Are you looking for a beautiful place to witness the fall colors? Durango, Colorado, is the place for you. As the leaves begin to change in September and October, the landscape transforms into a vibrant display of yellows, oranges, and reds. The high elevation of Durango means that the fall colors tend to peak a bit later than in other areas, providing ample opportunities for visitors to witness the stunning transformation over several weeks.
The fall foliage makes the town a must-visit spot for those looking to experience the beauty of autumn. The area is home to various tree species, including cottonwood, aspen, gambel's oak, and chokecherry, known for their vibrant fall colors. The crisp air and clear blue skies provide the perfect backdrop for scenic drives, hikes, and outdoor adventures amidst the colorful leaves. It's a truly magical time to explore Durango.
If you're looking for the best places to see fall colors in Durango, you're in luck! Here are the ten spots that are known for their breathtaking autumnal scenery.
#1 The Colorado Trail at Molas Pass
The Colorado Trail Segment 25 at Molas Pass, located just outside of Durango and running to Bolam Pass, is one of the best spots to witness the stunning colors of fall. The trail passes through fields of wildflowers and dense forests of aspen and pine trees, providing a breathtaking view of the changing leaves. As the weather cools, the leaves create a picturesque scene that attracts visitors from all over. The Colorado Trail at Molas Pass is also a popular destination for hiking and mountain biking, allowing visitors to experience the fall colors up close and personal.
#2 Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is a spectacular place to witness the autumn foliage in Durango. With predominantly red hues, the park's canyons and cliffs create a breathtaking contrast against the bright blue sky. Visitors can take a scenic drive or hike along the park's trails to immerse themselves in the colorful landscape. The park also offers ranger-led tours and educational programs during the fall season, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and families.
#3 Vallecito Creek Trail
The 9-mile Vallecito Creek Trail is also a popular spot to witness the fall colors in Durango. This trail in the San Juan National Forest winds along Vallecito Creek and offers stunning views of golden aspens shimmering in the fall sunlight. The trail is approximately rated moderate, making it accessible to most hikers. In addition to the beautiful fall foliage, hikers can enjoy views of the Vallecito Reservoir near the entrance and the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Vallecito Creek Trail is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience theSouthwest'ss beauty fall beauty amidst towering mountains and ravines.
#4 Missionary Ridge
Missionary Ridge, just northeast of Durango, is popular for viewing fall foliage. The drive up to the ridge offers stunning views of the Animas River Valley below, with plenty of opportunities to pull off and take in the sceneryThere's’s also an excellent opportunity for a challenging ascent up the 9-mile Missionary Ridge Trail. Once at the top, visitors can stroll along the ridge trails or explore the surrounding area. The mix of aspen and coniferous trees on Missionary Ridge creates a display fit for a landscape painting, with plenty of opportunities to capture aerial shots of downtown Durango.
#5 La Plata Canyon
La Plata Canyon is a popular destination for leaf peeping in the fall, requiring a small adventure to reach. But the drive and subsequent trek are well worth it: The changing colors of the aspen trees create a stunning display of red, orange, green, and gold against the sometimes white backdrop of the La Plata Mountains. The canyon offers a variety of routes for hiking, mountain biking, and four-wheel driving. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely drive along tcanyon'sn's dirt roads or take a more adventurous route to Kennebec Pass, where visitors can enjoy an expansive view of the Southwest in autumn.
#6 Junction Creek Area
Junction Creek is a smaller destination for peeping fall colors in Durango, but it is still worth checking out. Its main claim to fame is it's it’s near the beginning of the 486-mile Colorado Trail, which runs along the peaceful creek. The trail leads hikers and bikers through colorful aspen groves and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. This segment of the Colorado Trail is well-maintained and easily accessible, making it an excellent option for families and beginners. The vibrant colors of the foliage create a picturesque mise en scène for an unforgettable outdoor experience. This area is popular amongst locals, making it a great spot to enjoy the beauty of fall in Durango.
#7 Aspen Loop Area
Located on the western slope of the La Plata Mountains, the Aspen Loop area is a popular spot for viewing the spectacular fall colors in Durango. The site is known for its groves of aspen trees that morph into vast swaths of gold. The Aspen Loop Trail is an extensive 39-mile loop that takes visitors through the heart of the aspen forest, providing excellent photo opportunities. The trail suits hikers and bikers of all skill levels, including families with children. In addition to the aspens, the area boasts stunning views of the surrounding La Plata Mountains.
#8 Purgatory Flats Trail
Purgatory Resort is a popular ski resort in the winter, but it's also a great place to visit before ski season for outstanding views of the autumn foliage. The resort is situated in the San Juan Mountains and offers visitors a variety of activities to enjoy the fall colors, including scenic chairlift rides and mountain biking. The resort has several nearby trails, including the 4-mile Purgatory Flats Trail, which winds through groves of golden aspen groves, providing stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Additionally, the resort has various dining options, making it a perfect spot to spend a whole day experiencing the beauty of fall in Durango.
#9 Animas River Trail
If you want to stay close to town, the 7-mile Animas River Trail, which follows the beautiful Animas River, is another ideal location to witness the stunning fall colors in Durango. The trail combines paved paths and offers gorgeous views of the changing foliage and the surrounding mountains. Ayou'llhe way, you'll come across several parks, bridges, and picnic areas where you can take a break and enjoy the scenery. The trail is also easily accessible from downtown Durango, making it a convenient option for visitors. The peaceful ambiance and vibrant fall colors make it a must-visit spot in autumn.
#10 Old Lime Creek Road Area
Old Lime Creek Road, located in the San Juan National Forest, is a beautiful spot for viewing fall colors in Durango. The scenic drive takes visitors through a lush forest of aspen and evergreen trees, offering commanding views of the changing leaves. The road itself is unpaved but well-maintained and suitable for a leisurely drive or a mountain bike ride. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the sights, including several pullouts with scenic overlooks. Visitors can enjoy the vibrant fall colors as the road winds through the mountains against a background of rugged peaks and rolling hills. Waterfall enthusiasts can also find a seasonal waterfall just off the beaten patDurango'susion
Durango’s fall colors present a stunning experience for visitors and locals alike. The picturesque landscapes and vibrant hues of yellow, orange, and red leaves make it an ideal location to explore during autumn and leaf-peep. From Mesa Verde National Park to the Old Lime Creek Road area, numerous scenic spots offer breathtaking views of fall colors. Whether hiking on the Colorado Trail at Molas Pass or biking on the Animas River Trail, visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. These ten best spots provide visitors with an unforgettable fall experience in Durango, Colorado.