Colorado’s San Juan Skyway – An RV Trip in Dazzling Fall Color!

September 2016 – During the last ten days of September each year, the San Juan Skyway in the Colorado Rocky Mountains becomes one of the most dazzling places we have ever visited with our RV.

RV on San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Aspen trees in autumn

Astonishing color on an autumn RV trip along Colorado’s San Juan Skyway. WOW!!

Beginning around September 20th and continuing through the first few days of October, this 235 mile long drive comes alive in utterly spectacular color.

San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Colorful valleys

Colorado fall color.

Towering mountains on either side of the road are covered in swatches of vivid color as the aspens don their golden cloaks.

Colorful hillside San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Autumn Leaves

Autumn splendor in the Colorado Rockies

Patches of yellow spring up in every direction, and as the days go by, green becomes yellow and yellow turns to vivid orange.

Fall color in Colorado Rocky Mountains

Patches of brilliance.

Color patterns San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Autumn Leaves

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The trees join together and form patterns in the Rocky Mountains, and visitors carrying cameras of all shapes and sizes gape in awe at the splendor of Nature’s majesty.

 Leaf patterns in fall San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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In places, lakes reflect the glory of the mountains on their glassy surfaces, mirroring the stunning fall colors in their depths.

Crystal Lake in Autumn San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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Along with dozens of other grinning, camera wielding tourists, we stopped along Colorado’s jaw dropping Million Dollar Highway to take in the views and take some photos. It was early morning on a grey day, and we watched a duck swimming across a small lake.

Colorado Rocky Mountains Autumn Color San Juan Skyway Colorado

Vivid colors brighten a grey morning at Crystal Lake.

As she headed towards the shore, she swam into the reflected colors.

Duck Autumn color San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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The undulating surface surrounded her in golden ripples as she quietly floated across this magnificent backdrop.

Duck Fall color reflections San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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She stabbed the silky water with her beak, seeking out yummy morsels, and tiny water droplets fell from her beak as she turned.

Duck in autumn San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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The lake mirrored the vivid, patchwork hillsides in the water, creating a breathtaking image.

Aspens in fall San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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On the side of the lake, tourists set up camp chairs to admire the mountain views.

Leaf peepers San Juan Skyway Colorado Colorful valleys

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And what a view they had.

Rocky Mountains Fall Color San Juan Skyway Colorado Colorful valleys

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Both from a distance and from up close, the colors of the trees were awe-inspiring.

Mountains of gold San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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Fall color San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

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Like Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, the San Juan Skyway is an All American Road. It is a loop drive that passes through some of Colorado’s most charming mountain towns.

Rico Colorado San Juan Skyway Rocky Mountains

Rico is one of many cute towns along the San Juan Skyway.

Beginning in Dolores, Colorado, the San Juan Skyway follows SR-145 northeast through the village Rico to the trendy town of Telluride.

Autumn color San Juan Skyway Rocky Mountains

Right from Crayola!

From Telluride, the San Juan Skyway continues northwest on SR-145 to the town of Placerville where it heads northeast again on SR-62 to the town of Ridgway.

Trees in autumn San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Autumn Leaves

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From Ridgway, the autumn colors intensify as the San Juan Skyway turns south on US-550, also known as the Million Dollar Highway, and travels through Ouray and Silverton to Durango.

Starburst golden aspen autumn leaves San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

A fish-eye lens and a starburst – what fun!

This portion of the San Juan Skyway takes RVers on tight hairpin turns and 10% grades to climb over three mammoth mountain passes that range between 10,000 and 11,000 feet.

Reflections golden aspen autumn leaves San Juan Skyway Rocky Mountains

Stunning reflections and post-processing fun.

This is an extraordinary road that is easily traveled in an RV that has a strong engine or is towed by a strong truck (semi-tractor trailers traverse the Million Dollar Highway 24/7 in large numbers).

For first-timers, is worthwhile to drive the road in the toad or tow vehicle at least, just so you know what is in store. And who wouldn’t want to do this drive multiple times during those magical autumn days?!

San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains Autumn Leaves

Heading up the Million Dollar Highway.

We have been fortunate to sample various portions of the San Juan Skyway on three separate occasions since we started RVing full-time. Each time we have been wide-eyed with wonder at the sensational scenery all around us.

Motorcycle in fall colors San Juan Skyway Colorado Rocky Mountains

San Juan Skyway – An INCREDIBLE drive!!

For RVers planning an RV trip on the San Juan Skyway, there are various informative links below.

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4 thoughts on “Colorado’s San Juan Skyway – An RV Trip in Dazzling Fall Color!

  1. I did this drive just recently. I found a trail and when I started to walk it felt as though I was walking into a storybook. Out in back of Telluride is an incredible sight. You can find the back story on the web. I first saw it in the 90s (Telluride sure has changed since then). A young man and his wife renovated an old power plant that sits right along the edge of a cliff and next to a waterfall.

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