on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Eldorado Canyon

Well Known/Unknown

Dan Baumbach

Most mornings I start my day wandering around the hills with my camera. I may go to a specific location looking for a particular kind of image, but with luck, I’ll quiet down and just get into being there and looking at everything.

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I discovered Eldorado Canyon State Park a week after I moved to Boulder, Colorado for a new job. It was a bit scary driving my Prius down the severely potholed dirt road through the town of Eldorado Springs to get to the park, but the moment I drove in, my jaw dropped.

Here I was, looking up at these canyon walls of orange, red and yellow with pine trees dancing right up to the walls.

The park is not large at all. There’s a fire road from the park entrance to the visitor centre that’s just less than a mile long and there are a number of trails off the fire road. Most of the photographs here were taken from the fire road or from Fowler Trail which climbs the canyon on the south side and parallels the fire road.

As the fire road climbs the canyon, the canyon walls continue to amaze.

Fowler Trail, which is cut into the south side of the canyon, gives some higher perspective to the coloured walls and trees.

When I first came to Colorado, I started photographing Eldorado Canyon almost immediately; but it took quite some time before I was really able to see and create meaningful photographs the place.

At that time I was shooting mostly 4x5 film. My longest lens was a 300mm, the equivalent of a 90mm on full frame digital. Like many photographers, I tended to approach landscapes with a wide angle lens, but that didn’t work for “Eldo”. There are no “classic” near/far views here-- just beautiful views that need to be composed more carefully.

Now I just shoot digital and I only bring telephoto lenses with me to the park.

Below is a different view of the trees we saw in the first image, taken from Fowler Trail at 350mm.

In addition to the amazing canyon walls, South Boulder Creek runs through the canyon next to the fire road.

The red reflected in the water is from one of Colorado’s amazing winter sunrises.

In the spring, the creek can be quite full from the snow melt.

I’ve spent many mornings wandering the creek for interesting abstracts.

The reflection of the sun-illuminated canyon walls in the creek makes for some wonderful colours.

Eldorado Canyon is a very popular place. On weekends it’s mobbed with climbers, hikers and picnickers. However, in my hundreds of visits to the place over the seven years I’ve lived in Colorado, I’ve only seen two photographers, and have never seen any photographs of the place other than tourist photos.

When I’m there, early in the morning, there’s usually no one but me and maybe a climber or two.

The park is fabulous in all seasons, but get’s overcrowded in the summer so get there by first light.



  • Harvey Steeves

    Everybody wants to shoot in the icon parks and locations. They look for the tripod holes.

  • Beautiful intimate work, Dan.

    • Dan Dhruva Baumbach

      Thank you Guy.

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