Every season in Colorado could be declared our favorite here at Telluride Rentals, but with fall fast-approaching, let’s agree that today, fall in Telluride is our favorite… okay? So, picture yourself layered in your most yummy fall sweater, favorite jeans and a great pair of boots and let’s head out on the open road to take in the crisp fall air, the view of the aspens changing and our amazing snow capped peaks! Don’t forget your selection of cheese from Over the Moon and a bottle of wine from the Wine Mine- we’ll be making a few stops along the way.
Scenic Drives through Southwestern Colorado
San Juan Skyway
Jaw-dropping cliffs, dramatic scenery and autumn appearances of amber, bronze and gold define the 236 mile “Road to the Sky” as it dips into the 5-million-acre San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests and passes through the classic Colorado mountain towns of Telluride, Durango and Ouray.
Pull over for Mesa Verde National Park. Ancestral Pueblan cliff dwellings reside in the only national park dedicated solely to the works of man.
Stretch your legs in: Old West favorite Durango. Take a trip on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or relax in the nearby hot springs of Ouray.
Million Dollar Highway
The Million Dollar Highway (also part of the San Juan Skyway), or US Hwy 550, in southwestern Colorado provides spectacular views of the jagged San Juan Mountains, glimpses into Colorado’s mining past, and the real danger of avalanches. Traveling south from Ouray towards Silverton one soon drives under the snow shed covering the deadly East Riverside Slide. The road then climbs steadily past a number of historic mining structures on the way to the top of Red Mountain Pass. While the highway is kept open year-round, it’s best traveled in summer to avoid the 101 avalanche paths identified by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The highway guarantees white-knuckle moments as the route is devoid of guardrails and traverses a number of sheer cliffs. Once in Silverton, one can relax and see the trains of the Durango& Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway.
Lizard Head Pass
The drive from Dolores to Telluride, Colorado via Highway 145 is a leisurely way to enjoy views of the rugged San Juan Mountains and traverse the former Rio Grande Southern railroad route of the “Galloping Goose”. Start at the Galloping Goose train museum in Dolores and wind your way up the highway. For a side trip to see the only true geyser in Colorado, detour on Forest Service Road 535 to the Geyser Springs trailhead. After the hike, continue on Hwy 145 through the historic mining town of Rico to the top of the 10,222 ft. pass. Stop at the summit and take in all the historical markers and the view of the Mount Sneffels Range. Descending to Telluride provides even more mountain scenery. This is a great route in fall to view the changing aspen leaves contrasting with fresh snowfall.
Owl Creek Pass
This drive through the heart of the majestic Cimarron Mountains can be made in any vehicle. This particular route was once a cattle drive trail and was used extensively during the production of the movie True Grit, with John Wayne. After the summit of Owl Creek Pass, you can continue on and see SilverJack Reservoir. This is a perfect place for a morning or afternoon drive and picnic. From Telluride: It is accessed off of Ouray County Rd. 10 about 1 mile north of Ridgway. It is a dirt road and can be full of washboards. It is not maintained in the winter.
Last Dollar Road
As Last Dollar Road winds through a low valley surrounded by jagged peaks and deep-blue skies, each bend delivers jaw-dropping scenery. At one turn you’ll find yourself in a cathedral of sun-bathed aspens; at another, a flat vista with views of a quilt-like terrain of furry pines and aspens; turn again, and you’re in a wide-open grassy field, where pristine nature is the only thing between you and the San Juan Mountains. Go during the fall for unparalleled red, yellow and orange autumn leaves. Most off-road experts in the area would classify this road as a beginner to intermediate trail. Four-wheel drive is recommended. From Telluride: To begin your 2-3 hour journey, take CO 145 west approximately five miles and turn right on Last Dollar Road. You will pass the Telluride airport on your right when the road is still paved.
For more beautiful fall drives, check out Telluride Rentals Scenic Drives page.