Aspen colors

A grove of aspen trees is backlit on a gloomy fall day. Fall colors are at their peak in many areas.

BRETT FRENCH, Gazette Staff

I am always impressed by photographers who can capture the beauty of fall colors with a camera and communicate that soulful feeling of the changing season to viewers.

Every time I take a snap and look at it on the screen, it never seems to capture the vivid elegance of the bright leaves. But I press on, hoping that if I take enough photos someday I will capture that one true shot. (To see these photos in color, log on to MontanaUntamed.com.)

As also noted in Bob Krumm’s column this week, now is the time to get out and view fall colors, as they are at their peak in many areas. Gas up the car and take a drive to your favorite river or stream drainage, or climb into the mountains to see golden and orange aspen, red osier and ivy brightening dark green pine tree slopes. Northwestern Montana has the added variety of tamarack trees turning colors, something not found in the rest of the state.

Even better, launch your canoe, drift boat or raft and float under the golden canopy. Fill a Thermos with your favorite hot beverage to keep your innards toasty along the way. My favorite fall floats include the Yellowstone River through Paradise Valley, the lower Madison from Greycliff fishing access site downstream, the Missouri River between Toston and Townsend and the Bitterroot River.

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Carpet of color

The forest undergrowth is also changing colors, making a walk in the woods a bright experience.

Or simply get out and stroll around the local park or climb atop Mount Helena, Mount Sentinel, the Maud S. Canyon loop or the Rimrocks to view the bright puffs of color dotting the cityscapes of Helena, Missoula, Butte and Billings, respectively. If you have time, sit still and listen to the wind chattering through the colorful leaves. It’s a sound as relaxing as any sedative.

And don’t forget your camera. Maybe you can capture the perfect fall colors photo. Even though I can’t find that one shot that satisfies me, I do have fun trying, and I enjoy looking at the trees and colors more intently and from a variety of angles. 

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