Fall Colors are still Awesome in the San Juan Mountains!
After posting the most recent color update from the San Juan National Forest, it seemed only reasonable to go out and see for ourselves. The weather was cooperating, and the roads calling, so, jumping in the jeep, we began our adventure.
Driving the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton was, as always, breathtakingly beautiful, even though the colors are past peak. Still, driving past groves of aspen that have lost most of their leaves is a marvelous precursor to the colors on the other side of the mountain.
Having enjoyed a leisurely lunch in Silverton, and adding a little gas to ensure a pressure free day of exploring, we headed back to the Ophir Pass entrance.
Quickly, the landscape began to change, and suddenly, we were gazing at mountaintops covered in the first blanket of snow.
At the top, one last twist in the trail offered an amazing view of reds and golds in the valley below. Standing in a sudden flurry of snow, perhaps, the pictures were taken a little quickly.
Traveling through a forest of trees shedding leaves in a surreal display, it was difficult to remember to click the camera, the rainbow of Fall surrounding us in its peaceful beauty.
Jumping on Highway 145 for just a short time, we opted to drive Last Dollar Road, and were rewarded with more spectacular scenery with every mile. Turning back at one point, the contrasts of color were a sight to behold. As we returned to the highway at the base of Dallas Divide, we still had not had enough.
Taking County Road 17 back to Ouray, once again, colors burst at every turn, and quickly, the decision was made to make the most of the daylight left to us and we turned onto Camp Bird Mine Road for yet another breathtaking display of Mother Nature.
Deer on the mountainside paused as we gasped at their magnificence, obviously taking for granted the scenery around them. Just a few miles up the road, just after a rock overhang, we decided to turn back, and found ourselves caught in a storm of leaves as the wind blew colors across the road in a dance to music we could not hear.
Traveling back toward Ouray, it was obvious that although winter is definitely gazing hungrily at the high country, there are still so many roads to explore and sights to see.
Back at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, a long soak in the soothing mineral hot springs was the perfect way to enhance our appetites for a delicious meal in one of the great restaurants on Main Street, before heading back for a movie and relaxation.
A day in Ouray County and the surrounding area is always an adventure. Whether you choose to drive the back roads, hike the Perimeter Trail, rappel through a waterfall, or climb an ice filled gorge, the adventure never stops, and the days are still long enough to enjoy many activities.