Canyon Country: Winter In The Colorado National Monument

The Coke Ovens Overlook Trail is just half a mile or so in length but leads to a dramatic vantage point looking into Monument...

Wide View from Coke Ovens Overlook Trail

The Coke Ovens Overlook Trail is just half a mile or so in length but leads to a dramatic vantage point looking into Monument Canyon. I made this huge view from 15 vertical photographs shot with a 20 mm lens. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

On a clear day, the panorama at Grand View is perhaps the best of any of the Colorado National Monument's viewpoints.  On...

Snowy Monument Panorama

On a clear day, the panorama at Grand View is perhaps the best of any of the Colorado National Monument's viewpoints.  On this particular day, snow poured straight down out of low clouds in the absence of any wind, obscuring the monument's sandstone monoliths and covering everything with white and silence.  This panorama is a fusion of ten vertical photographs. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Unless you're already familiar with the landscape, it's almost impossible to tell from this photograph that a city of ~60,000...

The Picture of Clear Air

Unless you're already familiar with the landscape, it's almost impossible to tell from this photograph that a city of ~60,000 people lies between the red rock of the Colorado National Monument and that bright white band near the top of the frame, the snow-covered Little Book Cliffs.  The new snow that fell the day before left the air completely clear and covered nearly everything with a snow blanket ranging from an inch to several inches deep. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Fog rolled in, out, and back in during much of the afternoon on this unusually warm February day, making this scene from Grand...

Blue Sky and Clearing Fog

Fog rolled in, out, and back in during much of the afternoon on this unusually warm February day, making this scene from Grand View alternately breathtaking and completely enveloped with clouds. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Cold Shivers Point lived up to its name when I made this image.  The snowy part of an Arctic front had ceased, leaving...

Snowy Tree near Cold Shivers Point

Cold Shivers Point lived up to its name when I made this image.  The snowy part of an Arctic front had ceased, leaving, well, Arctic temperatures in its wake.  Add a 15-20 mph wind, and it was frigid. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

So named because of their resemblance to the brick ovens built to make coke from coal, The Coke Ovens at Colorado National Monument...

Winter Brilliance at The Coke Ovens

So named because of their resemblance to the brick ovens built to make coke from coal, The Coke Ovens at Colorado National Monument are just some of the outstanding rock formations of Monument Canyon.  I made this image after an early December storm dropped nearly a foot of snow on the upper parts of the CNM.  Red rock + snow + warm sunshine = a great day. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Swirling clouds reveal only the top 150' or so of Independence Monument.

Sea of Clouds around Independence

Swirling clouds reveal only the top 150' or so of Independence Monument. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

"Belt of Venus" is the name given to the phenomenon in which a pink glow from the backscattering of longer visible wavelengths...

Early December Sunset in the Monument

"Belt of Venus" is the name given to the phenomenon in which a pink glow from the backscattering of longer visible wavelengths of light hovers over the horizon in the east at sunset and the west at sunrise.  This belt is even more dramatic when contrasted with snow.  Add a layer of red rock for more contrast.  Add a second layer of red rock for an image that features warm and cool tones alternating from top to bottom. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Falling snow and fog obscured the Monument's sandstone formations in delightful ways on this magnificent winter day.  I...

Winter's Cloak

Falling snow and fog obscured the Monument's sandstone formations in delightful ways on this magnificent winter day.  I spent a few hours in complete solitude walking through new snow, waiting for the rocks to be revealed.  I never even heard another car on Rim Rock Drive, the road through the park, until I was on my way home.  Within an hour of my leaving, the upper part of the road was closed because of the heavy snowfall.  I feel fortunate to have been there when I was and to have made this photograph that captures much of what I saw and felt. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Colorado National Monument

Heavy Snow in Monument Canyon

Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Grand Junction, Mount Garfield, Little Bookcliffs

Fading Light on Mount Garfield

Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Colorado National Monument, Independence Monument, snow

Winter Wonder at Independence Monument

Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

The wilderness character and proximity to a sizable urban area make the Colorado National Monument unique in the National Park...

Clouds, Independence Monument

The wilderness character and proximity to a sizable urban area make the Colorado National Monument unique in the National Park Service system.  The clouds surrounding the base of Independence Monument completely obscure the city of Grand Junction, population ~60,000, that sits just a few miles away. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

One of the most scenic viewpoints along Rim Rock Drive, Grand View gives a spectacular panorama of the Little Book Cliffs (far...

A Grand Snowy Sunny View

One of the most scenic viewpoints along Rim Rock Drive, Grand View gives a spectacular panorama of the Little Book Cliffs (far background), Grand Mesa (flattop mountain, far background, right), and two of the park's most prominent sandstone formations, Independence Monument and Kissing Couple.  I made this 12-image panorama a day after our second major snowfall of the 2013-2014 season. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

I spent a few hours on a recent snowy day in the Colorado National Monument as snow poured and clouds shrouded, then revealed...

Snowy Junipers and the Kissing Couple

I spent a few hours on a recent snowy day in the Colorado National Monument as snow poured and clouds shrouded, then revealed, then shrouded again the park’s sandstone formations.  At one point, the snow was so heavy and the fog so thick that I sought shelter under a large pinyon, where I was entranced by that softest of sounds, the absorbing silence of falling snow.  I watched as little hexagons landed on my jacket, melted, and evaporated, returning to the atmosphere.  I wondered, what will become of those atoms?   Perhaps they fall again as rain on grapevines in Palisade. Maybe their fate is to be photosynthesized with my exhaled carbon dioxide to glucose, molecules of which find their way into a grape that is harvested, pressed, aged, where the glucose becomes ethanol.  The atoms return to me, this time as part of a full-bodied cabernet that I enjoy with dinner.  They become me but only for a little while. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Swirling clouds cleared from the Monument floor long enough for me to make this 8-image panorama.  A few minutes later...

Misty Panorama of Independence Monument

Swirling clouds cleared from the Monument floor long enough for me to make this 8-image panorama.  A few minutes later, all I could see from here was fog. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.

Clouds swirl up and around the red sandstone formations of the Colorado National Monument on an unusually warm February afternoon...

Red Rock, Clouds

Clouds swirl up and around the red sandstone formations of the Colorado National Monument on an unusually warm February afternoon. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.