American Basin Engagement | Madeline and Chris

Madeline and Chris | American Basin Engagement


Savannah Chandler Photography | San Juan Mountain Engagement Photographer

The American Basin.

What a magnificent place. Somehow, existing in nature, are these amazing jagged peaks right above a stunning alpine basin that fills with wildflowers each year. Just outside of Lake City, the lower basin is accessible by 2wd vehicles. Having a 4×4 will grant you direct access to the upper basin which is where the trailhead for Handies Peak sits.

When Madeline and Chris decided on the basin for their Colorado engagement photographs – I knew they’d absolutely LOVE the area. Neither of them had been to this area of the San Juan mountains yet. We decided on sunrise (which is my personal favorite time of day in the high country) and that we’d meet up in Silverton to make the drive over Cinnamon Pass together in the dark.

Cinnamon Pass is mild on the Lake City side – however, coming from Silverton requires a 4×4 vehicle capable of climbing over some rocks that sit on a shelf road. Knowing that their vehicle would have some trouble, we met up at Grouse Gulch trailhead and took my Jeep over the pass at 3am in the complete darkness. Madeline and Chris wanted to hike the spectacular Handies Peak after their shoot, and they could make a loop to meet back up at their car at Grouse Gulch – which worked out amazingly.

After a little white knuckling over the pass, we arrived into the basin just as blue hour was starting to give way to the sun breaking the horizon. We had the clearest Colorado skies, which always makes for an amazing display of Alpenglow on the mountaintops. American Peak turned an amazing full red right as we began photographing down near the river.

We made our way around the basin, making sure to walk on foot paths and dirt ways as to not damage any of these amazing wildflowers. Remember that photographs and angles can be deceiving – leave no trace when you’re in areas with fragile tundra and wildflowers.

Once we were done photographing, Madeline and Chris headed up the trail to hike Handies Peak. Both of them are avid mountain hikers, and Chris is a legit mountain and alpine climber. No climbing necessary on this amazing Class 1 14er, but in my opinion, you picked the prettiest peak in all of Colorado to hike up and conclude your morning.

I had an absolutely AMAZING time adventuring around the American Basin with you, Madeline and Chris. I can’t wait to see all the photographs from your California wedding <3

Cheers –

Savannah Chandler Photography | Telluride Engagement Photographer | San Juan Mountain Adventure Photographer | Based in Denver, Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide

Photographing across the Rocky Mountain Region: Telluride |Aspen | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray | Arapahoe Basin | Silverton | Silverthorne | Spanish Peaks

Interested in seeing all the different locations that the San Juan mountains have to offer? Click HERE to see my location suggestions!

Leave a Comment

Recent Colorado Weddings


Colorado – my home for the past 34 years and counting.  My family were Pioneers from Norway and Germany to Colorado in the 1880’s.  I think it’s pretty amazing that our family has always had an interest in photography and capturing moments.  Growing up seeing photographs of our family in covered wagons on their way to Colorado is one of my fondest memories.
  Truly, I love Colorado and the amazing mountain ranges throughout.  I grew up heading into the Mountains on weekends to hike in the summer, and to snowboard in the winter.  I’m hapy to say that not much has changed, I’ve just added a husband and child into my adventerous outdoor mix.  My husband and I now take our little man out into the wilderness that Colorado has to offer, hoping to fill his young life with amazing memories and experiences.
I hosted my wedding in Evergreen, Colorado in May of 2011 at the Evergreen Lake House  .  After our wedding day,  I knew that I wanted to be a Colorado Wedding Photographer.  I was attending Metropolotian State University of Denver for fine art photography at the time, and the transition into a Wedding Photographer was fairly seamless.
I love adventuring to new places for weddings and elopements!  I hike regularly, and love showing couples my favorite spots.  There are amazing places in every corner and in every season.  Snowboarding is also a passion of mine, and I LOVE to capture couples shredding Pow Pow down the mountain.  Interested in a Colorado Hiking or Adventure Elopement?  Contact us on the form below!  Every year I have a list of locations that have special prices for couples wanting to hike, I’d love to chat about my current list!


Awesome Colorado Wedding Vendors

One of the great things about being based here in Colorado is getting to work with some of the best wedding vendors! Here are some of my very favorite places and people to work with. They're all awesome. Almost as awesome as the views we have here across the continental divide... almost.

Venues: Strawberry Creek Ranch in Granby, Colorado
               TimberRidge and Alpenglow Stube in Keystone, Colorado
               Wild Basin Lodge in Allenspark, Colorado
               SkyView at Fall River Village in Estes Park, Colorado 
Planners: Sweetly Paired
Videographers: Whitney Milton
Florists:  Olive and Poppy

Review from Jenna and Chris

"Savannah is the most AMAZING photographer!!! I would recommend her a thousand times over again. I would plan another event just to use her again! She is incredibly professional and incredibly talented!!! Best vendor/photographer/professional I have ever worked with."

Check out Jenna and Chris' Estes Park, Wedding Day HERE

Review from Ashley and Aaron

"Savannah is an amazing person and photographer! She captured our wedding in every way we could imagaine. Looking back on the pictures she took makes us remember and feel those special moments. Savannah is very professional but at the same time will help load up carseats and offer a helping hand wherever she can. She is very knowledgeable from locations to take pictures to making us feel comfortable in directions to pose. We have nothing but good things to say. We definitely reccomend Savannah Chandler!"

Click HERE to see Ashley and Aaron's Estes Park, Colorado Wedding Day!

Review from Katie and Brad

Savannah was so great and managed to make us (two awkward people) feel super comfortable and thrilled about wedding photos. :) She saved our day with her flexibility and the pictures were better than we could've ever hoped for! Highly recommend!

Check out Katie and Brad's Boulder, Colorado Wedding Day HERE

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Wedding Photographer | Colorado Mountain Wedding Photographer

Photographing in the Rocky Mountain Region, Including: Keystone, Aspen, Breckenridge, Estes Park, Twin Lakes, Leadville, Silverton, Telluride, Durango, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Larkspur, Steamboat, San Luis, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Winter Park, Granby, and the Spanish Peaks.