Telluride in the fall looks like it’s straight out of a fantasy movie. If you catch it at just the right time you’ll see the mountains overtaken by lush carpets of orange, yellow and red that stretch as far as the eye can see. Mixed in and amongst this quaint yet iconic ski town you’ll find waterfalls, cliffs and fall foliage to make your jaw drop. You can normally expect the peak of Telluride’s gold season to be somewhere in the end of September to mid October, but you never quite know when you’re up so high in the mountains, so make sure you plan ahead. That’s why we’ve put together our list of the best places to see Telluride’s fall colors this year!
If you’re looking for the inside scoop on some of the best things to do in Telluride in fall to be a part of the transformation, we’ve got you covered. While anywhere you go in Telluride is bound to be beautiful, there are some not-to-be-missed gems we want to make sure you add to your list! We hope these insider tips help inspire you on your next journey to Telluride in the gold season.
Telluride Bridal Veil Falls
Telluride Bridal Veil falls is a breathtaking free-falling waterfall tucked among the magnificent mountains of Telluride at the end of the box canyon. The view from this spot is one simply beyond words. You’ll be able to see not only of the enchanting falls themselves, but also of the entire Telluride valley below. Breathe deep in the high-alpine, misty-mountain air beside the falls and take in the dramatic landscape overcome with color. The massive cliffside around the falls is decorated with autumn foliage so astonishing it attracts painters and writers from across the globe. This is almost certainly one of the best places to see Telluride’s fall colors and bask in the vibrancy of the mountainside.
From downtown Telluride, you can take a moderately difficult and scenic hike or bike along the Bridal Veil Falls Trail to get to the top of the waterfall. Warning: it’s a lot of uphill. You can also drive up the gravel road at certain times of year.
Ride the Free Gondola
Your visit to Telluride won’t be considered complete if you haven’t taken the free gondola from Telluride up and over the ridge into Mountain Village at least once. Built in 1996, the gondola is the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the North America! You will ride in a floating glass cabin high above the trees and ski slopes from Telluride at Oak Street to the adorable Mountain Village center.
The ride gives you the perfect opportunity to view the rugged mountains and Telluride colors from 8750ft above sea level. When you get off in Mountain Village you’ll be all the way up at 9547ft in elevation—so don’t feel badly if you have to catch your breath! Hit it at just the right time of year and you’ll get to see this panoramic autumn scenery framed by snowcapped peaks above. The dramatic contrast between winter and fall will simply take your breath away.
Trust us when we say that the stunning view from the gondola is not something you’re likely to ever forget. There’s also plenty to see in Mountain Village while you’re up there including restaurants, shops, hiking trails, bike park trails, farmer’s markets and live music; so it’s definitely worth the ride. When you’re done exploring the village you can simply take the gondola right back down to Telluride. Catching your ride back at sunset to watch the colors mix with the alpenglow is another insider tip.
Visit Allred’s Restaurant at San Sophia Station
If you prefer to enjoy a luxury meal while taking in the dramatic golden season, one the best places to see Telluride’s fall colors with a glass of wine in hand is from Allred’s Restaurant. This fine dining experience sits at the crest of San Sophia Station, smack in the middle of Telluride and Mountain Village along the iconic free Gondola. Make a reservation if you plan to go here. While the food and wine are exceptional, they’re not the only things worthy of praise at Allred’s. If you think you’ve seen it all, nothing can prepare you for dining on the precipice of sensational vistas of the valley draped in fall colors.
From your table you can overlook the magnificent San Juans, set ablaze with the reds, oranges and yellows of Telluride’s golden season. As the sun sets for the day you will start to see warm lights from town twinkle and dance nearly 2000ft below.
Hike or Bike the Village Trail
The Village Trail is every hiker and biker’s dream trail. Considered a moderate trail, this flowy 3.6 mile hike is all downhill and allows you to experience Colorado’s fall foliage by being immersed within it. Instead of being above or beside the colors, as you descend 1000ft you will be in and amongst the brilliant leaves. You’ll also get spectacular views of the entire Telluride region from a variety of overlooks on the trail.
Rent a bike from Bootdoctors or bring your hiking shoes and get ready to experience the transformation up close. The trail begins at the top of the gondola so you’ll want to get off at San Sophia Station in between Telluride and Mountain Village.
Imogene Pass Jeep Tour
Telluride is beautiful all year long, but there’s a serious argument to be made that it is during the fall when it’s at its most magical. Seeing the jagged mountains and greenery overcome with the full spectrum of fall colors is a humbling site to behold. If you want to be a part of it, there’s almost no more exotic way then taking a jeep tour up and over one of Telluride’s high alpine passes. Hold on though because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
To do Imogene Pass you can take a 4×4 tour or rent a jeep from one of our many local providers, though if you don’t have much experience off roading we’d recommend you take a tour so you can just relax and enjoy the scenery. You’ll want to do a half day tour so you have time to go up and over the pass. As a bonus you’ll get to see the Tomboy Ghost Town along the way before you summit at 13,114ft for a photo op amongst some of the most epic scenery you’ve ever seen.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best places to see Telluride’s fall colors in our epic golden season. Now you know the inside scoop! There’s a reason Telluride is often listed in top travel magazines; it is one of the most majestic little towns in the entire world… and this comes into full display in Telluride’s undiscovered fall season. If you still don’t believe us, come out and see for yourself. You won’t regret it.