Dolores Canyon to Telluride Road Trip


10/4 – 10/7

I have been monitoring a San Juan National Forest web page that shows how far along the aspens are to peak color. It is interesting to see how much it varies between different areas. Telluride was about ten days behind the Silverton area. Cortez is only 75 miles from Telluride, and it was in my plans to drive back up there to see the aspens. During my last week in Cortez it is very rainy and windy as a front moves through. The leaves are at about 75%, but with the winds, are starting to blow off the trees.

Friday, October 4, is an overcast day with 50% rain in forecast. Another small front is forecast to move through over the weekend, so I decide to go to Telluride on Friday. The drive up Dolores Canyon is very scenic.


Starting up Dolores Canyon

The road follows along the Dolores River.


Dolores River

About half way to Lizard Head Pass is the old mining town of Rico. It was once the Dolores County seat, but has dwindled in size as the mines closed.


Town of Rico


Old church building

Continuing towards the pass, rugged mountains that the San Juans are known for come into view.


Jagged San Juans

I drive into Telluride to enjoy a delicious pizza at High Pie Pizzeria. The town is looking beautiful with the yellow aspens and a dusting of snow on the slopes.


Eastern edge of Telluride looking up the box canyon


along the main street in Telluride


Aspens and a dusting of snow

After lunch, I want to drive Last Dollar Road. This time instead of driving from the Hwy 145 end, I go around to Hwy 62 and drive south on Last Dollar Road. Even though it is very overcast and rainy, it is still beautiful.


Looking towards the Sneffels Range


Sneffels Range from Last Dollar Ranch


There were cattle on the range today


Such beautiful country!

In this short section, the aspen trees grow at all different angles. You can see on the road how many leaves have already blown off the trees.


Aspen lane

I saw three or four groups of deer. I didn’t see any when I was camped here in September.


Inquisitive deer

If one is going to have a gate, might as well make it a work of art 🙂


What a lovely gate!

Starting down from Last Dollar Pass, Wilson Peak and my favorite, Lizard Head Peak come into view.


Wilson Peak in the clouds and the tiny spire of Lizard Head just to the left


Patches of aspen on the mesa


Narrow section of the road down the south side of Last Dollar Pass


Colors are muted by the cloudy sky but still beautiful


Getting their evening snack

The old barn amidst the aspens.


Aldasoro Brothers Ranch barn

It is late afternoon when I get back to the highway. I make a quick photo stop at Lizard Head Pass then head on down the canyon.

Monday, October 8, I will bid adieu to Colorado and head south through New Mexico. What a great summer I have had here!


Lizard Head Pass


6 Comments on “Dolores Canyon to Telluride Road Trip

  1. Absolutely spectacular. What is ironic is that was the route we had planned when leaving Grand Junction. But we didn’t get to leave GJ until the 10th! And by then the weather has turned. We decided to go around through Moab because we were concerned about snow or ice on Lizard Head. It probably would have been fine!!
    Thank you for sharing your amazing photos…at least gives me a taste of what we missed.


    • Hi Martha, thanks so much! That is a beautiful drive. There was snow in the mountains over the weekend. When I left Cortez on Monday morning (the 7th) there was even snow in the La Platas, which aren’t very high. So you might have run into some snow on the pass. It’s always nice to visit Moab too, I love it there. Glad you enjoyed the photos, I appreciate your comment 😀


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