Finding wildflowers is not difficult around or even in Telluride, but during my seven years in Telluride, I’ve developed a few favorite places to view and take pictures of wildflowers. For me, the best places are a bit less visited and offer beautiful backgrounds that I can use to frame pictures.
Last Dollar Road
Last Dollar Road turns into a dirt road right after the airport, but it is totally accessible with a regular car for several miles after that. The best wildflowers are higher up where a 4WD vehicle with clearance is recommended. However, the lower elevations (relatively speaking) offer dramatic views of Wilson Peak, rolling meadows, picturesque old barns and fencing, and the occasional horse in the fields.
Deep Creek - Sneffels Highline Trail
In my opinion, this is the highest reward to work ratio for a hike in the Telluride region. Drive up the road across from the Shell station on the valley floor. The road will take off about 1,000 feet of fairly boring elevation gain. Most cars can make it up this road. At the top, you can park close to the water plant.
After hiking roughly 30 minutes up the Deep Creek Trail, you will be rewarded with a beautiful meadow filled with flowers and framed with aspens, fir trees, and the mountains. Keep on the trail for another 30 minutes (take signs to the Snuffels Highline trail) and the trail will open up to expansive views of Wilson Peak and the surrounding area. The Snuffels trail continues to head up to higher Alpine meadows and the trail goes up and over the ridgeline and ultimately intersects with Jud Wiebe. To do an entire loop, it takes 6-8 hours, but the 1st hour is beautiful hike.
You definitely need a high clearance 4WD vehicle to drive over Imogene Pass, but it is well worth it for wildflower viewing. For those who want someone else to drive, there are great tours available. If your goal is to see the most wildflowers, the drive down from the top of the pass into Ouray offers your best choices. The Telluride side of the pass has more mine ruins.
Silver Lake – Bridal Veil Basin
When I’m out looking to take pictures of wildflowers, I’m also looking for beautiful backgrounds to frame the picture. Silver Lake is about as good as it gets, but it is a bit challenging to get to. This is about a 90 minutes hike up (sometimes straight up!) from the Bridal Veil power plant.
Alternatively, hiking up Bridal Veil Basin offers an abundance of wildflowers and waterfalls, and is a doable for the entire family.
Of course, you won’t go wrong on the more traveled trails in Telluride, such as Bear Creek and Jud Wiebe. Also, there are wonderful trails such as the Wasatch Tail or Hope Lake.