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Gas up the four-wheel drive and have a photo album ready. After this trip, it'll be loaded with unforgettable images of Colorado's vast grandeur.
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Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Venture south toward Alamosa to experience a true wonder: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (nps.gov/grsa). Capture the scene that draws comparisons to the Arabian Desert, though defies those comparisons with marvelous surroundings of snow-capped peaks, dense forests and shimmering streams.
Address: National Park
CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Onward to one of the state's more scenic sites. Drive along the south rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (nps.gov/blca) near Montrose or set out on foot through the diverse landscape, which blends water, high woods and rock spires.
Mary Kelley, The Gazette
Bridal Veil Falls and Bear Creek Falls
In Telluride, the oohs and aahs come quickly - right when you arrive to the historic downtown, where the backdrop of Victorian buildings is dramatic, craggy mountains. With a little effort, awe-inspiring photo ops await at Bridal Veil Falls and Bear Creek Falls (telluride.com).
Address: Bridal Veil Falls, Bear Creek Falls
Colorado National Monument
Grand Junction is home to Colorado National Monument (nps.gov/colm), a panorama of red-rock monoliths spotting a forested plateau.
Address: Colorado National Monument
Be sure to set your lens on the Grand Mesa (visitgrandjunction.com), the world's largest flat-top mountain.
Address: Grand Mesa
Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette
You'll have to work for your next pictures: the trail to Hanging Lake (visitglenwood.com), starting near Glenwood Springs, gains more than 1,000 vertical feet in less than 2 miles. But there's a reason it's one of Colorado's more trafficked trails, with the reward of an emerald pool beneath a waterfall.
Address: Hanging Lake
Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Last but certainly not least are the Maroon Bells (aspenchamber.org), touted as Colorado's most photographed site and deserving of an annual pilgrimage. Visitors are bussed from Aspen to the wilderness, with a centerpiece of twin peaks looming over a lake. People perch their cameras at the shoreline for hours, waiting for the clouds and sun to play perfectly.
Address: Maroon Bells
STACIE SCOTT, THE GAZETTE