Fall is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit Lake City and Hinsdale County – definitely the most serene. In one word . . . GOLDEN.
As if knowing winter is near with all its icy air and whiteness, this remote part of the San Juans flaunts its incomparable beauty in the Fall, when gold, red, orange, and yellow “brilliance” lights up mountain purple and deep forest green.
With a decrease in “vacation” traffic, the pace of life slows locally, wildlife eases closer to town, and area festivals and recreational activities complement the seasonal change with celebrations of art and music and welcoming events for hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen.
Fall Visit Dream Plan
September thru October
- As the tourism season winds down, lodging opens up during the fall, with some special rates offered as winter nears (page 35-40). For assistance and itinerary ideas, call the Visitor Center at 970-944-2527.
- Recreational opportunities include scenic “color” tours of the countryside over 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive roads and color-filled, in-town strolls and backcountry treks – all breathtakingly memorable.
- Sporting activities include fishing especially for Kokanee salmon and native brown trout (page 27) and hunting in game management units 65, 66, 67, 76, 77 and 751 (page 11).
- Photo opportunities – Fall is truly where Colorful Colorado gets its name. Need we say more!
- Fall Scenic Drives
- Two wheel drive vehicles
- Silver Thread Scenic Byway
- Lake City to Sherman
- County Road 20 to Capitol City
- Cebolla Creek & Los Pinos Pass
- Rio Grande Reservoir
- Four wheel drive vehicles
- Nellie Creek Road
- North Henson Road
- Portions of Alpine Loop Scenic Byway
- Round Top Road
- Fall Scenic Hikes
- Crystal Peak & Thompson Lake Trail
- Waterdog Trail
- Cataract Gulch
- Alpine Gulch
- Ski Hill to Lake Trail
- Two wheel drive vehicles
September – Colorfest Arts & Crafts Festival; Uncorked Wine & Music Festival; Turkey Shoot; Fly Fishing Tournament
October – Hunter’s Ball & Community Dinner; Halloween Carnival
Access updated and detailed event information in the event calendar
More about Fall
Although autumn is a relatively short season in Lake City, it is one of the most beautiful times to be in the area. The incomparable fall foliage typically is in full swing by mid September. The changing aspen, willows, and cottonwoods set fire to the mountain sides with the slightest breeze setting things aflutter, creating a striking scene. This time of year is also one of the best for fishing, a favorite of locals. Kokanee salmon began to slip upstream from Blue Mesa into the Lake Fork so you may have an opportunity to hook one. Brown trout are also spawning during this time of year.
Several Native American legends attempt to shed light on the symphony of colors that lights up Colorado’s “Shining Mountains” each year. One legend attributes the deep red hues to the blood of the Great Bear dripping onto the leaves after he was slain by celestial hunters. The vibrant yellow and orange colors were the result of fat splattering out of the pot as the meat of the bear was cooked. Others tell the story of the Great Spirit offering magical powers to any tree that could remain awake for seven days and seven nights. Those that succeeded were allowed to be continually green while those that failed had to lose their leaves and sleep during the winter. We know now that the changing leaves are a result of chemical reactions and the changing season. But one may prefer the stories that awaken the imagination, making this time of spectacular beauty much more magical.