entrance of Garden of the Gods Park
Garden of the Gods Park
Garden of the Gods Park

We had several choices going from Colorado Spring to Aspen. We could take Hwy. 24 to Buena Vista, go north on Hwy. 24 then turn west on Hwy. 82. This is the shortest path that takes only 4 hours. Another option was to take Hwy. 50 to Gunnison, then turn to Hwy. 135 through Crested Butte. It’s one of the most scenic drives in Colorado but will take at least 7 hours to get to Aspen. To keep the option open, we took Hwy. 50 first because we could still go back to Hwy. 24 at Salida.

Two hours later, we sit in a McDonald restaurant at Salida. It’s almost noon time, we decided to take the shorter route. It was a good decision, we stopped countless times for photos on Hwy. 24 and 82. If we had gone to Crested Butte, I am not sure if we could reach Aspen by night.

Salida

As we turned north on Hwy 285, the sunshine was very bright, but when we got closer to Hwy. 82, the sky turned cloudy and it’s almost like raining.

A Road-Side Ranch close to Buena Vista
A road-side ranch 10 minutes after we passed Buena Vista.
Clear Creek Reservoir
Clear Creek Reservoir before we turned to Hwy. 82. It looked like raining over the maintains.
Twin Lakes
Mountain fall colors over Twin Lakes on Hwy. 82.

Hwy. 82 is narrow and winding but the photo opportunities were abundant.

A Creek along Hwy. 82
It was raining a bit when we were at this creek along Hwy. 82
A Farm on Hwy.82
A farm at road-side of Hwy. 82

At 12,095 ft (3,687 m), Independence Pass is the highest place we have been visited, surpassing Cusco in the Andes Mountains. It is also a continental divide. In September, vegetation has all lost its green color.

The Road Leading to the Independence Pass
The road that leads to the Independence Pass
Independence Pass
Independence Pass

Driving for another half an hour, we finally reached Aspen. It’s already 5pm. Aspen is named because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area. These trees decorate the surrounding mountains with bright yellow color in the fall and make them dream settings for landscape photographers. Aspen itself is a lovely small town with exquisite shops and upscale restaurants.

Aspen
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