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.
Beginning around September 20th and continuing through the first few days of October, this 235 mile long drive comes alive in utterly spectacular color.
Towering mountains on either side of the road are covered in swatches of vivid color as the aspens don their golden cloaks.
Patches of yellow spring up in every direction, and as the days go by, green becomes yellow and yellow turns to vivid orange.
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.
In places, lakes reflect the glory of the mountains on their glassy surfaces, mirroring the stunning fall colors in their depths.
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.
As she headed towards the shore, she swam into the reflected colors.
The undulating surface surrounded her in golden ripples as she quietly floated across this magnificent backdrop.
She stabbed the silky water with her beak, seeking out yummy morsels, and tiny water droplets fell from her beak as she turned.
The lake mirrored the vivid, patchwork hillsides in the water, creating a breathtaking image.
On the side of the lake, tourists set up camp chairs to admire the mountain views.
And what a view they had.
Both from a distance and from up close, the colors of the trees were awe-inspiring.
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.
Beginning in Dolores, Colorado, the San Juan Skyway follows SR-145 northeast through the village Rico to the trendy town of Telluride.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
For RVers planning an RV trip on the San Juan Skyway, there are various informative links below.
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Info for Colorado’s San Juan Skyway:
- San Juan Skyway Details – Colorado Department of Transportation Official Website
- Location of the San Juan Skyway in Colorado – Interactive Google Map
Other blog posts from our RV trips to this part of southwestern Colorado:
- Brilliant Fall Foliage + Snow in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado 11/22/16
- San Juan Mountains Colorado – And then it Snowed! 11/14/14
- RV Trip on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway – Ouray to Silverton 11/02/14
- Ouray – Finding the COLOR in Colorado on an RV Trip! 10/26/14
- Colorado GOLD – A Fall Foliage Photography Workshop 10/21/12
- Ridgway, CO – Peak fall foliage on the Dallas Divide – WOW!! 10/19/12
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Wow! And I thought the colors in NH were fantastic! Great shots!
New England is lovely, but there’s something very special about the aspens and mountains out west!
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.
What a neat story, Nancy!