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The Extraordinary Beauty of the American Basin

By: James Harris

Colorado's American Basin is located in the heart of southern Colorado's San Juan Mountains near the towns of Ouray and Silverton, a five-hour drive from Denver and one of Colorado's most stunning landscapes. Intrepid visitors can expect to find spectacular views right from the trailhead, unique rock formations along the basin walls, and some of Colorado’s most photogenic wildflowers. Expect to find colorful varieties such as Colorado Columbine, Elephant's Head, Parry’s Primrose, and Marsh Marigolds. This high alpine area is completely surrounded by rocky vertical cliffs, a section of which leads up to Handies Peak, one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. While visiting American Basin, be sure to check out Sloan Lake, a beautiful high alpine lake found just below American Peak. Budget a minimum of half of a day for this 3.2-mile round trip hike and leave plenty of time to take in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Centennial State. All photos taken by James Harris. http://www.jamesharrisphotography.com/

A stunning sunset over the American Basin as a steady waterfall flows through the valley.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
The sun crests over the high peaks that surround the American Basin.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Colorado Columbines are found scattered through the basin along with many different types of Colorado Wildflowers.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Patches of yellow Marsh Marigolds through the rock gardens, surrounded by various different Colorado wildflowers.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Close up of a Colorado Columbine, Colorado’s State Flower. As beautiful as they are, curb your enthusiasm to pick one as it’s illegal. Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Volcanic rock can be found in the basin of the American Mountain.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Calmness rests over the American Basin at dusk as the sky slowly turns pink and purple.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography
Nightfall descends on the basin and the stars light up the night sky. The closest city is 20 miles away so expect beautiful, light pollution-less skies.
Photo Credit: James Harris Photography

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More