I think your first photo will have great appeal simply because the landscape is so different -- it's almost Martian in quality. It appears to be quite hazy with relatively flat lighting, and as a result the range of tones is not very great. For me personally, that kind of light works best when there is a foreground element that is sharply defined and relatively unaffected by the haze. I like the contrast between the foreground and background in those situations, and it gives me a hint as to what everything in the background is really like if only I were closer. The key, though, is a good foreground element, and those are often difficult to find. It's the same as photographing in fog, and that's just my personal preference (offered only as food for thought).
I can understand your attraction to the second photo -- those aspens (I assume) are beautiful. If only they could be shown more clearly and free of surrounding distractions (primarily the dead branches on the left, and the fact that we can't see where the trees connect to the earth).