There's no way to know a place intimately in a short period of time, but here's the portrait of Colorado that I'd like to share from a month spent photographing her.

When we spend time in a new place, we experience it through all of our senses. We see, we smell, we listen. We compare it to places that we’ve known before. For me, my camera is the tool with which I can best wrap all these senses into one story.

 Throughout the month of August, I tried to capture Colorado through its lesser-visited locations…and in those locations which are frequently visited, I tried to show the more raw side…or maybe not the raw side, but the every-day side.

 This photo essay is a compilation of many different towns, in different regions of the state. As a photographer, one of my favorite things to do is to reveal what’s already sitting under our noses. In this photo essay, I’ve chosen to give small written descriptions of towns throughout Colorado; however, the locations and order have purposely been left out, as to allow you to imagine for yourself the magic within this state. The images are not correlated with the writing, and vice versa.

“Colorado and Wyoming are America’s highest states, averaging 6,800 and 6,700 feet above sea level. Colorado has more fourteeners than all the other U.S. states combined, and more than all of Canada, too. Colorado’s lowest point is higher than the highest point in twenty other states. Rivers begin here and flow away to all the points of the compass.”

Keith Meldahl, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

In one particular valley in Colorado, there is a town with tons of mountain spirit (and mountain lions.) Said town backs up to a river, which backs up to a red-rock cliff, which backs up to some seriously steep terrain. It’s a town where everyone plays hard…but goes to sleep by 10:00 pm, even on the weekends. The post office is always closed, but the breweries and ice cream joints are always open. It’s a place where the runners run, the rafters raft, the climbers climb–the sun shines down, the sun sets, and then they do it all again.

“Passing through your wonderful mountains and canyons I realize that this state is going to be more and more the playground for the whole republic.” Theodore Roosevelt

There is a particular place in Colorado which is, probably, all-too-often written off. “It’s too expensive,” is the common rhetoric, or maybe it’s because “I can’t ski.” But the fact is that this special place is home to some good spirit. There are great eats, steep ski runs, and quite a few black bears. Summer is just as much playtime as winter here; instead of swooshing down the runs, everyone just hikes up them. Jazz festivals, whirring gondolas, and fluttering leaves fill the air during the summer months in this Colorado playground—and everyone does play here, from summer to winter and back to summer again.

“Colorado men we are, from the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the plateaus, from the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come, Pioneers! O Pioneers!” Walt Whitman

Along a sun-beaten highway in western Colorado, there’s a tiny town, proud of one thing: its peaches. The farmers here claim to rival Georgia for the title of “World’s Best Peaches,” and say that the reason for their peaches’ properties is the crazy Colorado climate: the drop in temperature at night combined with the heat of the day spikes the fruit’s sugar content. And baby, baby, are they good.

“A crystal clear Colorado sky opens above us, a blue so deep it makes you dizzy. The occasional bright white wispy cloud dances across the firmament, punctuating the deep blue vault of heaven stretching over this paradise.” Neil M. Hanson, Pilgrim Wheels: Reflections of a Cyclist Crossing America

In western Colorado, there’s a village-in-a-mountain-bowl. It sits, surrounded by peaks; it’s full of sharp rock, wildflowers, and icy rivers. It’s got a main street that sits at a 45-degree angle, and so much sunshine that you’d think you mis-calculated your landing locale.

In this place, the sky is bright blue and the vibes are great. Tourists mosey the streets eating ice cream, and residents head to the library for Free Movie Night. Everyone—locals and non-locals alike–hits up the hot springs pools to swim. Deer wander through people’s yards, gnawing on grass next to oblivious kids. Here, the beer flows and burgers sizzle. Colorado, baby.

“I’ll fly on a plane and people will look out the window at thirty thousand feet and say, ‘Isn’t this view good enough for you?’ And I say no, it’s not good enough. I didn’t earn it. In the mountains, I earn it.” Mark Obmascik, author of Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled and Knuckleheaded-Quest for the Rocky Mountain High