Lots of great comments in this thread. A couple of points that jump out at me. Someone mentioned using a tripod, and you mentioned that yours, "slowed me down". That is a good thing! Spend more time. Read books by John Shaw. He suggests you work the scene, have your composition well in mind, the angles you intend to shoot at, the exposure settings you intend to try, etc. Then set up your tripod.
Before you click the shutter button, Shaw suggests you ask yourself, "Why am I taking this shot?" What exactly is the subject? What is the impact I want to the photograph to have on anyone who looks at it?
That leads me to comment on something that is not easy for me to describe, and that is emotion. (Re-read a comment by Rich Desmond above, esp. his final paragraph)
You describe your passion for the Colorado area near your home that you visit often to photograph. The challenge for you and all of us is to separate our own passion for a scene from the emotions of whomever it may be who views our photos. It is true you own passion is key. It is that passion that drives you to take the photo. But, what about my emotion. I may never have been to the location of your photo. I was not there since before dawn waiting to catch that perfect light. I do not hear any birds or see any coyotes lurking about. Now, can your photo that I look at in the comfort of my living room far from Colorado evoke the same emotions in me? Am I looking at a "Wow" photograph? Does that location of where you took the photo really matter or is it the photograph by itself that makes me marvel. Can I in turn wow you with a photograph I take on the beach within a mile from my home in Massachusetts?
For example, lets take a famous photo taken by Ansel Adams. Do I really have to know that those falls I am looking at is in Yosemite? I might indeed take interest to know where the falls are so I can go take a look in person, but that is not what makes it a great photo. It is the composition, the lighting, the angles, and yes, the majesty of the place and all the things that went into producing the final image which for certain included darkroom editing that make that a "wow" photo.
Books by John Shaw, Bryan Peterson, Rob Sheppard have helped me, but also I have taken courses online where experts critique my images of a weekly assignment. These get me out to areas close to home to take pictures, use and learn about my camera, too, but not dwell too much on the make of my camera or the price of the lens, but to concentrate and learn what are the elements that go into producing "wow" images on our own. Some of my best images have been taken only a few feet from my front door, and someone else looking at them would not know. The location is not important, it is the image itself!
Here is a quote I like. (I forget where I read it, probably John Shaw). Probably not a direct quote, but nevertheless.....
"Do not just take a picture, make a photograph!"