Anderson Design Group's founder, Joel Anderson, took a late-October trip to Colorado to visit ADG artist-collaborator, Kenneth Crane. As ADG's Creative Director, Joel takes several trips per year to visit iconic travel destinations across the U.S., seeking inspiration for new art and meeting with ADG artist-collaborators along the way. On this trip, Joel hung out with his buddy and collaborating artist, Kenneth Crane—a Colorado native. (In the photo below: Kenneth is on the left, Joel is on the right on top of Pikes Peak.)
In just a few short days in the Centennial State, Joel and Kenneth drove to the top of Pikes Peak, hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, and collaborated on new art designs, ideas, and creative projects.
Day #1: Pikes Peak
On his first day in Colorado, Joel met up with Kenneth, and the pair traveled to Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's 58 mountains over 14,000 feet above sea level (called "14ers").
Pikes Peak, often referred to as America's Mountain, is the only 14er in Colorado where one can drive a car to the summit.
On the drive, Joel viewed the stunning scenery and panoramas that developed as Kenneth wound their vehicle up the twisting mountain two-lane.
Once at the top, the pair enjoyed stunning 360-degree views of the Southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Inside the Visitor Center, they enjoyed donuts, a stroll around the museum, and a quick stop into the gift shop where Kenneth posed next to his poster (which is for sale at the top of Pikes Peak!)
Day #2: Rocky Mountain National Park
As Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the only parks in Colorado Joel hadn't been to yet, it was a must to visit the park on this trip. Further, harsh weather had prevented Joel from seeing this park on two previous trips to Colorado, so Joel figured his luck would win out on this attempt.
And third time's a charm, because Joel and Kenneth spent Day #2 hiking two iconic trails in RMNP.
In the morning, the pair hiked a stunning alpine trail that was surprisingly snow-packed and icy, which created stunning visual depictions of frozen lakes, ice-covered rocks, and snow-packed drifts.
In the afternoon, the pair hiked a lower-elevation trail, a path which meandered through a meadow and alongside bare aspen trees and other foliage. (Unfortunately for Joel, the aspens had already peaked in a riot of golden splendor a few weeks earlier.)
Day #3: Kenneth's Studio Tour and New Art Discussions
On Joel's last day in Colorado, he swung by Kenneth's art studio, where he got to witness first-hand Kenneth's artistic process and how the young artist manages to create such compelling renditions that reflect movement, mystery, and a unique way of viewing the National Parks and other iconic travel destinations.
Direct from Joel
We got to sit down with Joel briefly to ask him about his takeaways from the trip:
ADG: Why did you pick a Colorado trip and Rocky Mountain National Park?
Joel: Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the only parks I've never been to in Colorado. Also, I wanted to meet with Kenneth and discuss new art projects for 2023. (Pssst! We are planning to produce a coffee table book featuring Kenneth's poster art, photography, and field notes about the little things people should look for in each of the 63 National Parks.)
ADG: How much time do you reckon folks need to get the full RMNP experience?
Joel: You need 2-3 days to do all there is to do. Three days would be ideal because then you can travel further into the park and explore some of the higher-elevation areas. But the park is well set up in that many trails start right at the parking lot and give you an excellent depiction of the park. If you only have one day, go to the Bear Lake Trailhead. It will take you to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake. That one hike alone is worth the trip!
ADG: What advice do you have for people who are going to that region? Maybe something you know now that you didn’t know before?
Joel: I was surprised by how much snow and ice there was... in October! It made some of the trails difficult to navigate, so if folks visit the park any time after late-September, I recommend taking the right equipment for walking/climbing through snow-pack and ice. RMNP is also great for wildflowers in June and July and stunning golden-yellow aspen leaf colors in early to mid-September. The National Park Service puts out excellent updates each year on the peak season for wildflowers and leaf color, so folks should keep an eye on the NPS press releases and social media posts as they plan their visit. Also, we went to the park on a Saturday, and even with the cold weather, snow, and ice, it was still pretty packed. I recommend visiting the park on a weekday to avoid big crowds.
ADG: What other parks do you compare RMNP to? Which parks offer similar experiences?
Joel: Grand Teton National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park are similar to RMNP in many ways, though those two are arguably more accessible.
ADG: What stood out most from your trip to the park? What was most inspiring to you about it?
Joel: The alpine lakes and the backdrop of mountains behind them, with the ice sheet on the water creating reflections, plus the sparkle from the fresh snow powder, was amazing. It inspired me to make new poster art with ice and snow on the alpine lakes, as such an environment makes these beautiful locations look entirely different than they do during the summer.
ADG: And what about your trip up Pikes Peak? What was most inspiring about that?
Joel: The drive was stunning, especially since I got to be the passenger! There's nothing like driving in the mountains. And did you know people run marathons to the top of Pikes Peak and back? Stunning. When we got to the top, I was amazed at how far the eye could see. It was like the horizon never ended and the world went on forever. To top it all off, I had an encounter with Bigfoot inside the Visitor Center!
ADG: Sounds incredible, Joel! We look forward to seeing the art that you and the team create from it.
Joel: I'm looking forward to taking pencil, pen, and paint brush to paper and getting started! I have some great ideas for new art thanks to that trip.
Make 2023 the Year of Travel, Inspiration, and Joy
2023 may have just begun, but ADG has big plans for new releases, art designs, illustrations, products, and more. And to garner inspiration for the art that drives it all, virtually everyone on the ADG team has plans to travel to various locations across the country and the world.
We hope you'll plan a trip this year too. Winter and spring is the perfect time to start planning. If you need a little inspiration to get you started, the 63 Illustrated National Parks, American Travel, and World Travel collections are full of travel-inspired original illustrations and renderings of some of this world's most iconic destinations.
Hope to see you on the trails,
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer