Autumn has historically been one of the best times of year to travel.
In years past, while under the employ of others, I began intentionally traveling in Autumn largely to use the legal holiday of Labor Day as a vacation day, providing the most bang for the paid time off buck.
Now, many years later the benefits were clear and the pattern well established. Crowds of summer have dwindled. Children are back in school, parent's vacation time is spent and many families are settling back into the rhythm of daily life.
But the fall colors are still there. The crisp bite in the air is still felt. The smells of damp, downed foliage permeate fresh air and autumn light is second to none. Animals are on the move. Skies come alive as storm systems materialize around the fringes of the seasons. In this case even the most risk/change averse must agree that change of season is beautiful.
Rates in hotels drop significantly the last week of October and first week of November. Gas prices are down. Campgrounds are largely still open and far less crowded, though many campgrounds - especially further north - have shuttered themselves, bracing for what's to come: the cold, snowy months of winter. In the quiet absence of crowds, one is free to - if even only for a short time - experience a little peace, a little solitude, a little quiet joy.
Smaller crowds are more reverent, gathered at common viewpoints to experience sunrise or sunset with hands stuffed in pockets and collars zipped against the cold. Those out to gather the same experience are friendly, cordial, polite; respectful of what they're experiencing.
Autumn is the perfect time to travel through out the Rocky Mountain West, Pacific Northwest and American Southwest.
This Autumn I have been fortunate to visit 8 National Parks, covering nearly 7,000 miles of driving. As film is processed and imagery emerges the resulting photographs will be shown here first.