The Western Slopes of the Rockies are immensely powerful. The landscape, the history, and the alien-like flora and fauna brings you to another world. There are dramatic canyons of red sandstone, petroglyphs from a different time, the smells of pinyon and juniper, and a quiet desert breeze that makes you feel like you are in your own western movie.
In the Spring, there is a rustling energy under the sands of western Colorado. Animals become more energetic as they look for a mate, desert plants start to sprawl and flower, and snow melt brings life to the area. This photo was shot at sunrise on a meandering road in Colorado National Monument. Too early for other visitors, the road was empty which allowed me to just stop, roll down the windows, and take in the light show that was bouncing off the canyon walls.
Right after the shot, a hawk scream bounced off the canyon walls around me which immediately put a smile on my face. This couldn't be real. Am I in a movie right now?
As the sun rose higher in the sky, an array of animals came out to soak up some rays and perform for a mate. Dragonflies were flying around doubled up in love, bees were hopping from flower to flower bursting with pollen, and the Collared Lizards colors have never been more vibrant.
In May and June, the Collared Lizard experiences peak mating season. The males are almost psychedelic among the light earth tones of sandstone. They shine as they soak up sun on dead wood, light rocks, etc. Out of the corner of your eye, you will see two males rolling around in a frenzy of color trying to win over a nearby female.
These lizards run up to 16 mph so capturing a close up picture like this took about an hour of getting the lizard used to my presence. I didn't have a zoom lens by this point so I actually took this shot with a macro lens so my camera was about 5 feet from this lizard.
As with most ecosystems in spring, flowers are booming trying to attract the bees through incredible smells and vibrant colors. Even the cacti were putting on a show with red, yellow, and white flowers. I was absolutely sober but the combination of deep red rocks all around me, flowers of every color, and 16 mph rainbow lizards made me feel like I was at the precipice of an LSD trip.
With the desert heat and the sandy trails being shifted by the wind, it is easy to get lost and put too much energy into a hike. My best pictures on this trip were taken when my dog and I would slow down and take a break to chug some water and cool down. Sometimes when you are focused on completing miles of a trail, you pass over awesome plants, animals, and if you're lucky, crystals or fossils.
The arroyos were full of rocks that had been in the spin cycle of a flash flood or seasonal creek. Occasionally, a deep purple would catch your eye in the white sand. Sure enough, there were small bits of amethyst that had been slightly eroded by the water and sand.
Take your time and look around. Little things are happening just around the corner or behind that shade tree that will make for some incredible pictures. The wind, and likely flash flood erosion, created some incredible rock formations and resting spots.