Fall in the Colorful San Juan Mountains
One of our favorite routes this time of year is the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway that travels a 236-mile loop through Southwest Colorado from Ouray to Telluride, through Dolores and Durango and back along Highway 550 from Silverton. Stay a few days with us and explore all there is to do along the loop. At the end of each day, come home to Ouray for delicious food, delightful shopping and a relaxing soak in our sulfur-free hot springs.
Fall colors abound along the route and you're guaranteed to see some spectacular aspen patches anytime between mid-September and mid-October, depending on the weather conditions and your elevation. Some of our favorite stops for photos are along the Dallas Divide between Ridgway and Telluride, on Lizard Head Pass between Rico and Dolores and on Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain Passes along Highway 550. Make sure to stop at Ironton for a fall ghost town hike through the aspens.
If you're looking for a great fall hike or bike ride, we'd recommend any section of the Dallas Trail system that starts in Ouray and continues through Ridgway into Telluride. Make it a multi-day trek and stay in one of the cozy San Juan Huts. The Weehawken Trail along Camp Bird Road and the Richmond/Full Moon loop in Ironton Park are spectacular in the fall. The Ridgway Area Trails feature great views and some major fun among conifers and aspens on their mountain bike trails.
No matter which road you choose to travel, always leave with a full tank of gas, some good layers, a picnic and a camera.
Your fall color journey is about to begin!
Exploring the 4x4 Side of Fall
The 4x4 & OHV season is still in full swing! Aside from a few temporary, weekday closures on Hwy 550 between Ouray and Silverton, all other roads in the area remain open for your fall-color off-roading adventures. Here are two of our favorite full day, off-road itineraries that are not affected by the road work:
* Ouray to Yankee Boy Basin and Governor’s Basin. Then take Imogene Pass to Telluride and come home via Last Dollar Road and Ridgway.
* Ouray to Ridgway and over Owl Creek Pass to Silverjack Reservoir. Come home through the beautiful aspen groves of the Cimarrons and stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park outside of Montrose on your way home.
Find more details about these trails here. If you don't feel like driving, contact one of our local Jeep tour companies also provide comfortable and relaxing tours into the area that give you the added bonus of a great commentary about the natural and mining history in the area.
Ouray continues to offer many special events throughout the fall that will enhance your visit to the area. Whether you love live music, arts and culture, history or live theater, here is a sample of the fun events happening in Ouray this fall! For a complete list of events, click here to visit our online calendar.
Experience history and heritage at one of our local museums. Fall highlights include the annual quilt show at the Ouray County Historical Society, Railroad Days at the Ridgway Railroad Museum, True Grit Film History Tours on Fridays in Ridgway and the Sneffels Fiber Fest at the historic Ouray County Fairgrounds in late September.
Fall Travel Impacts
This month crews will be working to improve stretches of Hwy 550 between Ouray and Silverton, which may result in some weekday travel delays along the highway. Never fear: all other routes to Ouray and some of our best 4x4 & OHV trails are still accessible!
See the map of alternate routes to Ouray below. A bonus of the alternate route is beautiful views along the San Juan Scenic Skyway!
Remarkably, two-thirds of Ouray's original Victorian structures, are still occupied, and have been lovingly restored in order to preserve their turn-of-the-century charm.