Fabulous Fall Color...there's still time!

Fabulous Fall Color...there's still time!


 “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go” ~ unknown


Fall in the Rockies is a spectacular time of year but if you blink, you may miss it! It’s already October and while most of the northern and middle regions of Colorado are now past their peak color changes…if you’re fretting over having missed it, you still have time, but you’ll need to head south. Here are some tips for chasing Colorado’s kaleidoscope of color in late autumn:

  • Generally speaking the further south in Colorado you drive, the later in fall the leaf colors will change. For example, the color changes might peak in Summit County area in mid-September but the forests of southwestern Colorado around the areas of Pagosa Springs and Durango, won’t likely peak until a whole month later in mid-October.
  • Weather patterns and conditions can vary (sometimes greatly) in Colorado from year to year. Some fall seasons are definitely chillier than others here in the Centennial state so generally the warmer September has been…the later you can expect to see fall color changes throughout the state.



Head to Colorado’s southwestern region from now until mid-October to enjoy the colors of the San Juan National Forest. According to the U.S. Forest Service, here is a rundown on the current fall color conditions in that region as of October 3rd. Grab a map and check out these drives:

Areas that are near peak color as of October 2, 2022

Purgatory to Coal Bank
Telluride to Ouray (Dallas Divide)
Missionary Ridge


Areas with partial color change as of October 2, 2022

Durango to Purgatory
Mancos Area
Dolores to Rico
Rico to Telluride


Areas that may peak closer to mid-October

Pagosa Springs
La Plata Canyon

For the most up-to-date reports, click this link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sanjuan/home/?cid=stelprd3854716



Telluride is without a doubt our most favorite mountain town in the state. Tucked into a box canyon and surrounded on all sides by the incredible San Juan Mountains, this former Victorian mining town is a premier skiing destination in winter and a breathtakingly beautiful place to hike and explore in the summer and fall. Well-known for its lively summertime festivals, the town also hosts some fabulous fall festivals (with way less crowds!) such as the Horror Show (October 14-16) which is Colorado’s longest-running horror film festival. September and October offer a feast for the eyes with spectacular fall foliage where visitors can hike, bike or jeep along old mining roads of the region. For more information visit www.telluride.com

 Recommended Fall Foliage Hiking Trails Near Telluride:

  • Deep Creek Trail
  • Bear Creek Falls
  • Eider Creek Trail


Perhaps not as well-known as it’s popular neighboring town of Telluride, Ouray is a hidden gem also located in the spectacular San Juans. This high alpine town sits at almost 7,800 feet in elevation and has earned the beloved nickname, Switzerland of America for good reason—surrounded on three sides by rugged, steep mountains, this picturesque town is situated in the heart of the San Juan Mountains off of Highway 550. It was named after Chief Ouray of the native Ute Indian tribe in the region. One could easily spend an autumn weekend, hiking through the beautiful Pines and Aspen-filled forests of the area and afterward, treat overworked muscles to a soak in the Ouray Hot Springs. For more information visit www.visitouray.com

Recommended Fall Foliage Hiking Trails Near Ouray:

  • Blue Lakes and Blue Lakes Pass
  • Bear Creek National Recreation Trail
  • Oak Creek


A few years ago while driving southwest along U.S. Highway 160, my son and I drove over Wolf Creek Pass and were rewarded on the other side with an explosion of amazing fall color! It was mid-October and I thought for sure we had missed all of the color changes in Colorado so it was the most pleasant surprise to still see a forest popping with spectacular golden and flaming orange Aspens. And nestled just to the southwest of Wolf Creek Pass is the lovely town of Pagosa Springs sitting at 7,126 feet above sea level. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of gorgeous San Juan National Forest, the town is located in what is known as the Colorado Sunbelt just 35 miles north of the New Mexico border. The name comes from the Southwestern Ute word “Pagosah” which means “healing waters”…especially appropriate because of the natural geo-thermal hot springs containing therapeutic mineral-rich waters. Early to mid-October is a wonderful time to experience the splendid array of fall colors of this region. For more information, visit www.visitpagosasprings.com

Recommended Fall Foliage Hiking Trails Near Pagosa Springs:

  • Fourmile Falls
  • Opal Lake
  • Poison Park


Resting in Colorado’s most southwestern region, the historic town of Durango is an outdoor lovers paradise all year ‘round however fall is one of the best times to visit to enjoy scenic drives and hiking among golden Aspens. You can also enjoy glorious fall foliage and stunning mountain vistas aboard the historic Durango & Narrow Gauge Railroad where a steam-powered engine winds through the San Juan National Forest. Chilly autumn evenings can be spent soaking in the area’s natural hot springs at the Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa and those with an interest in history can enjoy a tour at the Mesa Verde National Park to learn about the fascinating 700+ year history and lives of the ancestral Pueblo people of the region. If you’re there this month check out the Animas Valley Balloon Rally (October 15-17). For more information, visit www.durango.org 

Recommended Fall Foliage Hiking Trails Near Durango:

  • Columbine Lake & Pass
  • Hermosa Creek Trail
  • Engineer Mountain


Autumn is part of the reason this state is known as Colorful Colorado. Now get out and enjoy it! Pack your bags and your hiking gear and head south to grab some final glimpses of Colorado’s Autumn. There’s no time like the present. ~ KM 


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