Autumn in South Park Colorado: More than Just Gold in Those Hills

Autumn in South Park Colorado: More than Just Gold in Those Hills

Published On: 10-03-2013 08:18pm

Comments: 14 - Hits: 0

Category: South Park and Colorado

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing about spring here in South Park Colorado. That statement sure sounds like something my mom would say…seems like only yesterday…. Hmm.

Today is the 3 of October and South Park is again the topic of my writing. This time I am writing about fall; fall color to be exact. The “fall color season” is underway. Huge splotches of gold can be seen on the mountainsides around 11,000'. Here at my house at 9300-9500’ we have not yet seen the peak foliage color.

It is the large stands of aspen with brilliant yellow gold leaves that are the iconic Colorado fall scene: Aspen gold and blue sky – I have taken my share of photos with this theme. This year, however, there is red in the display, at least more than is usual. And more green for this late.


Color change in the aspen trees is cued by shorter day length as summer progresses into fall. The yellow and orange pigments are there in the leaf and even play a role in photosynthesis, but they are masked in the summer by the green chlorophyll. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, chlorophyll production (and food production) slows to a stop. The tree will break down the chlorophyll allowing the carotenoids – the oranges and yellows – to show. Red to purplish color is an expression of anthocyanin pigments. The anthocyanins are actually produced in the leaf from sugars that remain there as the leaves begin to separate (on a cellular level) from the tree.

There is always a lot of local speculation about the factors that make for the best fall color show or “gold rush” as it is known here. Generally speaking the trees need good summer moisture (but not too much), cool nights but not freezing temperatures, and dry conditions early in the fall. Colorado’s color season appears to be delayed this year because of the very wet conditions in early to mid September.


Because freezing temperatures are in the forecast for tonight through the weekend I took some photos today. I am afraid that a hard freeze will turn what is green now directly to brown and I want to capture how pretty it is to have all the colors – green, olive, gold, orange, and red – on display this year.

Sophie and I set out this morning down the lane from my home.


Gorgeous grandfather Aspen showing red and gold color.


 A stand of aspen trees illustrates what Colorado's fall "gold rush" is all about.


Summer's fading greens and coppery reds of fall show in these aspen trees.


More color to come (I hope) if frost doesn't turn the leaves brown.


While I don’t really design my Pebbles at my Feet jewelry to follow the seasons, I am certainly inspired by my surroundings. I often use Colorado and South Park color palettes in my natural stone jewelry designs. How neat it was to find these rhyolite beads with shades of summer green and fall aspen yellow in the same stone. These were certainly inspired by what I call the fading summer greens.

A new design from Pebbles at my Feet not yet listed. Rhyolite and copper earrings show "Summer's fading greens".


And this bracelet reveals an entire landscape of autumn color including the red and pink rocks that backdrop the scene in many of my favorite areas. Gemstone charm bracelet featuring jasper, rhyolite, unakite, and agates. 14979


Season-less, but most certainly inspired by Colorado's intensely blue skies and red sandstone and clay earth, I called these earrings (sold) "Blue Sky over Red Earth". 


I hope you are enjoying a fall display near where you live, too. Let me know what you like about this season...and make my leaving a comment.

Reader's Comments

By adorebynat on 10/13/2013 @ 07:21am

Beautiful Fall scenery! I love how colorful leaves are. It's truly a blessing to be able to experience and feel them close up. Thank you for sharing.

By bluemorningexpressions on 10/09/2013 @ 04:24pm

positively gorgeous, Pam - I am watching the stand of aspens right off my porch for changes (we are at 4,900). They have a hint of yellow, but not turning yet. The cottonwoods have suddenly taken a turn for yellow. It might be because of the sudden snow we had, but the maples are brilliant red! Thank you for sharing your beautiful trees. I am headed out with my camera to the river to see what I can see. I just LOVE your gemstone bracelet with the colors of fall.

By PutmanLakeDesigns on 10/04/2013 @ 11:28pm

Love the colors that Mother Nature displays for us during this season. I lived in MA and now am in MI so I still get to see the changing colors in the foliage. It seems that I am seeing more brilliant orange this fall. I've been out with my camera too!

By shymouseecrafts on 10/04/2013 @ 11:12pm

I love the fall colors of the tree leaves. They are so gorgeous and they remind us things do change.

By craftingmemories on 10/04/2013 @ 09:11pm

Beautiful pictures.

By PebblesatmyFeet on 10/04/2013 @ 08:07pm

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I grew up in Pennsylvania and miss the colorful fall there. That's why I wanted to record this season here in Colorado with more red than we often see. another thing I love about fall here - whether normal gold colors or more mixed like now - is the chance to see and experience fall color for a longer time because of the elevation we routinely traverse. We can drive up to a mountain pass and see what's happening at 11,000 feet the first trees to change. Then, here at the house the color gets going, meanwhile down in the "valley" where we shop (7800') the color has barely started and there are more shrubs that add different colors to the scene. It is fabulous, really.

By Wyverndesigns on 10/04/2013 @ 07:59pm

Beautiful foliage. I live in New England and the colors are really ramping up. I have a gorgeous maple tree in my yard that is such a vibrant red, I wish I could bottle it and paint with it. Thanks for sharing leaf peeping season in Colorado.

By craftsofthepast on 10/04/2013 @ 04:56pm

And your seasonal jewelry creations are scrumptious!

By craftsofthepast on 10/04/2013 @ 04:56pm

An eye-filling and heart-warming blog. Thank you for the lovely pictures. It seems Sophie is enjoying the Autumn colors, too ;) anna

By ClaireMDesigns on 10/04/2013 @ 02:09pm

I love fall. It's my favorite time of the year. The colors are beautiful. Your photos are gorgeous...scenery and jewelry. And, an interesting science lesson to boot.

By ShanghaiTai on 10/04/2013 @ 02:13am

Great pictures! I love autumn, but it's always too short. I love your color combination choices as well.

By PebblesatmyFeet on 10/03/2013 @ 10:50pm

"Grandfather" aspen is just a few steps down the road from my driveway, Catherine. It is a magnificent tree. Did you know that aspen stands or groves grow as clones or rather a single organism on a common root system? You can see the trees are related more easily in spring as they will leaf around the same time either earlier or later than surrounding but separate clones. In fall, there are so many factors that contribute to color change, that it is a little harder to see the "family" or distinct clones when there's a large stand.

By ShadowDogDesigns on 10/03/2013 @ 10:39pm

Stunning scenery and stunning jewelry that carries the colors of where you live. Grandfather Aspen is truly a majestic tree - think I would hug him each day if he was nearby (: Thank you for another peek into your world.

By Guest on 10/03/2013 @ 08:59pm

Absolutely beautiful scenery! Thank you for sharing your little part of the world with us. The Rocky Mountains are a sight to behold!

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