Aspen Turning


The Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountain range is the southernmost subrange of the Rockies; they begin in Southern Colorado and extend south to just below Santa Fe. At the north end of town, on the Sangre’s western slope is Santa Fe Mountain, whose west face is covered with very large Aspen stands.

Native to cold regions with cool summers at altitudes above 5,000 feet, aspens are medium-sized deciduous trees reaching as high as 100′. They generally grow in large colonies derived from a single seedling and spread by means of root suckers whose new stems may appear more than 100 feet from the parent tree. While each individual tree can live for 40 to 150 years, they send up new trunks as the older trunks die off above ground, so their root systems are long-lived, in some cases for thousands of years, which is why aspen stands are considered to be ancient woodlands.

Come the end of September through mid-October, the west face of Santa Fe Mountain lights up as the Aspen leaves turn their beautiful, riotous, yellow. Illuminated by the lower angle of fall sunsets, the light is just magical.

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