Winter Fun and Nature’s Beauty in the Central Colorado Rockies

It has been a busy winter so far for the ol’ Canon camera. The incomparable Colorado landscape, plentiful snow and animated clients and visitors provided wonderful visual imagery. I lost a few pounds and almost a few fingers (to frostbite) capturing these photos. But I hope you’ll agree it was worth the effort. Enjoy these selected snapshots of winter fun in the Colorado high country.

Most are from Vail Mountain and Summit County locations during Dec., Jan. & Feb.

As always, most of these images are available as high-resolution fine-art prints, or as electronic stock images for consumer and business publications or web site/Internet uses.
If you are Colorado local, I am also available for private photo shoots of any type.
Contact me for image prices, shoot fees, and terms of use.


All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography

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All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography

Let it snow even more.

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The Polar Plunge in Evergreen Lake on New Year’s Day

Thanks for your patience. 
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All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography


Okay, so it’s 15 degrees. So what. The sun’s out! And somebody cut a hole in the ice. So let’s go swimming.

Evergreen, Colorado.  January 1, 2011.

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Mountains in Winter 1

All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.
© Eric Schickler Photography

RMNP- Hallet Peak area -Snowy Clouds

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RMNP-Hallett Peak from YMCA Camp-horiz-HI-RES

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Vail Mountain – Closing Day Celebration – April 14, 2013. The Ceremonial End to Vail’s 50th Season. *

* Two days later, the season was extended for the three-day weekend of April 19-21 due to abundant amounts of new snow.

Not sure what kind of party will happen on Sunday 21st, but this would be hard to re-create. There is nothing like Closing Day at Vail:  colorful, noisy, wild and unpredictable. Full of customs, costumes, vittles and bevvies, and plenty of tradition. Sweet and bitter, happy and sad. But always memorable.


All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography

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Snow & Ice – Evergreen & Kittredge, Colorado

Feb. 2-5, 2012 – This early February snowstorm dropped nearly 30 inches in and around Evergreen. Look at the delights it left on our foothills countryside.


© Eric Schickler Photography, Communication & Design

All photography, text and artwork seen here (unless otherwise noted) is copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography, Communication & Design. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

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Snowy Scenics – Evergreen, Colorado

Winter in Evergreen is remarkable, and scenic beyond belief. Within one mile of my home are the most scenic spots, that take on a magic quality when the blankets of white fall from the sky. I find subject matter that is simple, grand, intriguing, soothing, peaceful, invigorating, quaint, inspiring and fascinating.

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These images were taken in, around and near Alderfer/Three Sisters Park, and along Bear Creek, just east of Evergreen.

The park has 770 acres of ponderosa pines, silver-plume quartz outcrops and scenic open meadows, accessed by 10 miles of gentle trails. The primary early landowners, the Alderfer family, named the landmark rock outcrops after their children: the “Three Sisters and the “Brother.” The park has become very popular with mountain bikers and hikers, many of whom drive up from the Denver metro area on weekends.


I find endless moments of adventure, exercise and solitude in the park during the week, when you can often explore for hours without seeing a solitary person. Animals represent a higher percentage of the population at these times. I’ve seen coyotes, deer, elk, fox, bear, marmots, and plenty of hawks and eagles.


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One of my favorite little critters is the Abert’s squirrel, distinguished by its black coat and fuzzy upright ears. It is named after Colonel John James Abert, an American naturalist and military officer who led the Corps of Topographical Engineers, which mapped the western U.S. in the 1800s. The squirrels are found primarily in ponderosa pines forests, which they use for food, protection and nesting.

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One inhabitant I’m happy to have never met on the trail is the mountain lion. They are known to inhabit the park, and I have heard a few growling off in the distance. I learned early on that it’s not a great idea to run the wooded trails at dusk or dawn.

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The elk population in and around Evergreen has grown significantly over the past several decades due to their protected status and the small remaining number of mountain lions, their primary predator.


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Human-elk interactions are a daily occurrence in Evergreen, where the concept of “Rush Hour Traffic” is very different from that found in the city. Rush hour in this community often refers to a herd of elk in the middle of the road, on your driveway, sidewalk or in your backyard. Automobile traffic is stopped by both traffic lights and elk herd crossings.

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The funniest Evergreen “rush hour” moment for me was watching five elk parading aimlessly around a traffic circle in the center of town at 5 p.m., paying no heed to the well known rule that vehicles already in the traffic circle have the right of way! Fortunately most resident drivers are very alert to sudden elk appearances, and show great patience in allowing them their migratory freedoms in and around town. Letting them ravage one’s deciduous trees and gardens is another matter altogether.

When snow covers the park, hikers strap on snowshoes, skis and ice & snow crampons to tackle the trails. Some hardy mountain bikers continue to ride the trails when the snow is hard-packed.



Winter is such a highly rewarding time for photography. That’s when I experience and document unique contrasts, the mix of cool and warm light, soft gradients, the visual delights of falling snowflakes, the juxtaposition of stark blue skies and sheets of white, and the dance of snow clouds as they rake the mountaintops.


Then my lens moves to the fascinating formations of snow on the sturdy ponderosa pines and aspens, the gentle lines and reflections along the waters of Bear Creek, the sparkle of Colorado’s dry champagne powder, and the soft draping of powder on exposed rock outcrops.


My most successful winter images are those that actually capture and convey the hush that exists when a deep blanket of snow covers the landscape. That peace and serenity is also why I so enjoy braving the elements to bring you these images. Which brings me back to the primary reason I am a nature photographer. It keeps me outside and away from the computer!


As I get older and find myself staring down yet another winter, my mind drifts to thoughts of a warm tropical beach and all the comforts that come with it. But then I look out my door and find scenes like these in the Colorado foothills. I could never move to a one-season location. Look what I would miss!

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Marriage Proposal on a Wooded Hilltop in Evergreen * Engagement

Feb. 16, 2011

All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography



This shoot assignment was a pure pleasure for me. Nate wanted photos of his marriage proposal to Meleah. I was hired by his friend (who is my neighbor) to secretly capture these very special moments on a snowy hillside in February 2011.

Meleah was unaware of all the secret planning that went into documenting their special day. I scouted out a place to hide behind a fallen tree, and fashioned a pine branch canopy to conceal my location. It was cool and windy that afternoon, with six inches of snow on the ground.

Nate & Meleah were brought up the mountain by their friends under the pretense of a routine afternoon trail hike. But their friends lost the trail, and the entire group began wandering around somewhat aimlessly in the woods.

I checked my watch. Where are they? A huge cloud mass was moving in on the warm sunlight. It was getting windy. I was freezing. My shutter finger was losing feeling.

What would we do without cell phones to save the day? I heard voices below me on the hill. Then I spotted them. By cell phone I helped direct them back to the trail and upward towards the designated spot. Meleah was clueless about what was really going on.

My neighbor faked an incoming phone call that unfortunately required he and his daughter turn back, and forgo the rest of the hike. This left Nate & Meleah by themselves to make the loop to the summit.

But now they were coming up the trail from the opposite direction we had planned. I had to make some quick adjustments to my hiding place, covering myself with even more pine branches, and nestling on the ground in the mud and snow. Only my zoom lens poked through the foliage, aimed carefully at the spot where a little bird house hung on a pine tree. That was the place he would drop down on his knee.

Wouldn’t you know a huge gust of wind came swooping across the hilltop just before their arrival. The wind blew the pine branches over my lens! I did my best to get it cleared in time for the big moment, without making so much noise as to be discovered by Meleah. My heart pounding with adrenaline and excitement, I peered through my lens—and there they were. In perfect position. Click, click, click. It all worked out.

Now they will have that moment to relive for the rest of their lives.

After the surprise, the emotion, the tears, the “YES!” and the hugs, he got the ring on her finger, then directed her attention to the paparazzi hiding behind the fallen tree, forty feet away, on the other side of the trail.

I spent a few more hours with them, recording various joyful interactions and footloose outdoor fun.  They were a photographer’s dream — photogenic, casual, relaxed, lost in the moment, immersed in their very happy world, oblivious to me and my camera, oblivious to everything going on around them. Just the way it ought to be.

Nice work, Nate. Thanks for allowing me to share in your magical day. As you two spend your lives together, remember…… it’s not a big deal if you lose track of your designated path now and then, and maybe even get lost in the woods, as long as you always hike together.  Happy trails!


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Sugar-coated Late April Morning

Evergreen, Colorado
All photos and artwork included in this Web site are copyright-protected and the exclusive property of Eric Schickler Photography. No downloading, use, reproduction, manipulation, sale and/or distribution permitted without express written consent.

© Eric Schickler Photography

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Denver’s Union Station and the Colorado Ski Train

 Union Station:  the Alpha and The Omega

After a harrowing slide down the mountain in my trusted Mazda MX-6, I lugged my ski gear across the frozen parking lot, slipping on the fresh snow. (Better to slip on my feet, I thought, than off a mountain road in my car).

Sunrise over Denver from the Evergreen foothills.
Photo: Eric Schickler


The fallen snow had created a scenic white cityscape, unusual in Denver even in the middle of winter, and made Union Station look more prominent and historic than ever, its monstrous white-stoned bulk lurking in the foggy haze. Its juxtaposition in a relatively open area of Lower Downtown allows it to be seen like a statue in the center of a courtyard, from a greater distance and more perspectives than is usually afforded in tight city street grids. Its classic 1914 architecture makes it stand out in a downtown district that sees a new building pop up almost monthly.


The large lighted red letters that crown the building boldly announce where you are, and in a circus-attraction manner, promote a specific mode of transportation as if it were the latest fad worthy of curious exploration — “UNION STATION — TRAVEL by TRAIN.”  It reminded me of the entrance to Disneyland or the inviting allure of the lettering over an  amusement park. It was definitely a throwback to the past.  But that was part of the charm.

The station is indeed a testament to Denver’s colorful, historic past, when train travel was the fastest and most comfortable way to get around. And as we are learning, the station will again become a bustling transportation hub and social center for Denver. Will it become the giant it once was, or become even more magnificent, as its history and crucial location are blended with new commercial and residential development, travel technology and a myriad of visitors from even more distant lands? The dark quiet morning gave way to the glow of warm lights and activity in and around the terminal. The massive arched windows above the entrance beckoned me inside, as did the warmth of its cavernous hollow. I slipped into its massive hull, inhaled, swallowed up — like a wandering fish by a giant whale.

My lonely drive from the foothills into the deserted city streets gave way to an instant feeling of connection as I let the doors close behind me. Connection to the city, connection to people wide awake at 6:30 a.m., to the rail tracks that ran along the rear of the building, and to faraway destinations at the other end of the tracks. I was thankful for the activity and my senses were awakened. A wave of warm air met my frozen forehead, condensation formed on my eyeglasses, then my friends approached with a hot cup of coffee and warm greetings. Conversations quickly shifted to the nature of the approaching voyage we would make together.


Footstep echoes flittered across the grand atrium, mingling with muted, yet excited voices. Bundled-up children sat restlessly in the long wooden pews, as if they were about to witness a church service. But the facial expressions were not those you’d see as old Father Murphy marched past them to the alter. They were more like those you’d see on Christmas morning. The eager hum among the children grew with each passing minute. Even grown adults exuded child-like anticipation and excitement.

Everyone readied themselves and their baggage for boarding the quarter-mile-long train for the 7 a.m. departure for the mountains. Most city rail stations would see a 7 a.m. train screech to a halt, fill up quickly, depart, only to be followed within minutes by the same ritual, another train. With short visits from only two Amtrack trains per day, however, the activity around Denver’s Union Station today is like the flickering flame on the wick of a near-empty oil lamp. It’s akin to life in a western ghost town, where a smattering of weekend tourists provide enough commerce for seclusion-hungry locals to cling to a bare-bones existence.

The stark, expansive room seemed haunted with its early 1900’s decor and rich ambient history. In the few minutes I had before boarding, I imagined what it was like to be a child lost in the middle of a bustling throng of Depression-era travelers, filing in and out if the station during its heydays when nearly 80 trains a day pulled in and out. What a contrast to life at Union Station at the very end of the 20th century. Union Station stood as a static relic, an anomaly in Denver’s revitalized and vibrant Lower Downtown district. An unprecedented surge in LoDo’s economic activity was ignited by the 1995 opening of Coors Field. It was followed by widespread residential and commercial development, new businesses, sports, entertainment and cultural attractions, restaurants, galleries and shops. But the decline in rail travel and train commerce had relegated Union Station to a shadow of the activity center it once was.


 On this day, as the snow continued to fall, Union Station was as busy as it ever gets. It was a weekend in the winter, so the two daily Amtrack trains would be complemented by the Rio Grande Ski Train, which carries passengers to Winter Park Resort for a day of downhill fun or sightseeing, as it has for 60 years. People rave about the Ski Train. It’s a must for every Coloradan.

I had driven from Evergreen to Denver before dawn, and would go back up the hill later that evening.  Was all that effort worth a train ride? I was joining a group of friends for the excursion, my first ever on the Ski Train. I was just as excited as any of the children making their first trip. And I was just going for the ride — I had a broken heel at the time and could not ski. That made no difference. The best parts of the day are the train rides.

On the train, I delighted in the fact that I and 749 others were sitting back enjoying the passing countryside, instead of clinging white-knuckled to my steering wheel as I maneuvered snow-packed I-70, U.S. 40 and Berthoud Pass. For two hours, we rode 56 comfortable miles, climbing 4,000 feet in elevation, passing through 28 tunnels. Then we approached the final mountain underpass, the 6.2-mile-long Moffat Tunnel, the highest railroad tunnel in the U.S.


But for some reason, the visit to historic Union Station was the most memorable part of my day. That building was the first and last impression of my trip, and it dawned on me that it’s the place where you say goodbye and hello, where you cry, smile and hug loved ones. Union Station is like the old worn leather cover of a great novel. The start and the finish, with so many memories in between. And you always end up sharing it with someone you love.

The last time I traveled any great distance by train was 1987 in New York State. After visiting Union Station and taking that ride on the Ski Train, I now think differently. I’ll look for an excuse to ride the train, and take my friends. Recent security concerns in airline travel have forced people to think again about rail travel. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I first walked into Union Station on that wintry morning.

Oh, getting back to my question…. Was it worth all that effort just to ride a train?  Oh yes. To ride a train and visit Union Station. When it comes to trains, the journey is the reason you ride, but I just love going through that station.

* All photos in this article (except sunrise image) courtesy of Denver’s Union Station and The Ski Train.


© Eric Schickler Photography, Communication & Design