As the high elevations are already transitioning to Winter conditions, I decided to explore many of the Utah Northern Canyons to see what I could find.Tonight, the most popular mountain pass out of Park City, Guardsman Pass, is closing due to inclement weather. At some point, it will be completely closed for the Winter. It has been enjoyable because the top of the pass is only 20 minutes away, but now was time to find some more locations to enjoy.
Fall Color Isn’t Just Peak Color
A lot of people think the only photograph to make in the Autumn is a single image, with every leaf looking exactly the same, and if any leaves are green or bare, then the photograph is a failure. I find this ridiculous. Autumn doesn’t work that way. It is complicated, nuanced, and subtle. Leaves, even on the same tree, don’t always turn at the same time. Wind will affect when the leaves fall. Some areas can be bare, while others are wind-protected and can last.
But this is a palette of color – not a single tree with a single color leaf. Why limit yourself to that? Many of these images are past peak – when a lot of photographers would just go home. But I find it all beautiful, and more illustrative of what nature is really like. Yellows, oranges, and yes, even those supposedly immature greens, are wonderful. Even those bare trees, what I am often told is the bane of landscape photographer’s existence, are still another beautiful transition that doesn’t have to be excluded.
While Utah is now “Past Peak”, albeit incredibly beautiful, I will be heading home to mountain foliage that hasn’t even turned yet. Black Oaks will be ready in November while many Cottonwoods will hold out until December. Enjoy the landscape for what it is, and don’t lament what it is not. Life, and nature, are too complicated for such a wish for “perfection.”
Canyons To Explore
Many of these photographs were taken in some of the sub-alpine canyons in the area. On the Eastern side of the Wasatch, the rolling terrain reminds me a little of the rangelands of New Mexico, while the canyons have more dry shrubs that somewhat remind me of the chaparral country in California. And they are beautiful right now. The one disappointment is the ongoing drought, which is affecting the entire Western United States. Many of Utah’s reservoirs are nearly empty. Let’s hope a moderate but steady wet season can overpower this La Niña weather pattern and bring some relief this Winter.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the images.
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.