October 11, 2023

What Fall Aspen Gold Tells Us about Water

Hiker looks a rain gauge in an aspen grove.
This year's Colorado aspen leaf-peeping season was a fine one, and the reason is last winter's snowpack, reports the Colorado Sun.

With enough water and nutrients, deciduous trees can produce more leaves, creating denser foliage that offers even more of a spectacle to enthusiastic leaf peepers in the fall. 

This year, winter precipitation blanketed Colorado in a deep snowpack, which acts as a vital natural reservoir for the state’s water supply. By May, most of Colorado mountains had an average to above-average snowpack compared with historical records from 1991 to 2020, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The summer was cooler overall, and some parts of the state even received record rainfall. The state hasn’t seen many of the windy days, cold temperatures and snowfall in aspen stands that all contribute to falling leaves.

“It’s just shaped up to be a fantastic year to get out and see some of the colors in Colorado, and it’s a good year for trees in general in Colorado,” [said  Dan West of the Colorado State Forest Service].

With the wind coming in, the northern Colorado aspen leaf season is ending, but you can still see them in parts of southern Colorado into New Mexico.

The orange, yellow, and red scrub leaves are peaking down  here, but the Denver-centric media like the Colorado Sun don't mention those!

1 comment:

Darrell said...

There is a hillside NE of Breckenridge covered in aspen, very pretty. Some bored or industrious miner or hippie mountain man living up French Gulch decided to arrange a bunch of large rocks into geometric figures under the aspen--squares, triangle, stars and such, high up on the hillside. I discovered them by accident one day while out on a hike.

Friends and I climbed Mt Elbert long ago, going up the SE ridge from near Twin Lakes. There's a huge aspen grove along the way. Every tree in the area has a jog in its trunk 10 or 15 feet above ground, all in the same direction downhill. I assume it was from a large avalanche or such.

A guy could do worse leaf peeping than driving south from Florissant on Teller 1 Road (turn left at the old Thunderbird bar) and going to Cripple Creek. Plenty of aspen along the way, with a heckuva view of Pikes Peak and rock formations above Evergreen Station.