September 19th, 2015

This is my Californian confession: I have never experienced a true fall. I have never had the pleasure of being in a location that truly changes with the seasons. This is both a blessing and a curse; I have been lucky enough to live in a moderate, sunny climate for my entire life, but that also means I have never seen the trees transform into pillars of fleeting color.

I will admit, one of the many reasons that I decided to take this trip was to travel in the fall and see the fall leaves change as I moved across the country one state at a time. Colorado is the first (hopefully of many) states to come where the once green rolling hills become a sea of vibrant yellows and oranges.

My desperate pursuit of fall leaves has now begun and the first thing on my mind (and my to do list) in Colorado is to hunt down some gorgeous color anywhere I can find it. I am not going to lie, I was a little disappointed that Durango itself doesn’t have much color yet so we decided to take a little tour of the mountains surrounding Durango.

We gave little PriPri a break from driving and jumped into my brother’s Subaru in search of fall leaves and mountain towns tucked away between towering peaks.


And of course Mama the Llama came along to keep a sharp eye out for great fall colors.


Our little mountain drive first took us to Telluride; a small but charmingly upscale ski resort town nestled in a basin amongst walls of jutting mountains.







We wandered around the quaint little streets that fell somewhere between an Old Western town and an affluent playground for nature lovers. Wandering around the streets and between adorable (and extremely expensive) little homes we decided a new vantage point was necessary to take in the view of fall colors that I so desperately wanted to see.


Luckily Telluride is a ski resort with numerous ski lifts to the top of the mountains that loom over the town. We took a gondola all the way up (with me sitting wide eyed, slightly terrified, and astounded by the speed of the lift as well as the surrounding beauty) and saw a truly breathtaking view.

Breathtaking not only because of its astonishing beauty, but also the dramatic 2,000ft elevation climb we made to get to the top.







Mama also liked the view.

Returning down the gondola (now squished between a man who refused to take part in the experience and a burly firefighter who stepped on my toes and wedged me uncomfortably between him and the taciturn stranger) we had our last few jaunts of exploration in Telluride before continuing onward through the mountains.



Circumventing the tremendous mountains, we arrived at our next little mountain town, Ouray.



Ouray is a mining town that has more of an old world charm than Telluride but lacks a lot of the sophistication that the previous city had. Honestly, I prefer the unpretentiousness of Ouray even though Telluride is astoundingly beautiful. Similarly nestled between peaks, Ouray actually had the most amazing fall colors surrounding it once we left the city on the extremely narrow and winding road that leads to Silverton from Ouray. While terrifying, this road held all of the beauty that my California mind had built up real fall color to be.





I had known going into this road trip that I was probably romanticizing a little bit too much about how incredible and beautiful a real fall season would be, but today demonstrated that all my dreams were true.




You may be asking yourself as you look at the last photo, is that river gold? and the answer is YES. The river near Ouray is indeed that rich of a gold color because of the contaminants in the water left over from the mining down in the nearby hills. Not good for life but great for photos. Sorry mother nature, I actually benefitted from your loss in this instance, thanks for taking one for the team.





We got to explore some beautiful aspen groves as well. Aspens are one of my favorite types of trees so this truly was a treat for me!





My pictures cannot do anywhere near justice to the amazing and varied colors of the mountainsides we drove along.




All in all, I would declare today a successful mission. Three major scenic mountain towns knocked off the list and an incredible display of fall colors witnessed. The fall is just beginning and I cannot wait to see the transformation continue. As always, the mountains are calling and I must go, see you all tomorrow.


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