Photographing Colorado Fall Color

Wilson Peak from Last Dollar Road

The San Juan Mountains are in the Southwest corner of Colorado and includes the towns of Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, and Ophir (we did this same loop in August).  The first stop on our September trip was to capture the unique fall color of Aspens and Cottonwoods.  Here is what we saw.

Last Dollar Road is a class-two dirt road between Ridgway and Telluride.  We had a four-wheel drive Chevy Tahoe and I was glad to have it several times.  There are many stands of Aspens and numerous look out points.  Most face east, so this a is great early morning photography outing (see cover photo, too).

We stopped at every fence

The Dallas Divide and Mount Sneffles Range can be seen all along CO Highway 62 just outside of Ridgway as you drive west and south.  There is a wide and easy overlook and several dirt roads including CR 5, Dallas Creek Road, and West Dallas Creek Road that provide spectacular views.

Overlook just minutes before a thunder storm moved in

The Red Mountain Pass is between Ouray and Silverton.  This is the home of the Yankee Girl Mine.  We shot this is the summer and returned for a little fall color.

5-shot HDR composite of the Yankee Girl Mine

You can drive the Ophir Pass from west to east from Ophir to Silverton or from east to west from Silverton to Ophir.  On this trip we drove east to west.  The east side was terrible with very little color.  After we got over the pass and saw the town of Ophir, it just opened up into a fantastic sight.

Ophir Pass with village of Ophir in the lower left side of the photo

Colorado Highway 145 between Ridgway and Ophir has several overlooks.  This one is near Telluride.

CO Highway 145 near Telluride

This is not a PARK and POINT shoot – remember to get out and hike and do some close-ups, too.

The ever popular, shoot straight up photo
Mary with her trusty Canon 70-200 f/4.0 lens
In the middle of the Aspens – 5 shot HDR Composite

Well, this was a great start to our Fall Trip.  Everything pretty much went as planned.  Because of the recent Colorado drought we did not have any real wild flowers this season and some groves of Aspens turned early and some later than usual.  With a little persistence and luck, we found quite a few beautiful places and left Ouray satisfied and energized.  Next week – on to Mesa Verde.  To see more of our photos, please go to

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