Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fall foliage at Zion

with 40 comments

On October 23, 2016, we drove west through Zion National Park on our way to Nevada.

You’re looking at three photographs of the park in which fall foliage co-stars with the rock formations.

And from Kolob Terrace Road, which winds its way in and out of the park’s western fringe,
here’s a view of what I take to be burned but becoming maple trees:

It’s autumn again now. Rather than a single quotation about the season, you can harvest a host of them.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 23, 2020 at 4:41 AM

40 Responses

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  1. These are spectacular images – magnificent rock formations, and the more delicate and colorful trees in the foreground. These photographs showcase the autumn season! I enjoyed the quotes – quite a few of them took me to my thoughts these days as I tread the paths through the orchard and west end of our property. We are seeing a beautiful display of color this year, but we may not see the full splendor if old man winter does it in next week. It looks as if we can expect sleet and possible snow in our part of the state.


    October 23, 2020 at 7:22 AM

    • Sleet and snow when you’re not even out of October: that sounds like you live further north than you actually do. Is it typical for your part of Oklahoma? I’d never thought of fall foliage in connection with your state until we drove down the eastern edge of it, through the Ouachita National Forest and the Talimena Scenic Drive, on November 10, 2013, and then I knew better. Of course that still lacked the majestic mountains of Zion that added so much to the fall foliage we witnessed there. As for your own display of color now, I hope you’ll get some good pictures to show us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2020 at 7:49 AM

      • We are on the outskirts of Anadarko near the Washita River and about forty minutes from the Wichita Mountains (the Ouachita Mountain area is much more interesting). We rarely see a colorful autumn here because of rain that occurs each year. It is rare to have freezing rain and snow though, so next week should be interesting.

        The only pictures I’m managing are hit and miss with the fawns we are raising. We took on another little fawn about three weeks ago, so there are four now. And, in early October one of Forrest’s sisters offered to rent the rock house, so between the last mowing, garden harvest and preserving food for winter, we are painting and repairing what we can to at least get it inhabitable with the promise of more remodeling as we go along in the next few years. But your suggestion is still doable! I go to the woods every day to cut cascades of cat brier for the deer, and the changes in the woodlands can be documented on those trips. The monarchs have moved through for the most part – that was fairly spectacular this year – they hung in the trees for a couple of weeks off and on. So beautiful!!


        October 23, 2020 at 9:45 AM

        • Let’s hope your spectacular monarchs will come through Austin soon. So far I’ve seen nary a one here this year.

          Your life sounds as busy as ever—that seems to be normal for you!

          I looked up Anadarko and found it’s not far southwest of Oklahoma City. What you said about the Ouachita Mountains being more scenic than the Wichita Mountains matches what I observed. I’d be happy to get back to the Ouachitas in autumn.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 23, 2020 at 2:12 PM

        • Wikipedia just gave me this fact about the name of your town: “Anadarko got its name when its post office was established in 1873. The designation came from the Nadarko Native Americans, a branch of the Caddo, and the ‘A’ was added by clerical error.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 27, 2020 at 7:40 AM

  2. The sun-bathed foliage on the third photo creates a 3D effect and makes the tree stand out against the dark rock formation.

    Peter Klopp

    October 23, 2020 at 8:20 AM

    • I’m always up for adding a D, going from two dimensions to three.
      I was fortunate that enough light made it into the canyon to light up that tree.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2020 at 8:27 AM

      • This is my favorite too. I love how you’ve kept the rocks dark and somber while preserving their delicate detail, and the sunlit trees fairly glow against that dark background.


        October 25, 2020 at 7:10 PM

        • Thanks. Sometimes we have a concept but don’t pull it off. I have to say that in this case it worked out really well.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 25, 2020 at 7:45 PM

  3. Wonderful images, my friend!

    marina kanavaki

    October 23, 2020 at 8:49 AM

  4. Utah has the BEST fall colors! Just love it against all that red rock – gorgeous photos as usual

    M.B. Henry

    October 23, 2020 at 5:18 PM

    • Yes, Utah’s a super-scenic state. I wish we’d been able to stay longer for more of those fall colors you mentioned—which isn’t to say we were unhappy with what we saw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 23, 2020 at 5:22 PM

      • I was quite fortunate to drive through Utah one year during the peak of fall colors. When the sun hit the yellow trees just right, it was jaw-dropping. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get many photographs at the time, but I hope to make it back to Utah during the fall one of these years! 🙂

        M.B. Henry

        October 23, 2020 at 5:26 PM

        • From what you’ve said, getting back there is a must. Figuring out when the peak of fall color will arrive in a given year can be hard, however, and residents have a big advantage over visitors when it comes to that. Maybe you’ll have to stay for a month to be sure you hit the peak.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 23, 2020 at 5:30 PM

          • Exactly – it’s quite a challenge to nail down peak fall foliage – a problem I’ve had with my many visits to Colorado. I can never quite time it right with those aspens changing!

            M.B. Henry

            October 23, 2020 at 5:44 PM

            • In places like Utah and Colorado, even if you miss the peak fall foliage, you always have the consolation of all the other scenic things there that you can enjoy.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 23, 2020 at 5:50 PM

          • No system or guide’s perfect, but I thought this interactive map might be useful. It’ll be fun to see how close their prediction is for our area.


            October 24, 2020 at 10:31 PM

            • Thanks for that predictive map. I take it the map means “peak” in relative terms, because the peak in a place like Austin can never match the peak in places like Colorado and New England. You’ve made me wonder whether an individual kind of tree known for fall foliage can be early or late relative to all the colorful species in an area, just as a species of flower blooms early or late in certain years.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 25, 2020 at 6:53 AM

              • The person to ask about early and late-turning trees might be Steve G. Somewhere I came across a comment by a map user who said it’s designed to be area-specific; it would take our sumac and Chinese tallow into account as much as Lost Maples and the deciduous forests of east Texas.


                October 25, 2020 at 2:15 PM

                • Too bad we can’t click a state on the map and see a list of the species and places taken into account.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 25, 2020 at 7:24 PM

  5. Beautiful autumnal colours.


    October 24, 2020 at 10:58 AM

    • Austin is too far south for lots of large-scale autumn foliage, so the stop in Zion was a welcome change.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2020 at 8:40 PM

  6. I think the rock formations have a slight edge over the foliage!!


    October 24, 2020 at 7:51 PM

  7. I especially enjoyed the third photo, where the rock is more typically ‘autumnal’ in color, while the tree seems green and summery. The contrast of light and dark emphasizes the colors, too. It’s just so attractive.

    The scraggliness of the trees in the first photo is appealing, too. There’s something about them that reminds me of Texas: they evoke a bit of the limestone/live oak combinations of the hill country.


    October 24, 2020 at 10:42 PM

    • I hesitated to include the third picture because the tree doesn’t display what we would normally call fall foliage. There does seem to be a little yellowing in a few places, especially near the bottom, though that could be a trick of the lighting. Oh well, since I recently renewed my poetic license I went ahead and put the picture in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 6:58 AM

  8. I enjoyed them all but the second with something monolithic in appearance, sandstone I guess, is quite appealing.

    Steve Gingold

    October 27, 2020 at 4:28 AM

    • The second was a great opportunity to combine fall leaf color with even more colorful rock formations.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2020 at 8:00 AM

  9. The third photo is beautiful, and it really isn’t so different from some I’ve taken up here lately, as long as you don’t think about what constitutes the darkness or what species the yellow-leaved tree is. 😉


    October 28, 2020 at 2:08 PM

    • The third picture appealed to me with its light-in-the-darkness approach, even if most of the leaves were still green (I’d have preferred red/orange/yellow. I’m missing the yellow-leaved tree you have in mind.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2020 at 2:59 PM

  10. Beautiful photos … what a superb place!


    October 30, 2020 at 12:42 AM

    • I didn’t even know we’d find some fall foliage there. I chose the place for its geology.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 30, 2020 at 7:59 AM

  11. Such gorgeous photos, thank you so much for posting them for us to see.

    Geri Lawhon

    November 4, 2020 at 6:08 PM

    • You’re welcome. It was a great place to see, so I’m happy to promote it. I’d gladly return.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 4, 2020 at 10:01 PM

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