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thumbnail Fire-damaged forest near Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado
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Fire-damaged forest near Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado © Peter Essick/Aurora Photos
Wolf Creek Pass is a high-mountain route that’s notoriously difficult to navigate in winter, with steep drops in elevation as the road descends from the peak. While these trees were damaged by wildfire—always a threat here in the Rockies—trees in the surrounding forest have been ravaged by a different menace—the spruce beetle. The tiny but deadly beetles have infested up to 90 percent of the Englemann spruce trees in Colorado’s high elevations, including around Wolf Creek Pass, laying waste to large swaths of the forest.