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Stories from Element 52

Stories from Element 52

Do A Photographer’s Paradise on Last Dollar Road

As our open-air Jeep headed for the turn off to Last Dollar Road, right outside of Telluride, I snuggled under thick wool blankets and breathed in the cool morning mountain air that makes summer in Colorado so amazing. Our family adventure would take us along the former mining route, an unpaved and often bumpy road that winds through valleys up into high mountain passes. Extreme heights always have me a little faint of heart, but I was eager to get going since Last Dollar Road so I could capture photos of some beautiful Colorado vistas to enjoy back home.

We eased our way through the valley of rolling green pastures dotted with cattle and ranches, slowly ascending the uneven, dusty road and crossing gentle mountain streams that intersected our path. Driving Last Dollar Road was like finding a roller coaster I could love – I relished the thrill of the ride by stopping at every drop and turn to capture the views. 

I reminded myself to breathe as we entered the steepest part of the route toward elevations of more than 10,000 feet that offered one incredible view after another of the jagged San Juan Mountains (the day was so clear we could even see across to the mountains in Moab, Utah). As we moved through the switchbacks, some of my favorite photo inspirations were revealed – hillsides and meadows covered in thick, colorful blankets of yellow mule’s ear and purplish-blue lupine alpine wildflowers, all set against a backdrop of Wilson Peak – best known for its iconic, rugged beauty and hiker-friendly trails.   

Throughout the day, we passed through thick canopies of Aspen trees that sprung up on either side of our Jeep. I hopped out to capture the starkness of the crowds of white tree trunks along with photos of towering limbs that reached dramatically toward the blue summer sky. Cool breezes rustled the trees’ tiny leaves and it was magical standing in the grove and feeling so connected to nature.

Although I’m an amateur photographer, I love the contrast of colors and scenes I was able to capture – photos that now hang on my wall are a mix of jagged mountain adrenaline combined with the soft stillness of the Aspens groves.

Images by Mary Kate JeffriesStories from Element 52