As festival season winds down and the mountaintops begin to receive light dustings of snow, Telluride crowds begin to diminish just as the aspens begin to turn golden. We’ve always believed that the fall is Telluride’s most underutilized season. The cool crisp air is perfect for a hike up the mountain or bike ride down. 4x4 trails are open and far less crowded than during the summer.
The last big festival of the season is the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival starts September 12, and the lineup looks very promising. As a photographer, I’m looking forward to the Telluride Photo Festival at the end of the month, and while I’m not a fan of horror films, my understanding is that the Tellruide Horror Show Festival is growing every year. One festival that I’ve never attended before but want to is the Telluride Barbeque Festival, which is held on the weekend of September 20-22.
Perhaps the prettiest and most accessible road to see sweeping views of Wilson Peak and changing aspen is on Last Dollar Road. Just before the entrance to the Telluride airport is a dirt road to the right. The first several miles of this road is open to any vehicle. In my opinion, the best views are seen before hitting the true 4x4 section of the road.
While I like heading up Tomboy Road and heading over to Ouray, it’s not my favorite for fall colors. I much prefer Ophir Pass, not only for the views but because it’s the perfect time to visit Animas Forks, a well-preserved ghost town ½ hour beyond Silverton. Both Tomboy and Ophir Pass require a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle.
My absolute favorite fall hike is Snuffles Highline Trail. This trail offers beautiful views of Wilson on the west and connects with Jud Weibe on the east. Bridal Veil Basin, which connects to Silver Lake, Blue Lake, and Lewis Mine hikes is also a favorite.