Boulder Fall Color Fades To White

Here on the front range of the Colorado Rockies the mountain peaks tower as much as 9,000ft/2743.2m above the Great Plains. The higher you climb the colder it gets. This temperature change, called the lapse rate, is 6.5 degrees Celsius per 1000 meters or 3.57 degrees Fahrenheit per 1000 feet. This represents a 32F/18C temperature gradient from peak to prairie. It is for this reason that the autumn hues start their descent from the high country tundra in early September and work their way down to the prairie by late October. Boulder Colorado is on the boundary (ecotone) between the mountains and the prairie and is located at the base of the foothills. This temperature gradient conveniently provides Boulderites with lots of time to savor the fall color season (and the spring flowers to come).

Our first major snowstorm arrived yesterday so I used this week to take some photos before and after the snowfall. The storm eventually left 10in/25.40cm of snow. The last of fall color, descended from the high country, has completed its journey and is now fading to white.


Fall Color On The Prairie Before the Storm


Snow Blankets the Prairie

Boulder’s iconic First Flatiron before…

Flatiron Color Captured 23 October 2011 Noon @ 39°59'40.74"N 105°17'14.46"W


Frosted Flatiron

One of my favorite Boulder fall hangouts is the South Mesa Trail. Mandy and I went there to capture the last hues before the snow quenches the color…

Mandy Takes a Colorful Break

The landscape changed the next day…

Mandy Chills Out

South Mesa offers great fall vistas…

Captured 19 Oct 2011 10:15am @ 39°56'25.45"N 105°15'36.88"W

The sumac (Rhus coriaria) was at its peak…

The Fall Sumac are Brilliant

South Mesa Sumac Vista

Today many of the brilliant leaves have fallen onto the snow…

Many of the Sumac Leaves Have Fallen

Even the remaining sumac seeds (drupes) are beautiful…

The Sumac's Fruit (Drupe)

Still many leaves remain forming the foreground for Devil’s Thumb and Boulder’s southern peaks…

Frosty Fall Wonderland

Soon the South Mesa sumac will be bare, its red hues fading to winter brown and white…

South Mesa Wintermoon Vista Captured 23 Feb 2010 9:07 am

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3 Responses to “Boulder Fall Color Fades To White”

  1. Anne Says:

    Love this set of photos, Rich!

  2. Boulder’s Bloomin’ « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] warm spell the trails and gardens of Boulder are starting to bloom and I’m ready for the return of color and the proliferation of life to come. Here are some views of the first hours of this glorious […]

  3. Sizzling Sumac on the Homestead « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] to return to the South Mesa Trailhead to celebrate the spectacle of fall in sumac country before it fades to white. This fall mosaic is tiled with […]

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