My August 2013 Photo of the Month is Continental Divides, a photograph made in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
Continental Divides Background
Trail Ridge Road is truly one of the great driving roads in America. It is also the highest U.S. Route in the country, cresting over 12,000 feet elevation. My travels took me to Rocky Mountain National Park.
During the Summer, monsoonal conditions that create thunderstorms throughout the Southwest can provide clouds and precipitation in the Rocky Mountains. During my week in the park, most afternoons brought beautiful clouds and occasional rain.
On this particular evening, I was stuck between shooting at the Rock Cut formation near the top of the ridge or further down the road looking West. Near the Gore Range Overlook, I decided to take my chances West evening though it was pretty dark. What I didn’t realize was that the clouds had a lot of water content. Just as things were getting dark, the sky came alive!
These scenes look great on a screen or in print, but I can say with certainty that no amount of skill in processing can truly duplicate how magical and amazing it is to see the sky burn a deep red. There was a red shadow on everything. The alpine tundra appeared to change color. There were several moments where I was so mesmerized, I was forgetting to make an image. That’s how you know the scene is one you will remember forever.
Continental Divide – Colorado Divides
I call this image Colorado Divides. There are two mountain ranges in the background, and counter-intuitively, both are the Continental Divide. The headwaters of the Colorado River lie between both ranges. The Colorado once was the mightiest river in the West, flowing into a large ranging delta in Mexico. Now it is a mud flat. We use the river many times over. Even in Yuma, where my grandparents live, it doesn’t appear to have as much water as the All American Canal heading to Imperial Valley. The mighty Colorado has been transformed forever, but here in Rocky Mountain National Park, it is one of the few upstream places with some semblance of timelessness.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.