The fall colors around Ridgway, Colorado, provide the perfect opportunity to take in the beauty of the changing seasons and are a must-see! Here are some recommendations for beautiful places nearby to leaf peep.
When is the Best Time to Leaf Peep?
When the days start to become a little shorter and the temperature a little cooler, you know it’s time for leaf peeping! Leaf peeping is a delightful term that refers to the art of taking in the beauty of fall foliage. And Colorado is a popular place to leaf peep as the expansive vistas transform into vivid yellows, golds, oranges, and reds.
Many areas around Ridgway are perfect to get your dosage of beautiful fall colors. But the big question many ask – when is the best time to come out to visit? It does depend on the year, but typically, you can expect the leaves around Ridgway to change in mid-September and last through the beginning of October.
Places to Check out:
When planning your leaf-peeping trip to Ridgway, consider adding one or two of these locations to your trip.
The Dallas Divide, just west of Ridgway, is one of the premier locations to check out and photograph the colorful fall foliage. This is a high mountain pass that serves as the geological divide between the San Juan Mountains and the Uncompahgre Plateau.
During this easy drive, you’ll be able to see Mt. Sneffels, a prominent fourteener. Mt. Sneffels is a beautiful sight in any season, but catching it when the valley is lit up with yellow and orange hues in the fall is truly spectacular. There are great viewpoints off of CO-62, just be mindful that it can be very crowded during peak fall colors.
Owl Creek Pass
Owl Creek Pass is a gorgeous mountain pass about an hour east of Ridgway. If you’re looking for some beautiful fall foliage and grand mountain views, this is a pass you need to visit. You’ll drive through the San Juan Mountains filled with color-changing aspen trees and unique rock structures. If you liked John Wayne’s “True Grit,” then you’ll also like this drive as several scenes were shot in this mountain pass, including the famous face-down with Robert Duval.
This pass is fairly accessible to all vehicle types, but it can get a little rugged, so we recommend a higher profile, four-wheel drive vehicle.
Last Dollar Road
Taking the paved highway between Telluride and Ridgway, you’ll be sure to catch some changing colors. But if you want to leaf peep a bit off the beaten path, you’d be remiss not to check out Last Dollar Road.
This 18-mile stretch of unpaved roads offers sweeping views of gold-speckled mountainsides. The route winds through aspen and spruce-fir forests, with breaks in the trees that offer clear spots of panoramic views of the San Juans, including Wilson Peak and the Sneffels range. Like Owl Creek Pass, it’s recommended to use a high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle.
Million Dollar Highway
For one of the best places to view fall colors in Colorado, you need to take a drive through the Million Dollar Highway. As you wind your way through the San Juan Mountains, the aspen, oak, and maple leaves create a truly breathtaking mosaic of colors. The road twists and turns through steep cliffs and narrow passes, offering awe-inspiring views of vivid colors on the rugged terrain.
Visitors can stop at designated pullouts along the way to take in the views and capture the fall colors on your camera.
The Gondola in Telluride
If you want 360-degree views of the fall foliage, look no further than the Telluride Mountain Village Gondola. The 13-minute ride up to the top will showcase the stunning fall colors all around the mountains. The gondola is free to the public and worth a ride, especially if you’re wanting to get out of the car and enjoy the splendor of fall. Just note that the gondola undergoes maintenance periodically, so it’s best to call ahead to make sure the gondola is up and running.
Leaf peeping is a big visitor draw to Colorado, and for good reason. The colors are stunning! But when you come to visit, there are some leaf-peeping etiquette rules to abide by.
- Stick to the Trails – if you step out of the car to enjoy the views or want to take a hike to enjoy the changing colors, it’s important for visitors to stay on the trail. It might be tempting to find a new, unique spot to photograph or move to an area with fewer people, but staying on the trail will help keep the wildlife healthy for others to enjoy.
- Leave it As You Find it – Colorado’s nature is stunning, and we want to ensure our beautiful state stays beautiful. In the busy season, it’s important to park in designated areas, either in a parking space or on a paved part of the road. Also, please leave plants, rocks, and nature behind so others can experience the same joy of discovery!
- Keep Wildlife Wild – while you may be hoping to spot the cascade of yellow aspens, part of your experience may include seeing wildlife in their homes. Enjoy the cool moment, use your camera zoom, and keep the wildlife wild!
Plan Your Visit with MTN Lodge Ridgway
If you’re wanting to leaf peep around Ridgway, we invite you to stay in the MTN Lodge Ridgway. We’re located in Ridgway, Colorado, and are the perfect place to stay if you’re wanting to take a fall vacation (especially a fall vacation to catch the changing colors!). We have comfortable rooms and incredible mountain views. Let’s make your stay a memorable one.