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Leaf Peeping in Telluride's Gold Season

Friday • September 23, 2016

Fall is upon us.

The air is crisp and is foreshadowing the arrival of early season snows.  With the changing of the season comes the changing of the color palette in Telluride, gold season!  It has been a few weeks since Old Yellow, the lone aspen tree on the hillside of town historically the first to debut its gold, turned.  The rest of the aspen family is following suit. 

Gold season is well underway in the San Juans and in Telluride. 


Our mountainsides are speckled with paint strokes of gold, orange and red, and some remnants of bright green.  The colored leaves of the aspen trees tucked amongst the dark green of the pines are a striking work of nature’s art.  Now is the time to capture the moment in your memories and with your camera lens.   

This is the time for leaf peeping! 



There is certainly no lack of places to go to experience this transformation.  The challenge is catching it before the aspen groves succumb to the elements and shed their leaves.  To narrow the search for that perfect leaf peep show, here are few of our favorite spots.  

For those who prefer to undertake their leaf peeping from the comfort of their vehicles, buckle up.



Last Dollar Road not only offers striking scenes of colorful aspens, but also boasts sweeping views of both the Sneffels range and Wilson Peak.  If you have a hardy 4 wheel drive vehicle and an adventurous spirit, venture up Tomboy Road.  This dirt road from Town of Telluride to the abandoned mining town of Tomboy features outlooks onto the ski area hillside, town and Bridal Veil Falls.  If you dare to proceed further up the road, you can head above tree line and drive all the way to the summit of Imogene Pass, but be aware that this takes some 4 wheeling skills and always mind the weather.   




For the lake enthusiasts, the drive up to Alta Lakes is a yellow brick road of aspens.  Your destination’s reward is a dramatic picture of Palmyra Peak, standing tall at 13,470 feet, its surrounding jagged ridgelines, as well as three alpine lakes. 




If your prefer to peep from your feet, our backyard of hiking trails is plentiful.

The Jud Wiebe trail is a short loop above town and favorite locals hike, which winds through the thick of aspen groves.  The bonus at the top of this trail is vast view of the valley, including ski runs with bright aspen colors peppered in between pines, and those in Bear Creek. 



If you want to make a day of your peeping, the Sneffels Highline Trail offers miles and miles of panoramas, aspens and high alpine terrain.  Don’t under estimate the distance and time needed to tackle this trail.  If you have it in you, this might be one of the best hikes to absorb every kind of landscape.  




For those who are low on time or energy, all you really have to do is come to town.  

A stroll along the river trail towards Bridal Veil Falls will provide plenty of gold eye candy.  Walk towards the Valley Floor and past Chair 7, where you will find a large patch of aspens nestled on the slope hillside.  




For a birds eye view, ride our Gondola and take in the sights from high above town.   

Whatever your peeping pleasure may be, you can indulge it in Telluride! 

But don’t delay, Mother Nature and its aspen groves have their own agenda and its easy to miss out on the spectacular display of gold season.