Four Wheel Drive Trails and Scenic Byways beckon as Fall Colors Begin in Southwest Colorado!
The new season is beginning. Everywhere you look, the aspens are beginning to turn from a vibrant green to the yellows and oranges of Fall. With just a tiny bit of snow in the high country a couple of weeks ago, it seems Mother Nature has decided to grant us a long and beautiful season of colors and adventures.
Imogene Pass, Ophir and Yankee Boy Basin are teeming with activity as explorers traverse the trails and photographers pause at every switchback for that unforgettable shot.
Black Bear Pass, one of the most difficult, is closed for the season, but with so very many other options, hardly to be missed. As the color updates begin to flood in, it looks like this is the time to check out Red Mountain Pass.
September is an amazing time to journey the passes. Wildflowers are still in bloom, complimented by the beginning transformation of the foliage as nature prepares for a long winters nap. It is almost as if the countryside is rebelling against the inevitable approach of Winter.
Like the grand finale of a fireworks display, the San Juans will enter into the time of ice climbing and skiing with a final explosion of color and life.
As the evenings become more chilly, and the mornings more brisk, the weather forcast still promises days of warm sunshine and spectacular hiking and jeeping conditions. The streets are a little more quiet in town, perfect for a liesurely evening of shopping and dining, followed by a long soak in the hsoothing waters of our all natural mineral hot spring tubs.
Of course, the best part about this time of year is how very quickly everything can change. Every day is an adventure just by being. Tomorrow could be entirely different. The weather could change and completely alter the direction the season is going. Suddenly, fall will be in full bloom, with the colors peaking in every corner of the Uncompahgres. Perhaps one of the most incredible things about the Fall season in Colorado is winning the gamble, and getting here at the right time.
As always, at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, our goal is to help our guest decide when they might catch the best of the Fall colors. Every year, we scour the websites and check with our guests and take scenic drives ourselves in order to provide the most up to date information on the conditions of the four wheel drive trails, hiking trails, wildflowers and fall foliage.
The San Juan National Forest has published their first update on the colors. It looks as if Red Mountain Pass is the best bet right now to catch the beginnings of the leaves:
Estimated Percentage of Current Fall Foliage:
Durango/Purgatory – 10% aspens, 50% oakbrush on Missionary
Molas Pass - 40%
Silverton/Red Mountain Pass – 75% aspens
Pagosa –10% aspens high, 30% cottonwoods along river
Dolores/Rico – 30%
Mancos – 20%
Areas with Greatest Amount of Color / Recommended Viewing Areas:
Silverton area early this week before it's done.
Estimated Peak Viewing Period:
High country this week should be getting good.
The slightly lower areas should be the week after.
Viewing Suggestions / Tips:
4WD in Silverton and the alpine loop. Lake City to Creede. Ouray.
Trees That Are Currently Turning Color:
For More Information on Fall Colors Please Contact:
San Juan Public Lands Center, Durango (970) 247-4874
The Alpine loop is always a popular jeep adventure. You can do the entire loop, or just portions around Silverton to catch the best colors this weekend. Corkscrew, Animas Forks, Engineer, Cinnamon, Engineer, all promise to be spectacular this week, and even better next week.
Last Dollar Road, one of my favorites for viewing the Fall colors, will be a little later in the season, due to its lower altitude. The Million Dollar Highway should provide some awesome views as the week progresses, and is accessible all season.
Hiking in the fall is a marvelous way to catch early changes not visible from the roads and jeep trails. A short drive up Highway 550 to the Ghost Town of Ironton is a great way to see quite a bit. Take a picnic with you, and enjoy an afternoon surrounded by nature and all of her beauty as you explore the remains of this once prosperous mining town.
An excellent way to experience the San Juans with both hands and eyes free is to take advantage of a jeep tour. Each of our tour companies in and around Ouray are staffed by experienced, proffessional drivers with up to the minute knowledge of road conditions and ideal wildlife and color viewing. A tour in the high country in the fall promises you will never miss anything!
Let the staff at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs help to create the perfect getaway for you. From the best spots for fall colors, to up to date 4-wheel drive road conditions, to the best spot for a quiet dinner, we are here to make your stay memorable.