Aspen Fall Tapestry
Image code: #c000112
One of the ways aspen trees propagate is by growing new trees out of the roots of older ones, resulting in groups of genetically identical specimens, referred to as clonal colonies. Different trees turn at different times and trees that are genetically similar turn together. This phenomenon creates patches of color where different groups of trees in the grove change at different times. Colors range from bright green through fiery yellow and all the way to deep orange and pink.
Tracking the Lion
Image code: #c000117
A mountain lion (cougar/puma) left these fresh tracks among fallen aspen leaves. For all the years I’ve been photographing in these places, this is the only time I saw a live mountain lion in the wild.
Image code: #c000402
A storm the previous day blew these colorful leaves to the ground. Many have not yet fully turned and those that have were in various stages of decay resulting in a dazzling array of colors, patterns, and textures.
After the Big Show
Image code: #dc000765
Aspen trees in late autumn, about to shed the last of their leaves.
Image code: #dc001143
Bracken ferns line the bottom of a grove of young aspen trees in the peak of autumn color. The curving trunks made me think of a slow sensuous dance.
Image code: #de001383
Aspen trees and dogwood bushes reflecting in a mountain lake.
An Unlikely Convergence
Image code: #de001390
Aspen trees growing against a red sandstone wall. The title refers to the fact that it’s very rare for aspen trees and sandstone to exist in the same place. Aspens generally grow at high elevation, while red sandstone generally is found in the lower, hotter, parts of the desert. This is the only place I know where red sandstone is found high enough so that aspen trees can grow in the same place.
Foam Patterns and Aspen Leaves
Image code: #de001443
Aspen leaves floating among intricate foam patters at the outlet of an alpine lake.
Image code: #de001592
Aspen trees, bare for the winter, atop a high desert plateau. The canyon country below, covered in thick fog, the peaks of desert mountains loom in the distance.
Image code: #de001595
Small grove of aspens looms out of thick fog in winter.
Last Light at Camp
Image code: #de001995
Aspen trees in spring, glowing in the last of the warm sunlight, seen from my campsite.
Sapling in the Clouds
Image code: #de002024
After a good rainy season, this aspen sapling sprouted at the edge of an alpine lake. In time, the water will recede back to its normal levels.
Aspens, Filtered Light
Image code: #de002322
Soft afternoon winter light filters through an old aspen grove.
Image code: #de002324
Aspen boles in winter. Recently-dead trees turn a bright orange before drying up.
A Place of Refuge
Image code: #de002754
A small wind-battered grove of aspen trees next to a remote mountain road lined in blooming locoweed.
Image Code: #de002953
Aspen trees on the shore of a thawing lake. The spaceship-looking ovals are spots where the ice had melted faster thanks to underwater springs.
Image code: #de003193
Testament to their tenacity, these stunted and wind-beaten little aspens grow on a precarious exposed promontory.
Image code: #dh000156
Aspen and dogwood grow among the Sierra Nevada granite boulders.
Image code: #di000376
Yet-to-turn aspen trees mixed with maples in vibrant autumn display.
Image code: #di000603
Dormant aspen trees engulfed in wintry mist.
Image code: #di001086
Aspen grove against a backdrop of the slope of a desert mountain, green with new growth as spring arrives and the last of the snow had melted.
Summer Eve Among the Aspens
Image code: #di001196
Last light of the day, camping in a high-elevation aspen grove. In the summer months, these high groves provide shade and comfortable temperatures while the desert below bakes in the heat.
Early Autumn Storm
Image code: #di001208
In these high sagebrush-covered plains, thunderstorms can be violent, but usually for short periods as storm cells wander around the landscapes. The light during such storms, on the other hand, can be profoundly peaceful and revitalizing.
Image code: #di001259
Gently making its way through a grassy alpine meadow, this creek will eventually become a desert river destined to travel some of the most scenic desert canyons on Earth before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.
Image code: #di001273
Last of the autumn foliage still clings to these young aspens as they prepare for the big sleep.
Image code: #di001358
Bare aspen trees against a backdrop of crimson-colored willows during an early snow storm.
Image code: #di001619
Aspen trees in fog during spring rainstorm.
Image code: #di001667
First snow falling over aspen grove in autumn color.
A Merging of Worlds
Image code: #di001714
Aspen trees reflecting in alpine lake.
Image code: #dl000079
Aspen grove in thick fog during a summer monsoon rainstorm.
Image code: #dn000042
Burned aspen snags lit by the low sun in winter.
Image code: #dn000375
Fallen aspen tree, likely felled by avalanche, supported by its brethren.
Quiet, Frosty Morning
Image code: #dn000479
A cold autumn morning by an alpine beaver pond surrounded by aspen trees.
Image code: #dn000410
Young aspen tree catching the last light of the day.
Image code: #di001952
Bare aspen trees in winter, covered in hoar frost from a passing storm.
Image code: #di001720
Aspen trees in deep winter slumber in a clearing in a thick grove. Soft mist filled the grove as a calm winter storm passed through.
Image code: #dn000902
New foliage on aspen trees and snowberry bushes in dazzling autumn display among the skeletons of trees killed by wildfire years before.
Image code: #di001888
A thick aspen grove reduced to thin, faded lines in winter.
Image code: #dc000275
Red leaf on fresh snow
Autumn is no longer here
Sadness lies ahead
This portfolio is one of a series dedicated to trees that have become personally meaningful to me, by which I mean that they are prominent and welcome parts of my world and life. It is not an exaggeration to say that, being the recluse that I am, I spend considerably more time in the company of these trees than in the company of people (including those I consider as friends).
Aspen trees, growing in clonal colonies (one of which is the oldest living organism on Earth, estimated to be about 80,000 years old) are a staple of the Western mountains. Alas, in recent years these trees have been on the decline due to Sudden Aspen Decline (SAD) due to years-long drought. It is estimated that about 50% of aspens have died, and may soon disappear from much of their range.
Aspen trees morph with the seasons: lime-green in the spring, green in summer, dazzling yellows and reds in autumn, white and bare in winter. They are always a joy to be among, and a very photogenic subject. Some of my favorite campsites, especially in the summer and fall, are in clearings among aspen trees.
To order any of these images as prints, please click on the desired image, then click the circled “i” icon in the lower right corner for the image information. Make a note of the image code, and then visit the Ordering Prints page.