The Majestic Fall Color Season in the San Juan Mountains

The wood vine is one of the earliest high country plants to change color. Our vine is bright red and is a predictor of things to come in the next few weeks. Artist, photographers and nature lovers find their way to The San Juan Mountains for the beauty and inspiration. Join us in September and October for this magic display of nature.

Return to The Journal often as we cover the color change with tips, maps, locations and our prediction for “primetime” colors.

003Scenic visitors be aware, there are armed hunters in the woods and you need to take precautions.  It is safer to hike in the noon to afternoon hours. It is a good idea to stop by a sporting goods shop and purchase an inexpensive orange vest. If there are hunters at the trailhead or along the trail introduce yourselves and make them aware of your hiking plans.

When driving the back-roads remember there is going to be heavy traffic as both scenery viewers and hunters move about. Watch for ATV riders on the roads and keep an eye in the rear view mirror view.

Go to The Weather for full fall foliage and weather needs.

Date: 9/23/13

Estimated Percentage of Current Fall Foliage:
Durango – 0%
Molas Pass – 15%
Silverton/Red Mountain Pass – 25% aspens
Pagosa – 5%
Dolores/Rico – 5%
Mancos – 0%

Areas with Greatest Amount of Color / Recommended Viewing Areas:
The best area right now would be the alpine loop on the Lake City side.  They are at 40+%.
Reports so far elsewhere are just a touch in most places.
Next weekend (Sept. 28-29) should be better…
Silverton/Lake City/Red Mountain Pass areas and above. 10,000 to 12,000 feet should be getting good.

Estimated Peak Viewing Period:
High country this week and next weekend (Sept 21-22).
Other passes/ high elevation aspen groves.

Viewing Suggestions / Tips:
4WD in Silverton and the alpine loop. Lake City to Creede.

Trees That Are Currently Turning Color:
Aspens, grasses, willows and low scrub oak.

For More Information on Fall Colors Please Contact:
San Juan Public Lands Center, Durango (970) 247-4874

Rocky Mountain Region Fall Color page link
National Forest Service Color Finder page link

Preview of Pagosa’s Fall Colors

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All photos taken from forest access roads

See downtown Pagosa during fall 

See article on aspen, a hiking / driving  map 

Quartz Ridge in the distance from Nipple Mtn. Road

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Pagosa Springs is uniquely located in the high mountains while being on the edge between mountains and high mesa country to the south. This shot from Mill Creek Road looks south.

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