San Juan National Forest Fall Color Report 2023

2022 Fall Contest Winner Photos
2022 Winners of San Juan National Forest Fall Colors Photo Contest

Estimated Peak Viewing Period

Peak foliage dates are generally pretty consistent, rarely wobbling by more than a few days. Over the past several years, the colors in the San Juan Mountains tend to start mid-September near Silverton and finish up early to mid-October around Pagosa Springs, Purgatory and Dolores. 

"Generally, fall colors begin with golden yellow quaking aspen at the highest elevations and narrow leaf cottonwoods in low-lying cold areas as early as late August. But aspens, which put on fall’s brightest show and account for 20% of Colorado’s forests, usually peak near the end of September to early October, which is typically a few weeks later than trees in most of the rest of the state." - SJNF Forester, Matt Tuten

The Fall Foliage Prediction Map is a great tool for estimating when fall colors will peak nation-wide. 

Estimate of Current Fall Foliage 

Updated: October 23, 2023

Fall Colors Key

San Juan Skyway

  • Durango to Purgatory: Post Peak, but still some color (10/23)
  • Purgatory to Coal Bank: Post Peak (10/23)
  • Coal Bank to Molas Pass: Post Peak (10/23)
  • Molas Pass to Silverton: Post Peak  (10/17)
  • Silverton area: Slightly Post Peak (10/17)
  • Silverton to Red Mtn Pass: Post Peak (10/17)
  • Red Mtn Pass to Ouray: Post Peak (10/17)
  • Ouray to Telluride (Dallas Divide): Post Peak (10/23)
  • Telluride to Lizard Head Pass: Post Peak (10/23)
  • Lizard Head Pass to Rico: Post Peak (10/23)
  • Rico to Dolores: Post Peak (10/23)
  • Mancos Area: Post Peak but still incredible color in river valleys (10/23)

Other Areas 

  • Pagosa Springs: Post Peak but still colorful in town/river valley(10/23)
  • Missionary Ridge: Post Peak (10/23)
  • La Plata Canyon: Post Peak but still color in river valley (10/23)

Areas with Greatest Amount of Color / Recommended Viewing Areas

The lower elevations are still looking quite lovely - towns of Durango, Mancos, Pagosa Springs are wild with color, not to mention all river valleys around the San Juans.. 

For More Information on Fall Colors Please Contact