Clearing Storm over the Maroon Bells

Clearing Storm over the Maroon Bells, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

Clearing Storm over the Maroon Bells, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado

After Colorado suffered through the driest summer in over 100 years, I had low expectations for the fall color season. I wondered if the leaves would simply shrivel up, turn brown and fall off without undergoing their usual spectacular color change. And I certainly expected that the peaks would be drab and free of snow.


Fortunately, the leaves proved more resilient than I expected, and the weather changed radically in mid-September. Storm after storm pummeled the high country, laying down more snow in September than I could recall ever seeing. As part of my annual fall-color pilgrimage, I spent a week exploring the famous Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, near Aspen. I arrived before dawn the morning I shot this photograph, but the skies were gray and no sunrise light could reach the peaks. Then, shortly after sunrise, an intense snow-squall began that dropped two inches of snow in two hours. Abruptly, in late morning, the squall ended and the sun appeared. For a few fleeting minutes, the wind stopped, allowing Maroon Lake to perfectly reflect North Maroon Peak as it emerged slowly from the clouds.