Nature, Landscape, and Night Sky Photography by Zach Schierl

Fall Color in Southern Utah

Ridge of golden aspens near Brian Head, UT

A ridge coated in aspens near Brian Head, UT begins to turn color in the early fall. The view from the Markagunt Plateau is truly expansive; in the background are ranges and valleys in the Great Basin of western Utah, and on a clear day one can clearly see Wheeler Peak in eastern Nevada

Another autumn is upon us, and once again we find ourselves becoming familiar with the surroundings of a new home, this time in Southern Utah. Why this neck of the woods, with its famous expanses of colorful slickrock, isn’t more well known for fall color, I do not understand. Near Fish Lake is the largest single aspen colony in the world, which also happens to be the worlds heaviest known organism period.

A bit closer to home for us is the Markagunt Plateau, which reaches elevations of over 11,000 feet and contains expansive reaches of aspen that rival, and to be honest probably beat, any we experienced in Colorado. The weather has been fairly mild for the last month or so, with few storms and little wind, allowing the leaves to put on an extended show:

Colorful aspens in lava flow, Markagunt Plateau, UT

One of the unique features of the Markagunt Plateau are a number of expansive and recent (<10,000 years) lava flows that coat much of the landscape above 9000 feet. The stark lava flows provide a stunning backdrop for the brilliant fall colors that occupy pockets of soil within their midst.

Colorful aspens dot lava flows on the Markagunt Plateau, UT

Aspens and lava flows, Markagunt Plateau, UT

Golden aspens on the Rattlesnake Creek Trail, Utah

A beautiful grove of aspens on the Rattlesnake Creek Trail near Brian Head, UT. This trail has clearly been a popular route for quite some time; we found inscriptions on some of these aspens dating back to 1903! (Along with many more recent ones sadly…)

Red aspen leaves near Duck Creek, Utah

This pocket of trees near the Duck Creek Campground possessed the most vividly red leaves I’ve ever seen on aspen trees.

Golden aspens on the Markagunt Plateay

Golden aspens coat the flanks of Hancock Peak, a small cinder cone on the Markagunt Plateau. This view was obtained from the summit of Brian Head Peak, 11, 312 feet above sea level. In the distance is the western escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, home to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Aspens in fog, Markaguny Plateau, Utah

I pass this grove of aspens several times per week on my way to work. I had been keeping an eye on this particular tree for weeks, and on this foggy day I finally pulled the car over to snap a photo.

Colorful Aspens in the Fog, Markagunt Plateau, UT

More aspens in the fog, Markagunt Plateau, Utah

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One response

  1. Thomas Kavenaugh

    Nice photos,
    Was up on Cedar Mesa a couple weeks ago hiking to Junction Ruin and saw a stand of Aspen already changing.

    October 10, 2016 at 7:07 pm

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