Experiencing the change of color in Colorado was on the top of my list for September/October this year.
The smoke from wildfires in Wyoming chased me into Colorado where I found . . . more smoke. I quickly visited Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Colorado National Monument before retreating to Utah. I tried Colorado again in mid September and found winter instead of fall on my traverse around Lizard Head Peak. Not deterred, I turned my “hike more drive less” trip into a “drive more hike less” leaf peeping trip. First stop was Lizard Head Pass on Highway 145, where I found a little color and a lot of people.
Then I discovered Trout Lake.
I might have even found my new summer home.
And best of all I found the first vestiges of color.
I drove around Trout Lake and down the road where I found Hope Lake Trailhead. If it hadn’t been 4pm, I would have hiked this trail. Instead I camped nearby where I could enjoy the sunset showcasing the colorful mountains.
I even got to see Lizard Head Peak from a new angle. One thing I enjoy is observing landmarks from a distance that I’ve seen up close (link to my hike report).
With a limited good weather window, I chose to drive to my next trailhead rather than hiking to Hope Lake. My travel path took me to Ridgway on Highway 62, a very cute town with a great coffee shop, and onto Ouray on Highway 550, a town much too touristy for my taste. I camped with a view of the fall foliage where I’d begin my hike to Ice Lakes the next day (link to blog post). For more info regarding my car camping experiences, here’s the link to Me and My CRV posts.
I spent a day exploring Silverton before finding my way to the Highlands Mary Lakes Trailhead (link to blog post).
After a return trip on the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray (not for those nervous about heights and exposure), I continued on County Road 8 to Owl Creek Pass where I got to enjoy many views of Chimney Rock.
I was a little early for peak leaf peeping at Cimarron Ridge.
Color was popping at Silver Jack Reservoir.
I quickly learned September weather in Colorado is variable.
Living out of your car and backpack makes life challenging and not-so-much fun during extended storms.
One day rainy, the next snowy, and then the sun reappears albeit under windy cold skies. I spent this day hiking and exploring roads near Crested Butte.
Not a very good photo, but I was pretty excited to come upon this group of moose thinking about testing out those water toys.
Given an overnight temperature of 24 degrees, I was happy to be staying with friends in Crested Butte. Bonus was this colorful sunset.
I frequently am asked if I get lonely on my travels. Well when I do, I always seem to find new friends.
On Highway 285 I found Kenosha Pass and the Colorado Trail. It was a perfect day for a jaunt by foot (link to blog post). With more bad weather coming in, I spent a couple days in Dillon with another new friend. Meet Phurba!
Before reuniting with Nancy aka WhyNot?!
We spent the next few days together at the ALDHA-West gathering in Keystone (link to blog post). October roared in with a bit of winter fury signaling my exit to warmer climates.
This is my third or fourth visit to Colorado and the most indepth to date. I’ve barely scratched the surface and can’t wait for extended time. My dance card is overflowing. See you in 2018 Colorado, mark your calendar. It’s a date!
Readers: do you have suggestions for my next visit?
Dates of Travel: 9/4/17-10/2/17