McClure Pass, CO
The McClure Pass is a great destination for landscape photographers and outdoor enthusiast. It is a 5-10 stretch just south of Marble, CO on CO 133 that runs through a huge Aspen grove with nice mountain view are all sides. You can easily spend a whole day on this stretch of road. The views on both the east and west sides are stunning and provide dozens and dozens of great photographic opportunities.
This particular location is just north of the summit of the McClure Pass (about 8,800 ft.) and provides a magnificent view of several southeast facing mountains ranges in the distance. In the fall, the Aspens provide an assortment of gold, orange and yellow hues with the backdrop of snow covered mountains. The location is definitely worth the visit.
Trail Difficulty (1 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 1 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). This location is a simple 30 yd. walk across the road from the pullout at the summit of McClure Pass.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
39° 7'48.04"N 107°16'56.40"W
click for a Google map of the location
8,725 Ft. Elevation
Decimal degree (DD) format: 39.130011, -107.282333
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click on image to enlarge
CLICK HERE to get driving directions to McClure Pass Summit.
The closest town is Carbondale, CO (a town 30 miles west of Aspen). Directions are from Carbondale.
From Carbondale, travel south on CO133 for 21 miles until you see the turnoff to Marble - don’t turn, but set your vehicles odometer. Continue on CO133 (past the Marble exit) up the mountain (McClure Pass) for 3.3 miles until you see a parking area on the right. Park in the parking area and the shot is directly across the highway.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
I find the best time to shoot this shot is late afternoon to sunset. Note: in the Fall, the setting sun is blocked by a mountain to the west.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
This location is a stunning vista all year round! However, for me the best time of year is during the fall color season (depending on the year – this ranges between mid Sept to the first week in October). The VERY BEST time to capture this spot would be when the aspens are turning golden and just after a good snowstorm. I would note that from my experience, the McClure Pass tends to turn a few days before other part of central Colorado.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
This location is a grand vista and can be taken either extremely wide to a medium compression (16mm – 70mm). The above image was taken with a 24mm lens.
There are no permits required in the area.
Direction of the Shot
The shot from the road is southeast @ 125°
Special Nuances of Shot
This is a vista that will stop you in your tracks as you drive by. You can shoot this as an extreme panorama, a straight forward shot or a nice compression. Literally, there are dozens of compositions along a rail across from the parking area. I would suggest walking up and down the rail to find the composition you are looking for before setting up your tripod.
Special Equipment Needed
Other than a tripod, there is no need for any special photography equipment unless you plan on doing a panoramic shot.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
There is a pretty good chance you will be with other photographers at this location, but the shoot area is pretty wide so you should not have a problem finding a good composition.
I use Verizon and there is no cell service at this location. In fact, you can’t get cell service until you drive back to Carbondale.
On the drive back to Carbondale, there are several camping spots to choose from. Two in the Marble area and 2-3 others on CO133 toward Carbondale.
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Bogan Flats Campground just after the turnoff from CO-133 S toward Marble
Meri Daes RV Park is in Marble.
Redstone Campground - (22 miles south of Carbondale)
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Beaver Lake Lodge & Cabins
201 E Silver St, Marble, CO
Comfort Inn & Suites Carbondale
920 Cowen Dr, Carbondale
The nearest restaurants are the Slow Grooving BBQ in Marble (10 miles) or to drive into Carbondale (25 miles). The Slow Grooving BBQ is a nice little place to grab a good meal and cold brew and Carbondale has a variety of good places to eat.
If you stay in Carbondale, you need to make sure you stop for breakfast at The Village Smithy – one of my favorite joints in Colorado.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
Slow Grooving BBQ
101 W 1st St, Marble, CO
Village Smithy Restaurant
26 S 3rd St, Carbondale, CO
White House Pizza
801 Main Ct, Carbondale, CO
The closest laundry mat is in xxx
The closest laundry facilities are in Carbondale, CO.
Sopris Laundry, 906 CO-133 Carbondale
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airports are Montrose (MTJ) 80 miles, Grand Junction (GJT) 100 miles and Denver (DEN) about 200 miles away. Montrose and Grand Junction are nice regional that services: American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determining the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise and moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.
NOTE: The Photographer's Ephemeris uses the Decimal Degree (DD) format for GPS coordinates to access their locations. The Decimal Degree (DD) coordinates can be found in the GPS section above.