Suggestions For Photographing Boulder And The Flatirons

Sunrise on the Flatirons at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado
The classic view of the Boulder Flatirons is from Chautaqua Park and the Meadows. The meadows provide many great 'props' such as wildflowers, tree's and Yucca plants to provide sweeping near to far views. Even though Chautauqua Park in Boulder is a photographers favorite location, there are many other great locations around Boulder to photograph the Flatirons and Boulder's other natural wonders. Technicial Details: Canon EOS 1Ds III, 16-35mm F2.8 L II
Due to some prior commitments, I had to stick close to town last week. I still managed to get out a few mornings around Boulder and capture some images I’m pleased with. Staying close to Boulder worked out pretty well for me. I had two great mornings with really interesting skies and clouds. I realize Boulder may not be a primary photo destination for photographers visiting Colorado, but it’s often a stop over on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. With only a morning or two to photograph, a photographer can be quite productive. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to share a couple of suggestions for photographing the Boulder area for a morning or two.

Tip 1: The Flatirons from Chautauqua Park and meadow is by far the most popular location to photograph in Boulder. This is the classic view of the Flatirons that you will see hanging in shops and galleries along Pearl Street. Chautauqua Park is a beautiful spot and the meadow allows one to photograph with short hiking distances and lots of interesting props to make strong near/far compositions.

Chautauqua Park is a great morning location all year. Just a short drive from downtown Boulder, one can expect the best light at sunrise. The Flatiron formation east facing orientation allows them to receive the earliest of light as the sun rises over the high plains. The Flatirons will typically glow an intense red as the first light of bathes the granite faces.

Chautauqua meadow provides ample amounts of interesting foreground subjects as well. Starting in the late Spring, wildflowers will begin to bloom over the meadow. Typically Golden Banner will begin to bloom in the meadow around the first week of May. Wild Iris, Silver Lupine and Sweet Pea will all follow along as temperatures warm. Depending on moisture and temperature you will typically find large groups of wildflowers in the meadow from early May through late June. The meadow also has interesting tree’s, boulders and Yucca’s that can be used all four season’s as foreground props.

South Boulder Creek Meanders through the bottom of the frame as sunrise lights up the Flatirons and South Boulder Peak
South Boulder Creek meanders through the bottom of the frame as South Boulder Peak illuminates the mornings first light. I photographed this image from Eldorado Springs. This view of the Flatirons is not photographed as often as Chautauqua Park, but some of the best views of the Flatiron foramtion are photographed south of Boulder. Technical Details: Canon EOS 1Ds III, 16-35mm F2.8 L II

Tip 2: Photographing the Flatirons does not begin and end at Chautauqua park. As stated above, Chautauqua park is by far the most popular place to photograph the Flatirons. This is partly because of its close proximity to downtown Boulder and easy access. While I love photographing from Chautauqua Park, I think there are some even better locations to photograph the Boulder Flatirons.

In particular, some of the Boulder County Open Space and Mountain Park’s properties south of Boulder offer some of the best vantages of the Flatiron formation. The area around Eldorado Springs offers some great vantage points of the Flatirons and South Boulder peak. Some hiking and exploration around the Doudy Draw trailhead as well as the Flatirons Vista trailhead will reveal some of my favorite vantage points for photographing the Flatirons.

Tip 3: There is much more to photograph in Boulder than just the Flatirons. While many photographers favor images of the Flatirons, exploring Gregory Canyon, Flagstaff Mountain, and trails such as the Mesa trail will all provide rewarding images of Ponderosa Pines, Yucca’s and other more intimate forest scenes. I personally find photographing these areas during or after a recent snowstorm to be the most rewarding time to hit the trails around Boulder.

2 thoughts on “Suggestions For Photographing Boulder And The Flatirons

  1. Thanks for this article! I was going to head up early tomorrow morning and try to take a few shots at sunrise of the Flatirons and found your article very useful. I hope to capture some great shots!

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