Photographs of open-air cremation in Colorado

As eco-minded baby boomers age, they’re seeking alternatives to modern funerals.

  • The Crestone End of Life Project’s crematory is as efficient as crematories found in ordinary mortuaries. On average, about one third of a cord of wood is burned in a process that takes roughly two hours.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • Before the fire is ignited, community members are asked to participate by laying pieces of fresh-cut juniper around and on top of their loved one. Later, the fragments left are given to the family to keep or scattering what is left of the deceased.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • Community members put fresh cut juniper on the fire, partly to ensure fuel to the fire and to ensure a pleasant smell fills the air.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • After the fire masters or family members ignite the crematory with juniper, the community watches in silence. After about 20 minutes of quiet, the ceremony continues with speeches, music, singing and poetry in a celebration of life and remembrance.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • Community members waft a mixture of burning wood and juniper smoke onto themselves as part of the ceremony.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • A community member waves his final goodbye before exiting the cremation site.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • The deceased's husband gives his final goodbye to his wife before exiting the cremation site.

    Taylor McIntosh
  • Built up soot remains on the walls of the crematory just above a side vent. The structure is made of concrete and brick and was first used to cremate a community member in January 2008.

    Taylor McIntosh