A Fall Color Explosion


…coming soon to a Colorado Rockies road near you!

Featuring:

  • Flattops Trail
  • Muddy Pass
  • Castle Creek Road
  • Owl Creek Pass
  • …and Last Dollar Road

The first day of autumn is Sunday, September 22.

Are you one of those Colorado drive-by fall color shooters? Have you been dreaming of lying in a bed of freshly fallen golden aspen leaves amongst tall white bark covered old-growth aspen while gazing into the deep Colorado blue sky and shooting photos of colorful quaking aspen leaves? Well stick around, because these roads are just waiting to take you into that full aspen changing immersion experience.

The amount of old growth aspen is what will take your breath away along these routes. Large, straight and sturdy white trunks reach up endlessly into the Colorado blue sky with outstretched branches full of green leaves in the summer just waiting to burst forth with color in the fall. Stop anywhere along the road and within a few steps, you will be completely surrounded by these beautiful stately and colorful giants in the fall.

This year’s Technicolor cast includes:

  1. Owl Creek Pass
  2. Flattops Trail
  3. Last Dollar Road
  4. Castle Creek Road
  5. Buzzard-Muddy Divide

Owl Creek Pass

owl_creek_pass_071913-72

Location: Southwestern Colorado; between Ouray and Blue Mesa Reservoir

Nearby Byways: Alpine Loop, San Juan Skyway, West Elk Loop

Directions:

From Denver

  • Hwy285 south to the Hwy50 junction
  • Hwy50 west to the Cimarron Road turnoff going south; aka Road P77
  • The road numbers change from P77, to 858, 860 and then Road 8 which takes you over Owl Creek Pass and connects to Ridgway State Park.

From Grand Junction

  • Hwy50 south to the Hwy550 junction in Montrose
  • Hwy550 south to the Owl Creek Pass (Road 8) turnoff on the opposite side of Ridgway State Park
  • Follow the above directions (from Denver) in reverse

Road Conditions: this is a dirt road passable by 2-wheel drive car. The last leg of this road, closer to Ridgway, gets a bit tight and bumpy, but not impassable by 2-wheel drive. Along this road are tall old growth aspen with a good smattering of pine mixed in. Stop along the higher elevations for a glimpse of the red sandstone cliffs which are prevalent in this part of Colorado for a beautiful backdrop to a golden aspen colored photo.

Lodging:

On the cheap –

On a budget with a bed –

Full luxury experience –

For a bit of history

Map: Owl Creek Pass

 

Flattops Trail

pyramid-peak_flattops_062913-72

Location: Northwestern Colorado; between Steamboat Springs and Meeker

Nearby Byways: the Flattops Trail is a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway

Directions:

From Denver

  • I-70 west to Hwy131
  • Hwy131 north to the town of Yampa
  • West on Rcr 17 on the north side of Yampa to the Rcr 132 junction
  • West on Rcr 132 also known as the Flattops Trail Scenic Byway which becomes Road 8 all the way to Meeker

From Grand Junction

  • I-70 east to the Rifle turnoff and Road 13 going north
  • North on Road 13 to Meeker
  • Follow the above directions (from Denver) in reverse

Road Conditions: the Flattops Trail is a dirt road with loose gravel in some spots and hard packed dirt in others. This road is 2-wheel drive passable. None of the road is tight and all of it is completely scenic with places along the route to take a side road to a lake, or stop and gaze along one of the passes – Dunckley and Ripple Creek.

Lodging:

Because the Flattops Trail runs along the Flattops Wilderness area, there are no campsites along the route. Wilderness camping permits are needed for rough-in camping.

On the cheap –

On a budget with a bed –

Full luxury experience –

For a bit of history –

Map: Flattops Trail

 

Last Dollar Road

last_dollar_ranch_sneffels_062312

Location: Southwest Colorado; between Ridgway and Telluride

Nearby Byways: San Juan Skyway

Directions:

From Denver

  • Hwy285 south to the Hwy50 junction
  • Hwy50 west to Montrose and the Hwy550 junction
  • Hwy550 south to Ridgway and the Hwy62 junction
  • Hwy62 west to the Last Dollar Road turnoff (aka 58P Road)
  • South on Last Dollar Road to the Hwy145 junction and the town of Sawpit

From Grand Junction

  • Hwy50 south to Montrose and the Hwy550 junction
  • Hwy550 south to Ridgway and the Hwy62 junction
  • Hwy62 west to the Last Dollar Road turnoff (aka 58P Road)
  • South on Last Dollar Road to the Hwy145 junction and the town of Sawpit

Road Conditions: Last Dollar Road is a dirt road which is passable by 2-wheel drive car. The road is closed in the winter months from January to May. If the road is wet, it may not be passable by 2-wheel drive, though. Views of Dallas Divide and the San Juans are breathtaking and well worth the trip.

Lodging:

On the cheap –

On a budget with a bed –

Full luxury experience –

For a bit of history –

Map: Last Dollar Road

 

Castle Creek Road

montezuma-1_070713-72

Location: South Central Colorado; on the western edge of Aspen

Nearby Byways: Top of the Rockies

Directions:

From Denver

  • I-70 west to Glenwood Springs
  • Hwy82 south to the Castle Creek Road turn-off in the west Aspen round-about
  • Head south on Castle Creek Road until you come to the historic site of Ashcroft – your first stop
  • Two miles from Ashcroft, the road dead ends at a huge meadow which is surrounded by aspen and pine-covered hills

From Grand Junction

  • I-70 east to Glenwood Springs
  • The same directions as above from Glenwood

Road Conditions: Castle Creek Road is paved to the end. From the end of the road, you can opt to take a 4-wheel drive road to Montezuma Basin.

Lodging:

On the cheap –

On a budget with a bed –

Full luxury experience –

For a bit of history –

Map: Castle Creek Road

 

Muddy-Buzzard Divide

escalante_expedition-sign_090212

Location: South Central and Western Colorado; in between Carbondale and Grand Junction

Nearby Byways: West Elk Loop and Grand Mesa byways

Directions:

From Denver

  • I-70 west to Glenwood Springs
  • Hwy82 south to the Hwy133 junction at Carbondale
  • Hwy133 west to a few miles past McClure Pass
  • Right, or west onto FR 265
  • Stay on FR 265 past the Dominguez & Escalante West Muddy Campsite
  • FR 265 is marked as 71 and 4/10 on the west end which connects with Hwy330
  • At the Hwy330 junction, you can take a left and head west toward Colbran and eventually Grand Junction, or take a right and head east toward I-70 and Silt.

From Grand Junction

  • I-70 east to the Hwy65 junction
  • Hwy65 east to the Hwy330 junction heading east to Colbran
  • Hwy330 east through Colbran – pay attention to road signs along the way and turn off at the 71 and 4/10 road. You should also see a national forest sign along this road marking it as the Grand Mesa National Forest.
  • Follow the above directions in reverse to arrive at Hwy133

Road Conditions: This road is a forest service road and is therefore a dirt road, but is completely passable by 2-wheel drive car.

Lodging:

On the cheap –

On a budget with a bed –

Luxury cabin rentals on a budget –

Full luxury experience –

For a bit of history –

  • Redstone Inn in Redstone between Carbondale and McClure Pass

Map: Muddy-Buzzard Divide

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s