The hills are on fire |

The hills are on fire

As the sun hits the changing leaves, it illuminates this forest in Eagle-Vail with a soft glow. Each fall, aspens retract chlorophyll molecules from their leaves and sequester them in their stems and roots, to be shipped back into the branches and leaves the following spring. The chlorophyll molecules, which give the leaves their green hue, absorb sunlight to produce most of the energy for deciduous trees like aspens.
Anthony Thornton | |

EAGLE COUNTY — It’s fall in the mountains, and nothing signals the end of summer like the changing of the aspen leaves. The golden, orange and red hues are in their peak color, making for gawk-worthy landscapes in the mountains.

Each year brings different variations of colors, changing at slightly different times in the fall, depending on rainfall, temperatures and altitude. The aspens are looking very healthy this year, said University of Colorado Boulder professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Michael Grant, which could be part of the reason the colors are particularly impressive this season.

So feel free to stare — unless you’re driving, of course — and read on for some interesting facts about the phenomenon of our autumn colors.

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