Colorado Photo Ops

Colorado Overview

CO regions

I’ve divided Colorado into seven regions based on access and major highways.

  • FRFront Range
  • FRCentral Rockies N
  • FRCentral Rockies S
  • FRCentral Rockies W
  • FRNorthern Rockies
  • FRSouthern Rockies
  • FRRocky Mountain NP

And yes, I’m ignoring the eastern plains!

Colorado Front Range
crnFrom Ft Collins in the north to Colorado Springs in the south and Denver in the middle, the Front Range has an amazing variety of photo opportunities.
  • Easy day and half-day trips throughout the region.
  • From the 14,000+ altitude of Pike’s Peak to butterflies and orchids on a winter’s day—photo ops are available year long.

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From animals and flowers to red rocks and hot air balloons!

Trumpet flower Denver Botanic Gardem

Highlights:

  • Scenic vistasDenver Zoo
  • Scenic vistasRed Rocks Park | Roxborough State Park
  • butterfliesButterfly Pavilion | Denver Botanic Gardens
  • WildlifeRed Rocks Park | Roxborough State Park
  • Hot Air BallooningChatfield State Park

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From face to face with a giraffe to 14,100 feet!

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Highlights:

  • Scenic vistasCheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Scenic vistasGarden of the Gods | Pikes Peak
  • WaterfallsHelen Hunt Falls
  • WildlifePikes Peak

From rock climbing, wildflowers and wildlife to outstanding vistas!

Indian Paintbrush along the trail at White Ranch Park, Colorado.
Indian Paintbrush along the trail at White Ranch Park, Colorado.

Highlights:

  • FlowersWhite Ranch Park | Golden Gate Canyon SP
  • Scenic vistasBalanced Rock, Mt Herman Rd | Panorama Point, Golden Gate Canyon SP | Pikes Peak, Rampart Range Rd
  • rock climbingEldorado Canyon SP | Golden Gate Canyon SP
  • WildlifeWhite Ranch Park | Golden Gate Canyon SP

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From Blackhawk to Wild Basin-RMNPColorado Scenic BywayNational Forest Byway

Blue Columbine Bud - Yankee Doodle Lake, Rollins Pass, CO.
Columbine – Yankee Doodle Lake, Rollins Pass

Highlights:

  • FlowersMoffat Tunnel-Rollins Pass Rd | Indian Peaks Wilderness | Wild Basin
  • Scenic vistasPawnee Pass | Indian Peaks Wilderness
  • WaterfallsWild Basin | Boulder Falls

Colorado Central Rockies North
crnBordered on the north by I-70, on the west and south by US 24 and on the east by the Front Range region.
  • I-70 west from Denver provides access to multiple day trips, including Mt Evans—Highest paved road in North America.
  • US 285, heading southwest from Denver, provides access to easy day trips to five different passes—all with great vistas!
  • Shrine Pass I-70 exit 190 – Vail Pass Rest Area is a hidden gem passable by most vehicles in decent conditions.

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Combat Wing on the Lariat Loop
Combat Wing, Lariat Loop

Highlights:

  • Colorado Scenic BywayNational Forest BywayGuanella Pass Scenic Byway
  • Hang GlidingCombat wings and hang gliders on the Lariat Loop
  • WildlifeWildlife and bristlecone pines on Mt Evans
  • Snowboarding and Skiing Summer skiers on St Marys Glacier
  • Fall ColorsGuanella Pass
  • Scenic vistasMoon over A-Basin from east side of Loveland Pass

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Reflection in Mohawk Lake, CO
Mohawk Lake

Highlights:

  • Fall ColorsShrine Pass
  • FlowersMohawk Lake | Shrine Pass | Mayflower Gulch | Ute Pass
  • WaterfallsMohawk Lake
  • Scenic vistasEspecially photogenic Mohawk Lake | Ute Pass | Shrine Pass | Mayflower Gulch

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South Park from Georgia Pass
South Park from Georgia Pass

Highlights:

  • Fall ColorsGuanella Pass | Kenosha Pass | Weston Pass
  • FlowersTrain RelicsBoreas Pass
  • WildlifeGeorgia Pass
  • Scenic vistasAll of these passes have terrific vistas!

Colorado Central Rockies SouthcrnBordered on the north by US 24, on the east by I-25 and on the south by US 50. The northwest boundary is an arbitrary line.
  • Access from US 285 to the junction with US 24 enters the region near its midpoint and continues to US 50 at Poncha Springs.
  • I-25 to US 50 in Pueblo and west to Montrose provides access to the entire region. Not an official scenic byway, but it is worthy of consideration.

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Wildflowers on Italian Creek Road
Wildflowers on Italian Creek Road

Highlights:

  • Outstanding scenery in the entire area.
  • FlowersItalian Creek Rd – Texas Creek
  • Scenic vistasCottonwood Pass – Cumberland Pass
  • WaterfallsSpring Creek
  • kayakingFishing AvailableTaylor Canyon-Gold Medal trout waters
  • CampgroundHundred’s of beautiful dispersed camping spots.

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The Castles from Ohio Creek Rd
Fall Colors – Slate River Rd

Highlights:

  • FlowersBilled as “The Wildflower Capital of Colorado”, Crested Butte doesn’t disappoint. Try Cement Creek or the Lake Irwin area.
  • Fall ColorsKebler Pass – Ohio Pass
  • Scenic vistasScenery on the Slate River/Washington Gulch loop is spectacular.

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Skyline Drive near Cañon City, CO
Skyline Drive near Cañon City

Highlights:

  • Scenic vistasSkyline Dr is unique; a must see.
  • WildlifeShelf Road – High Park
  • Historical Site or BuildingsHistorical mining remnantsin Victor on the Phantom Canyon Rd.
  • Fall ColorsEspecially around Cripple Creek.

Colorado Central Rockies West
crnBordered on the north by I-70, on the east by US 24 and on the south by arbitrary lines.
  • Primary access from Denver Metro is I-70.
  • State Highways 82 – 133 – 65 and US 50 provide access to the interior of the region.

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Rattlesnake Canyon from the trail.
Rattlesnake Canyon from the trail.

Highlights:

  • WaterfallsHanging Lake is unique and beautiful – Rifle Falls
  • Fall ColorsGrand Mesa
  • Scenic vistas450 ft tall Independence Monument in the Colorado NM – Natural stone arches in Rattlesnake Canyon
  • FlowersRifle Falls – Grand Mesa

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Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake.
Maroon Bells

Highlights:

  • Fall ColorsAlong the entire route
  • FlowersIndependence Pass – Maroon Bells
  • WaterfallsThe Grottos area along Independence Pass
  • Scenic vistasThe Maroon Bells reflected in Maroon Lake – Ptarmigan Pass

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Fall foliage near Marble, Colorado
Fall foliage near Marble

Highlights:

  • Historical Site or BuildingsThe photogenic Mill on the Crystal River
  • WildlifeBlack Canyon-North Rim – Marble/Crystal Mill
  • FlowersMarble/Crystal Mill
  • Scenic vistasBlack Canyon of the Gunnison from the North Rim overlooks
  • Boat TourBoat tour on the Morrow Point reservoir in the Curecanti NRA

Colorado Northern RockiescrnBordered on the east by RMNP and the Front Range regions and on the south by I-70.
  • Primary access via I-70 to US 40 at the Empire exit or SH 9 north from the Silverthorne exit to join US 40 at Kremmling.
  • Access the Walden area via I-25 to SH 14 in Fort Collins.
  • State Highways 131 – 13 – 139 north from I-70 provide additional access to the interior of the region.

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Deadman Lake on Corona Pass, CO
Deadman Lake on Corona Pass Rd

Highlights:

  • America's BywayColorado Scenic BywayColorado River Headwaters SB
  • Fall ColorsColorado River Headwaters SB
  • FlowersJones Pass Rd – Colorado River Headwaters SB
  • Scenic vistasTrain RelicsCorona Pass Rd

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Fish Creek Falls - Steamboat Springs, CO
Fish Creek Falls – Steamboat Springs

Highlights:

  • FlowersWaterfallFlowers, hot springs and a waterfall within 4 miles of Steamboat Springs.
  • Fall ColorsScenic vistasFantastic fall foliage and the heart stopping scenery of the Devils Causeway along the Flat Tops Scenic Byway.
  • Scenic vistasWildlifeAncient petroglyphs and pictographs, wild horses and the canyon country around Rangely.

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Two Moose near Walden, CO
Moose near Walden – Janice Packard

Highlights:

  • Kayaking/River RaftingVistasKayakers and outstanding scenery along the Cache la Poudre, CO’s only Ntl Wild and Scenic River.
  • WildlifeState Forest SP has some of everything, including the largest moose herd in Colorado.
  • WildlifeWonderful wildlife photo ops abound at Arapaho NWR.

rocky mountain NPcrnTaking a large chunk out of the eastern portion of the Northern region, this is a must see destination.
There is a variety of ways to get to the park from the Denver Metro area—each one with good photo opportunities.
  • I-25 north to US 34 at Loveland.
  • US 36 through Boulder.
  • The Peak to Peak SB to SH 72 and SH 7 through Nederland and Allenspark to Estes Park.
  • Grand Lake Entrance via I-70 to US 40 to US 34.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Longs Peak from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, Colorado.
Longs Peak from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

Highlights:

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RMNP HomeFee Info

Beaver Meadows to Bear Lake

Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain Ntl. Park, CO.
Bear Lake

Highlights:

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RMNP Home Fee Info

Bull Elk in Horseshoe Park in RMNP,CO.
Bull Elk – Horseshoe Park

Highlights:

  • Campground Aspenglen Campground
  • WildlifeWonderful wildlife photo ops in Horseshoe Park.
  • Scenic vistasWaterfallsWildlifeSuperb scenery, Chasm Falls, and wildlife along the Old Fall River Rd.

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RMNP Home Fee Info

Trail Ridge Rd East, Forest Canyon Overlook, RMNP, CO.
Forest Canyon – Trail Ridge Rd East

Highlights:

  • East Trail Ridge:
  • Scenic vistasBeaver Ponds: Reflections of peaks in the ponds.
  • Scenic vistasRock Cut: Rock formations in the foreground with the peaks, lakes and glaciers across Forest Canyon in the background.
  • West Trail Ridge:
  • WildlifeTimber Creek Campground
  • FlowersWaterfallsWildlifeScenic vistasMultiple TH’s leading to outstanding backcountry photo ops.

Read moreTrail Ridge Rd to Grand Lake Ent.

Colorado Southern Rockies
SSouth of US 50 (minus the Canon City area) and west of I-25. Divided into regions according to highway access.
  • SH 149 Silver Thread Scenic Byway from US 50 to US 160 at South Fork. Eastern access to the Alpine Loop.
  • US 550 – the San Juan Skyway – Ouray Area. Western access to the Alpine Loop.
  • SH 145 and the San Juan Skyway – Telluride Area.

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A snowy vista seen from Engineer Pass on the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway.
Snowy vista – Engineer Pass

Highlights:

  • FlowersVistasSummer wildflowers and vistas in American Basin off the Cinnamon Pass Rd.
  • VistasIncredible vistas from Engineer Pass and Oh! Point.
  • VistasFor the adventurous, scenic side roads on the way to Silverton.
  • Historical Mining RemnantsThe entire area is rich in mining history and its remnants.

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SH 62 from Placerville to US 550 to Durango

Colorful aspen on the San Juan Skyway near Ouray,Colorado.
Colorful aspen – San Juan Skyway

Ouray, surrounded on three sides with 13,000 ft peaks, is known for its large natural hot springs, picturesque Victorian architecture and the Ice Park.

Highlights:

  • FlowersVistasSpectacular wildflower displays and scenery in Yankee Boy Basin
  • VistasExceptional views along the Million Dollar Hwy, Ophir Pass Rd, Dallas Divide
  • Fall ColorsFall foliage along Owl Creek Pass Rd, US-550

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SH 145 from Placerville to Durango

Tomboy Ghost Town - Telluride
Tomboy Ghost Town – Telluride


Telluride is a National Historic District located in a box canyon surrounded by towering peaks. Telluride also hosts music, art, film, food, balloon, hang gliding, mushroom, and photography events and festivals.

Highlights:

  • WaterfallsBridal Veil Falls is a must see.
  • FlowersWildflowers in Gold King Basin
  • Fall ColorsFall foliage on Last Dollar, Silver Pick, and Ophir Pass

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Looking into The Narrows of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Highlights:

  • WaterfallsSkiing or sledding on the Dunes. Morning and evening shadows.
  • WaterfallsRanger guided tours of the cliff dwellings.
  • VistasSheer cliffs of the spectacular Black Canyon.
  • WaterfallsVistasWaterfalls, access to the Alpine Loop and fantastic scenery along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.