Scenic USA - Colorado

Capitol Peak

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Capitol Peak - Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area, Colorado

Photo by Jack Brauer
Jack Brauer Mountain Photography

     After a few short months of its arrival, summer in the Colorado mountains seems to quickly fade. And by September low temperatures begin to dip into the 30s. Here in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, a land dominated by some of Colorado's tallest peaks, September marks the beginning of autumn and the return of the area’s splendid foliage. Rivaling America's northeast, Colorado's Elk Mountains put on a spectacular show in the later days of September.
     Capitol Peak is captured here in a blaze of golden aspens, highlighting one of the best fall hikes in the area. This is not a feature found on a main Colorado highway, and a good view of Capitol Peak will require a little bit of a back country ramble.
     For climbers, Capitol Peak is among some of the most difficult ascents of Colorado's 14ers. Just breaking the 14,000 foot mark, its Knife Edge and dramatic near-vertical face draw in peak baggers from all around the country. As you can see here, the mountain also lends itself well to a camera’s viewfinder.
     About a 25 mile drive from Aspen, this wilderness area plays host some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Rockies. If you're not up to a back road adventure or a mountain climb, an autumn drive on the West Elk Loop circles a tamer West Elk Mountain Range. Passing through more of Mother Nature’s eye-popping scenery, the byway is topped off by majestic granite peaks, enormous aspen groves and charming mountain towns. This 200 mile drive has all the right ingredients for an incredible weekend.

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