Exploring Tunnel Drive in Canon City

I finally visited the Royal Gorge this spring for the first time and did some hiking along the Canyon Rim Trail. It was nice way up on the top of the canyon, but what I really want to do is explore the canyon from the bottom! On another failed attempt to do so on mountain bike I discovered a road called Tunnel Road which I was tempted to explore that day but instead opted for the visit to the main park on the canyon rim.

Royal Gorge Passenger Train

Had some stuff to do in Canon City yesterday so I decided to see where Tunnel Drive would take me. At first it didn’t seem very far, I took a wrong turn and wound up at the gate of the public works plant on the upper road. A quick turnaround and right turn back onto Tunnel Drive had me once again headed in the right direction πŸ™‚ I was concerned that the tunnels would be too small to drive my big truck through, or too rough, or too busy… But none of that happened. After a short drive of no more than a mile or two I arrived at a nice little parking lot at the base of a trail called Tunnel Drive Trail… imagine that πŸ™‚

So it turns out that the Tunnel Drive Trail is a nice developed trail head with a restroom

Tunnel Drive Trail at Royal Gorge

providing access to the canyon for families, mountain bikers and hikers. I grabbed my camera backpack and headed up the trail with no idea what I would find. After about a quarter of a mile up a steep concrete path I encountered a series of tunnels and a flat and wide dirt path heading through them and into the canyon high above the ugly brown water of the Arkansas River below. The tunnels were interesting enough for me to do a little research on the history of this trail and I discovered that the tunnels were originally blasted out by convicts as part of a water project. Apparently it was open to auto traffic for a while but now it is for recreation only.

Tunnel Drive Trail at Royal Gorge

The trail now runs about two miles out and back for a total of four miles with mileage markers and numerous benches and picnic tables along the way. There are great views of the Arkansas, canyon walls and the canyon visitor train and tracks snaking their way along the river below. Had I done a little research I would have discovered that this is a nice bike trail and I could have saved myself an hour and a half of walking by just getting my bike out of the back of my truck! If there is a next time I will definitely do this trail on wheels!

My real reason for wanting to get back into the canyon is so that I can do some whitewater rafting photography and I don’t think this trail is going to help me. It is way too far and high above the water for that but from there I did spot some kind of access path along the river bed on the other side. When I get some time I’ll try to figure out how to get on it with my mountain bike, a subject for another blog post!

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What Falls in Your Lap

I guess the message of this post is to focus on what falls in your lap.Β  Woke up early this morning and as usual I opened the curtains on my way to the coffee pot. 16 degrees and socked in with fog… couldn’t see a thing. No matter, I was wretched tired anyway and a cup of coffee and a nap on the couch sounded like a pretty good plan πŸ™‚

Frosty Colorado Forest

Drank my coffee, let Big Dog back in and shut my eyes… that was going to be the end of it. I suppose it was about an hour later and Big Dog was starting to complain so I kind of opened one eye and noticed that the sun was starting to shine through on the distant aspen trees which were magnificently covered with a heavy layer of frost. Now this is a scene I have long wanted to capture but there just isn’t any way to get in position for the shot. But wait I thought… Now I have the 400mm… twice the reach I usedΒ  to have!

So I went back in, grabbed the camera and headed off to try once again to capture the beautiful grove of trees. This time I had a little better luck. 400mm seems like just the trick! Hope ya’ll like the image πŸ™‚ As always it is available as wall art on my website, this one is in the Rocky Mountain Winter gallery.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains Up Close

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time… to go see the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado up close. I can see them from my favorite vantage points on my hiking trails around home, but I have never actually seen them up close. I tried once but the road on which I turned was in a valley and I didn’t really get to see much except foothills.

Arkansas River by S.W. Krull Imaging

I almost went up to Waterton Canyon to look for bighorn sheep today, but I was tired and a six mile hike up the dirt road didn’t seem to be in my best interests, so the Sangres it was! Drove down High Park Drive from Cripple Creek over to Highway 9 and then down to 50 where me and the big dog proceeded west along the Arkansas River. I had to make one stop on one of the many pull outs along the river so Big Dog could stretch his legs. Didn’t get the big camera out there, but I did get a nice shot of the river with my phone camera πŸ™‚

Finally we arrived at Highway 69 where we turned south and it was just a few miles up a

Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range of Colorado

canyonΒ  before the big mountains came into view. I took my first opportunity to pull over and get some shots because the light was good, but rapidly changing. I brought along both of my zoom lenses, the 70-200 and the 100-400 and it turns out they both came in handy. My polarizer only fits on the 70-200 and there were a few times when the sun was bright and from the side where that filter came in handy! Moments of sunlight and longer periods of overcast skies were a challenge today but by the time I got to Westcliffe I was satisfied that I had captured what I came for.

Westcliffe is a quaint little mountain town way out in the boondocks in southern Colorado. It took but a few minutes to cover the entire town in both directions as I looked hopefully for a micro brewery. There were none to be found and my phone didn’t have a signal there so that a search could be performed so I just decided to head on back. There was a BBQ place there that looked intriguing but I wasn’t that hungry yet and there were some antique stores and art galleries and a coffee shop that also caught my eye! Sometime when I can get an earlier start I’ll have to go back and check it out πŸ™‚

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

On the trip back I was keeping a close watch on the hillsides hoping for a deer or elk sighting and just when I thought I was going to be disappointed, I encountered a herd of mule deer right along the side of the road! I snapped a few out the truck window as the herd moved up the mountainside. This bunch was so cute, all of them looking at me, especially the three all perfectly lined up in the middle of the frame! Eventually they had moved far enough away that I was able to get out of the truck without scaring them off and captured a few images while they looked on from this neat looking rocky knoll (below center). Some sunlight would have been nice for these pictures but by this time the sky was pretty well overcast. Oh well, it was still fun to see them.

All in all I collected about 110 images for the day so I have a lot of processing to do! As always, these images and more are available as wall art and gift items on my website. Please check back in often as I will be displaying many more!

Beautiful Herd of Mule Deer

Winter Wonderland

This is what gets me going every day… Sitting there drinking my coffee, warm puppy on my lap, I’m always thinking, not today, today I’m just going to sit here and enjoy this moment. But soon I begin to wonder, what am I missing, what wildlife is on my mountain, what kind of weather am I missing? And off I go and I am almost never disappointed :)Fog Bank in the Colorado Rockies

Such was the case today. It seemed just like a normal partly cloudy morning, no wildlife to be found, perhaps only a day of exercise on the snowshoes was going to be my reward. But then we crested the mountaintop and this amazing winter scene came into view. A beautiful Colorado winter wonderland to behold πŸ™‚ Well worth the effort it took to get myself up the snowy hillside!

As always, this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting.

New Snow

Snow was falling steadily when I finally turned in last night. I knew it was going to be amazing this morning so at first light me and the big dog went out to investigate. With all the fresh powder from the night’s snowstorm the snowshoes came in handy! Big Dog was bounding through the new snow like a puppy, and the receding storm clouds over the Sangre de Cristo range were breath taking πŸ™‚

Fresh Snow on the Sangre de Cristo

And I have to say, this 400mm Canon lens is amazing, the magnification, the exposures, the contrast, all stunning. And for big 400mm glass, this lens is quite easy to carry around. The tension ring is a beautiful piece of engineering, easy to loosen when you want to zoom and easy to tighten when you don’t want the lens extending while walking or running. Plus you can lock your lens in place at any focal length and it won’t creep in or out while you are shooting.

This shot was taken from the top of the ridge where we finally turned around to head back to the trailhead, my favorite picture of the day. One day when I have more time I will go back and process some more of these captures for the stock agencies.

As always this image and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas, and with traditional framing and matting. Cool gift, household and tech items are also available with one of our images! Just click on your favorite picture to see all the product options and pricing!

Unexpected Gift

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

My legs felt like rubber this morning and my eyes didn’t want to open. On my way to get my first cup of coffee I looked out the window and there was nothing but clouds in the direction of the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. So I got my coffee and I sat on the couch, probably as close to comatose as you can get ;( Couple of cups of coffee and a healthy chocolate chip muffin later Big Dog was at the door, looking at me with those huge pleading brown eyes… what are ya gonna do. Grabbed the camera bag and headed for the snowshoe trailhead. Along the way I took a good look at the overlook at the mountains… still nothing. Looked like I was just going to have a nice morning romp in the snow with the big dog.

Eventually we cleared the ridge and the huge peaks of the continental divide came into view.

Mystical Clouds on the Sangre

The clouds and parted somewhat and the scene had evolved into this beautiful wispy, mystical cloudy mountain landscape made for picture taking! So I snapped a few then moved to the north a ways to get a different angle but by then the largest peak was becoming completely obscured again. Just happy now that I was there to capture these images at the right moment when the clouds parted for me to see the Sangre de Cristo Range πŸ™‚

It’s been a while since I have seen any wildlife up there, I have no idea where they went. Maybe in the severe cold we have been having they all decided to move to lower elevations? I’ll get my chance to check out the lower valleys later this week so stay tuned!

Lot of Catching Up

Not much happens in the world of stock photography between Christmas and the new year… But in January the publishers will go back to work and begin their ad campaigns and projects for the new year. So I am spending the time catching up. I still have

Historic Mine in Autumn Aspen

hundreds of photographs from throughout the year that I have not yet processed and uploaded.

I remember this photo shoot well, just as the leaves were reaching peak color in the Cripple Creek area. I did load a few of these into the autumn gallery on my website, but for the most part any images I work on now will be uploaded to my stock agencies where they will be on sale for commercial purposes.