Leaf watchers hit it just right at Powderhorn

Photos by Gretel Daugherty—Although the aspens on top of Grand Mesa had lost most of their leaves, the trees around Old Powderhorn and along the north rim were still a vivid gold and red Sunday. BELOW: Melissa Copeland, of Grand Junction, snaps a photo along the north rim of Grand Mesa on Color Sunday. BOTTOM: Dozens of tiny stars, reflections of the sun, surround fallen aspen leaves along the water’s edge at Mesa Lakes Resort.



The red, orange, gold and green leaves of aspen trees and scrub oak inspired Isabel Klement of Grand Junction to put down the camera Sunday at Powderhorn Ski Resort.

Klement and friend Margaret Bestle came to the ski area, one of a handful of spots along Colorado Highway 65 to offer activities with a view on Color Sunday, to check out the views for the first time in four years for Klement and three for Bestle. Klement said she usually looks at fall colors through the lens of a camera, but this year’s display was so beautiful, she had to take it in with the naked eye.

“It’s gorgeous,” she commented.

Bestle said she worried rain earlier in the week would tear many of the leaves off branches before she could see them via chair lift Sunday at the ski resort. She was “pleasantly surprised” how many leaves were fully intact.

“I’ve seen them this beautiful, but I haven’t seen them this beautiful in a long time,” she said.

Jim Hamlin, a professional photographer with Jim Hamlin Photography, lives between Powderhorn and the town of Mesa. Hamlin said he started taking shots of leaves changing color in the area on Sept. 7 and has been impressed most with this fall’s photogenic qualities over the last two weeks. He said haze may have discouraged some people from viewing the leaves sooner, but he has seen more traffic near Mesa and Powderhorn during the last week of September.

“I think it’s been a really good year for color,” Hamlin said. “Almost 100 percent of leaves are still on trees (at Powderhorn) and there’s a beautiful mix of yellow and green.”

Leaves are a little more sparse on the other side of Grand Mesa and at its highest elevations. Mary Sibley of Cedaredge, supervisor of the Grand Mesa Visitor Center, said the Delta County side of the mesa peaked early this year and had its finest showing a week ago. Sibley said there are still some colorful leaves on trees at lower elevations around Cedaredge, but many trees atop the mesa have lost much of their foliage.

“It was spectacular, more vibrant than I’ve ever seen,” Sibley said.

Sibley said she has visited with tourists from Argentina to Australia at the center this summer and fall. Some visitors from the Front Range have told her they ventured to Grand Mesa for the first time this year to camp and recreate away from the Front Range due to fires there.

“I’ve worked here four years and we’ve had a lot more people than we’ve ever had before (this year),” she said.


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