Photographing Fall Colors

The search for autumn colors is not far off. Crisp cool air, low angles of sunlight and the smell of leaves…it’s a wonderful intoxicant!

Here in Washington State there are many fantastic places to visit for great fall colors. The low lands and valleys of the mountains are filled with maple and birch, cottonwood and blueberry, all making for a fiery palette of colors.

My favorite fall color provider here in NW Washington is the Subalpine Larch.

Larches are conifers, native to much of the cooler temperate northern hemisphere, on lowlands in the north and high on mountains further south. Although a conifer, the larch is a deciduous tree and loses its leaves in the autumn. The needles turn yellow/orange and fall off in the late autumn, leaving the trees leafless through the winter.

The Subalpine Larch is found at higher elevations; in the North Cascades you’ll find stands of larch between 5,000 to 7,000 feet of elevation.

The allure of colors is often about contrast: white daisies on a green field; bright red paintbrush against a stark blue sky or a purple sunset over a green sea, these all make for stunning, captivating, alluring combinations.

Photographing Fall Colors

Early October is when the larch start to turn color, first a yellowish tint, becoming more and more orange as the season rolls on. The low angles of light at sunrise and sunset magnify, many times over, the electric quality and glow of the orange needles.

Blue skies, white clouds, azure lakes, green spruce and bright orange larch, they all combine into sublime patterns and colors.

Here are a few of the many places to get your fall color fix in the North Cascades:
• Washington Pass, along the North Cascades Highway (Hwy 20) Drive in location


• Lake Ann – Maple Pass Loop (Hwy 20) 7 mile loop hike


• Blue Lake (Hwy 20) 4 mile hike


• Baker River Trail (Baker Lake Rd) Easy 2 mile hike


• Cathedral Lakes Basin, Pasayten Wilderness (30 mile one-way hike)


• Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness (20 mile through hike, very strenuous)

If you are interested in a Guided Photo Tour to any of these places, here is the link for the details!

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