wilderness, mountains, and entertainment in the rocky mountain valhalla of Aspen, CO

landscapes/scenery

Aspen Views From The Top of Ute Rock

Looking down on the City of Aspen, from the top of the Ute Trail.

Looking down on the City of Aspen, from the top of the Ute Trail.

In my previous post, I mentioned the Ute Trail, and I included a link to a video, which helps to give an idea of the hike; but I wanted to share a good still image of the view from the top of Ute Rock (taken on the same day as my previous post). It’s pretty amazing to look out over the whole city of Aspen like this. On the right, you can see the blue roofs of Centennial, and Hunter Creek just to the left of that. On the far left is the Red Butte, where the Rio Grande Trail and Roaring Fork River intersect with Cemetery Lane. And, of course, the beautiful fall colors accent the top of Red Mountain.

Taken 9/28/2008.


Misty Mount Daly

Snowmass Creek valley and Mt. Daly on a fall hike, while visiting Aspen in '07

Snowmass Creek valley and Mt. Daly on a fall hike, while visiting Aspen in '07

I took this photo before I moved out here, when I was interviewing and finalizing housing. This was a nice hike just outside Snowmass Village: starting at the Campground parking lot, I took the easy Ditch Trail, which connected to the East Snowmass Creek Trail in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, then continued along this trail for an hour or so, looking at the back of Snowmass ski area (ridge of Sneaky’s) from across the valley. This was taken the same day as my “Last Fall” post here.

Taken 9/29/2007.


Snow, Horses At Dusk

Horses at Owl Creek chillin' out on a nice spring evening with snow all around.

Horses at Owl Creek chillin' out on a nice spring evening with snow all around.

I encountered near whiteout conditions driving home from Snowmass this evening, and as I passed the barn on Owl Creek Road, I kinda’ wondered if the horses were braving the snow…

I took this shot in the spring, on my way back from skiing (I think), and I really just liked the light as the sun was getting low in the sky; it lit up the mountains across the valley, and even enhanced the fence posts in the foreground. In fact, it almost looks like the horses are looking back into the setting sun… that, or someone had a carrot over there!

Taken 4/12/2008.


Morning Full Moon

Colorful landscape against a clear morning sky and full moon.

Colorful landscape against a clear morning sky and full moon.


This photo was taken toward the end of a long journey, as I was driving from Illinois to Colorado, moving to Aspen. This shot, approaching Glenwood Canyon, was taken on the same day as my earlier “Full Moon Sunrise” photo here on “Aspen Views.”

Taken 10/27/2007.


Oh Deer

The happy couple continues with their lunch as I rumble through.

The happy couple continues with their lunch as I rumble through.

In preparation for my birthday climb of Pyramid this past year, I did some trail running around the area. This shot was taken on Difficult Trail, just outside of town as you head up Independence Pass, after “camping” with a big group of friends (not exactly roughing it) the night before.

Apparently, these deer were hard of hearing, because I could not have been all that quiet! I saw them immediately as I came upon this clearing, and slowed enough that they didn’t bolt, but just kept grazing; so I was able to get a pretty close-up shot.

Taken 6/28/2008.


Total Lunar Eclipse

The shadowed full moon, with Saturn above and Regulus below left.

The shadowed full moon, with Saturn above and Regulus below left.

I was rather sad not to have my camera with me tonight… as there was a very cool crescent moon in close proximity (from our perspective) to the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter… it was particularly striking when seen just above the ridge of Aspen Mountain in the early evening sky (just after 5pm local time).

So, since I wasn’t able to capture that image (but I hope you did!)… I’m sharing a shot from last winter, showing the last total lunar eclipse until Dec. 2010. “During the eclipse, the Moon will be in Leo. Saturn and bright star Regulus are only 3 degrees east and west, respectively, of the Moon.”

Taken 2/20/2008.


View From The Sundeck

The top of Aspen Mtn provides some grand vistas of the surrounding mountains.

The top of Aspen Mtn provides some grand vistas of the surrounding mountains.

This is (part of) the view from the top of Aspen Mountain (Ajax). The Highland Bowl is on the right, and Pyramid Peak is the darker peak in the distance, center of the frame. The restaurant here at the top of Ajax is aptly named The Sundeck.

On my first day of work with SkiCo today, we went up to get the computers there at The Sundeck (and at the adjoining Aspen Mountain Club) ready for opening day on Thursday. Well, the gondola is not running full time yet, and we got “stuck” up there, so I was forced to sit outside and eat lunch with this as my view… Not a bad first day at work!

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a pic of the cloudless, sunny view there today—and I don’t seem to have any good wider-angle shots since I’ve been here—so, this is from a shot taken on my visit out here in Feb 2006.

Taken 2/26/2006.


Steaming Stream

Beautiful snowy morning, sunshine, and steam rising off the water.

Beautiful snowy morning, sunshine, and steam rising off the water.

OK, it’s actually a river—the Roaring Fork River to be precise—but I went for the catchy name! I took this shot from the Rio Grande Bridge, right by the Aspen Art Museum, on a beautiful snowy morning. A typical day here in paradise last year… tons of snow the night before, followed by a beautiful sunny morning! The sun illuminating the steam rising off the water was really quite inspiring and peaceful all at the same time.

Taken 3/3/2008.


Roaring Fork Sunset

Sunset from the Rio Grande Trail, biking home from work my first week in Aspen.

Sunset from the Rio Grande Trail, biking home from work my first week in Aspen.

Sunset over the Roaring Fork River, from the Rio Grande bike path, biking home from work last year after I first moved here.

Taken 11/1/2007.


Top Of The Bowl

Spectacular view from the top of the Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (12,382 ft).

Spectacular view from the top of the Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (12,382 ft).

It really feels more like the top of the world! The first time, it’s because you’re above everything around you, you have an amazing 360 view, and you’ve just completed a grueling climb; which perhaps made you question whether you’d complete it without oxygen or assistance! (Well, that was my experience, as an out-of-shape flatlander still acclimating to the altitude here.)

After doing it a few times, the hike is not as harrowing, and once in shape I was able to make it up in 30 minutes from getting off the lift (*without* taking the snowcat, of course–that’s for those hypocrites who say they’re environmentalists, but take the diesel-belching machine up, because they want to take the easy way out and save 10 minutes of hiking! ask me how I really feel sometime…)

The view is always just as impressive: looking at the Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peak, and other 14ers and high peaks–even though it may not have the same impact as the first time–you still get that “top of the world” exhilaration when you reach the summit, and take a look around as you catch your breath, before heading down the long steep pitches below.

Each time you’re bound to recognize another peak or valley, or catch the lighting or clouds differently from previous times. At least, that’s my experience… And, that’s why you’ll see me on top of the Highland Bowl as often as possible this year!!! (click that link for a cool video)

OH… and the occasion for this longer-than-usual monologue here… I just accepted an IT position with Aspen Ski Co! So, I’m even more psyched for this ski season to begin, because my pass is now covered, and I’ll be working mere steps from the gondola at Aspen Mountain. So, come visit, y’all!

Taken 1/26/2008.


Independent Horse

a horse says hello on Owl Creek Road, on Independence Day.

a horse says hello on Owl Creek Road, on Independence Day.


This guy seemed eager to say hello, as I was driving between Aspen and Snowmass on the 4th of July; so I stopped to take his picture! There are often some very nice views back on Owl Creek Road, driving to/from Snowmass.

Taken 7/4/2008.


Snowmass Sunset

colorful sunset from the deck at Lykins place in Snowmass

colorful sunset from the deck at Lykins place in Snowmass


A great sunset one evening in Snowmass, when I was with my family, who were all visiting for their ski vacation. So much fun watching my niece & nephew skiing for the first time! This shot is looking at the ridge behind/above the Snowmass Center (on the right as you drive up to the ski area).

Taken 2/18/2008.


View From Snowmass Creek

Looking at Snowmass Ski Area, from Snowmass Creek valley

Looking at Snowmass Ski Area, from Snowmass Creek valley

I helped a friend move today, from her place off Snowmass Creek Rd, and this was the view from her front porch! That is Snowmass Ski Area, looking at Sam’s Knob & Campground. So, now her place is available for rent too, and cheaper than where I am now. Hmm… I’m considering it, but it’s 20 minutes out of town. What a great view though!

Taken 11/14/2008.


St. Mary’s And Smuggler Mountain

St. Mary's Church, City Hall, with late spring snow and cloud on Smuggler Mtn.

St. Mary's Church, City Hall, with late spring snow and cloud on Smuggler Mtn.

Continuing the theme with churches and mountains… This late spring snow and cloud hanging on Smuggler Mountain provide a good backdrop for the bell tower and steeple of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, on Main Street in Aspen, and City Hall (at the far right). Smuggler Mountain houses an active mine, former superfund site, as well as one of the most well-traveled hiking paths in town.

Taken 5/14/2008.


Stormy Sopris Glow

Mt. Sopris at sunset during/after a late spring storm

Mt. Sopris at sunset during/after a late spring storm


A late spring storm created a reflective glow on Mt. Sopris at sunset. This photo was taken from Aspen, not far from my place, on the path I take when walking into town, on the hill above the Aspen Art Museum.

Taken 4/24/2008.


Highland Bowl From Ajax

view of Highland Bowl from Aspen Mtn, at Buckhorn cabin

view of Highland Bowl from Aspen Mtn, at Buckhorn cabin

Since I’m chompin’ at the bit for ski season to start, thought I’d post a pic of where I’ll be skiing many days this year! The Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands (across the valley here) provides one of the best inbounds skiing experiences in Colorado. A 30-45 minute hike from the top of the lift-served area leaves you with a choice of numerous long, steep runs.

This shot was taken from Aspen Mtn near the Buckhorn hut, on one of my last ski days last year, when I hiked (skinned) to the top of Aspen Mountain (Ajax) after the lifts had closed. It was really cool having the whole mountain to myself!

Taken 5/4/2008.


Alaska Views Again

near the summit of Steamroller Pass, backpacking in Alaska

near the summit of Steamroller Pass, backpacking in Alaska


Well, when I was going through the Alaska pics, I saw this one too… It’s too cool not to share. This was toward the end of our first day, coming down Steamroller Pass, headed down to Archangel Lakes. The terrain in this view was just otherworldly, and the clouds hanging on the peak made the effect even more striking.

Taken 7/18/2006.


Independence Pass Morning

Black & White pic of sunny peak among clouds, from Independence Pass

Black & White pic of sunny peak among clouds, from Independence Pass

Somewhat thematic “Independence” pic for Election Day today… Had some great lighting, with the sun breaking through onto peaks with clouds all around, so I decided to try a Black & White photo. This was taken while driving up Independence Pass early in the morning, on the way to my Colorado Trail hike and Uncle Bud’s Hut trip (see my other posts from that trip, here on Aspen Views at, “Elbert And Massive” and “Sunset At Uncle Budís“.

Taken 9/21/2008.


Snowmass Capitol Daly

Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks, from the Rio Grande Trail

Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks, from the Rio Grande Trail


A great view of the Snowmass Ski Area and surrounding peaks–Mt. Daly (13,300 ft) at far right, and Capitol Peak (14,130 ft) to its left–as seen from the Rio Grande Trail. I thought of this photo, because it’s similar to the view I had this evening, as I was getting a free horse riding lesson from a new friend!

Taken 5/31/2008.


Fall Sunset Over Ajax

Nice colors with the clouds, and the changing aspen trees on Aspen Mtn.

Nice colors with the clouds, and the changing aspen trees on Aspen Mtn.


Another beautiful Aspen sunset… taken just outside the entrance to my condo building, looking at Aspen Mountain (Ajax).

Taken 9/23/2008.


Old Beer, Flora

A very old rusted out pull-top beer can and flower on Snowmass

A very old rusted out pull-top beer can and flower on Snowmass

Saw this as I was hiking up the Snowmass ski area, along the ridge of Sneaky’s ski run. It was such a beautiful hike, with great views of the Snowmass Creek valley all along the way, but there were discarded beer cans in a few locations along the way; and seeing this really old one near the top, indicated that this has obviously been a popular party spot for quite awhile! I just liked the contrast of the old rusted can with the flowers there.

Taken 8/10/2008.


Yin And Yang With Mountains

Mosaic of yin yang at top of the Rim Trail in Snowmass

Mosaic of yin yang at top of the Rim Trail in Snowmass

This wonderful mosaic—depicting the yin and yang taijitu in the center, and spiraling outward—can be found on top of the beginning section of the Rim Trail, just above Snowmass Village. Appropriately, there was great lighting from sun on the distant peaks to the north, beyond the cloudy skies overhead.

This first part of the Rim Trail provided a good short hike, with a bit of steepness to it, and providing great 360 views, with the option to continue on for the rest of the 6-7 mile loop.

Taken 5/26/2008.


Full Moon Sunrise

Full Moon at Sunrise over the mountains in Frisco, CO

Full Moon at Sunrise over the mountains in Frisco, CO

Full moon at sunrise in Frisco, CO (in Summit County, between Keystone and Copper Mtn).

One year ago today… I arrived in Aspen! One of the highlights of the 1000-mile trip from Illinois was watching the sun rise as I was driving into the mountains. The full moon set against the new snow on that ridge, as the sun was just starting to come up, made it rather surreal (that, or it was the sleep deprivation from driving a U-Haul twenty hours at that point!). I was so happy to be up in the mountains, just a few hours from Aspen. The view looking over Lake Dillon (near Keystone, Breckenridge ski areas) was pretty amazing at that point too.

Taken 10/27/2007.


Route To Highland Bowl

Ridge hike to the top of the Highland Bowl

Ridge hike to the top of the Highland Bowl

I can’t wait for ski season! So, here’s a photo of my favorite place to ski last season…

This is the start of the hike up to the top of the Highland Bowl (12,382 ft), from the top of the lift-served part of Aspen Highlands ski area. The hike up takes ~30-45 minutes (45 my first time, <30 on my last), if you don't take the snowcat (which I never do!).

This particular day featured fantastic skiing in deep powder, with cool but sunny weather, and some low clouds, which created the great lighting effects here.

Taken 1/13/2008.


For a video which gives a good flavor of the Bowl experience, check out Highlands Bowl- Colorado’s premier “mid country terrrain” on Brightcove.tv
Highlands Bowl on Aspen Highlands Mountain is the premier expert destination for expert skiers looking to challenge themselves.