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Things to Do in Telluride in October for Stunning Fall Colors

Things_To_Do_Telluride_October

Telluride is seriously one of the most gorgeous towns on earth. Deep in the San Juan Mountains, pressed up against the towering Dallas Divide, Telluride is filled with truly endless trails, views, and adventures.

What makes Telluride so special, even among mountain towns, is how condensed everything is. The town is squished in the middle dozens of sharp mountains including many famous 14ers (14,000 foot mountains).

On top of that, when the fall colors of October arrive, the beauty only multiplies as aspen scatter across the mountainsides and valleys.

Because of this, October is probably the most magical time to visit Telluride. Check these awesome things to do in October deep in the San Juans…

Hike the Famous Via Ferrata

Love exposure, amazing views, and climbing rocks? Then you’ll love this. This epic adventure takes along the sheer cliffside near Bridalveil Falls, the apex of Telluride valley.

While some parts are on ladders on overhanging cliffs, many parts are just a walk along a flat ledge. This may seem scary, but there’s nothing to fear. Via Ferratas are done using gear to protect you from falling.

If you are thinking of doing this fun hike, be sure to check out our Guide to Hiking Telluride’s Via Ferrata at the bottom of this blog.

Via Ferrata, things to do in Telluride in October
Telluride’s scenic and iconic Via Ferrata overlooking the orange and yellow valley of October

Bridal Veil Falls

For an easier hike, check out Telluride’s famous Bridal Veil Falls Trail. While it still gains 800 feet in a mile, making it not an easy hike by any means, it doesn’t have the exposure and require gear like the Via Ferrata does.

Photograph the Dallas Divide

The Dallas Divde is a bit out of town but it’s totally worth seeing.  Actually, if you are heading into Telluride from the north, it’ll be right on your way.  Dallas Divide overlook lies 10 miles south of Ridgeway on the left.  The Dallas Divide is an iconic overlook at all times of year, but the fall foliage of October makes it truly breathtaking.

Dallas Divide, things to do in Telluride in October
Beautiful Dallas Divide in all it’s fall glory

Hike 14er: Mount Sneffels

This has been on our bucket list forever and I’m bummed to say that we still haven’t done it. That’s because you need a high clearance vehicle to get to the Blue Lakes Trailhead to do this amazing hike and we are always in our motorhome when we are in that area.

While this is a pretty challenging 14er, I’ve heard the views are amazing and worth the effort. If you aren’t sure your legs are up to it, join our app and get Fit To Hike!

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Grab some coffee at Ghost Town Coffee 

Ghost Town Coffee isn’t a fall spectacle, but it is a great place to stop for a drink in between your October adventures.  I love this coffee shop’s ambiance tucked into a patio on Main Street.  In addition to the decor and atmosphere,  the coffee is absolutely delicious.

Ghost town coffee, things to do in Telluride in October
While not necessarily a fall spectacle, Ghost Coffee has great ambiance at all times of year Photo credit: ghosttowntelluride.com

 

Ride the Free Gondola to Epic Views

The gondola is one of Telluride’s best features and the best part is, this time of year it’s FREE. The views while going up the gondola are truly amazing. As you go up, you can see the entire town of Telluride tucked between the huge mountains. October makes for even more amazing views as Aspen groves fill the mountainside and contrast against the white color of the mountains.  Be sure to take in the views at the top before heading back down.

Telluride Gondola, things to do in Telluride in October
The free Telluride Gondola

Downhill Mountain Bike the Village Trail

After riding the gondola up, I highly recommend riding the scenic and iconic mountain biking trail, the Village Trail. This trail is best for beginner/intermediate riders and is filled with some of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen.  As you descend, you’ll be greeted with picture perfect views of mountains being framed by orange and yellow aspens.

Telluride Village Trail, things to do in Telluride in October
Downhilling the Telluride Village Trail with views of mountains and falls colors

Drive a Mountain Pass

Telluride’s scenic road may be pretty at all times of the year, it’s especially true in October when fall is in full bloom.

Telluride is known for its many scenic dirt mountain roads that usually require 4WD.  Fall is definitely one of the most amazing times to explore these.

I highly recommend exploring scenic Imogene Pass, a dirt road connecting Telluride and Ouray, Ophir Pass, a dirt road accessed just south of Telluride, or Black Bear Pass, which also heads east form Telluride.

These 3 passes all require 4WD and some off-roading experience.  If you don’t have a 4WD vehicle, there are plenty of 4×4 rental companies in town.  If you are not comfortable driving yourself, you can also take an off roading tour like this one.

Off roading in Silverton, San Juan Mountains
Riding a razor up California Pass near Silverton

Not an adrenaline junkie? Drive south of Telluride on the 145 all the way to Lizard Head Pass.  This road is paved and has just as beautiful of views.

Drive a pass, things to do in Telluride in October
Everything in Telluride is better in fall, even the drives. Here we are driving the scenic highway south of Telluride toward Lizard Head Pass

More Fun Things To Do Near Telluride in October

There are so many great adventures and beautiful nature to explore within a few hours drive of Telluride such as:

  • Drive the Million Dollar Highway. The fall colors along this highway are amazing from the top of Castle Rock.
  • Explore Ouray. With amazing rock climbing, hiking, a via ferrata, and family friendly hot springs, Ouary is a destination in and of itself.
  • MTB in Ridgeway. We haven’t actually rode the RAT but have heard it is awesome!
  • Check out Durango. Another great Colorado town that offers outdoor adventure mixed with great food, a historic downtown, and a famous train ride!
  • Make it a Colorado Adventure Road Trip with this itinerary including another one of our favorite Colorado towns, Breckenridge!

How To Hike Telluride’s Via Ferrata

What Gear Do I Need To Hike Telluride’s Via Ferrata?

It’s best to have flexible shoes that have good traction like these. Hiking boots can be too stiff and make it hard to use your feet on the Via Ferrate section.

You also need a lanyard, harness, and helmet. You can rent these in town or buy your own gear. If you already have climbing gear, you only need to get a special Via Ferrata lanyard.

Tip: When you do the Via Ferrata, you want to always have one carabiner locked to a cable. While hiking, you’ll have two carabiners locked in but when you get to a bolt in the wall, you have to unlock one at a time to move it to the next section of cable.

You might also want gloves to help your grip if it is really cold out.

How Long Is The Via Ferrata?

The Via Ferrata part of the hike is only about a mile long but first, you’ll have to hike from the parking area on Highway 145 is about a mile and a half hike up the dirt road. Then, you’ll have a half-mile hike back down to the road. In all, it took us about 3 hours.

How Hard is the Via Ferrata?

We have rock climbing skills so we didn’t feel like it was hard from an upper body strength or coordination standpoint. I thought the scariest part though was actually the hiking on the ledge before you actually get started with the cables and rungs.

Should You Hire A Guide?

If you are worried about your capability, then absolutely hire a guide. I thought the hike was pretty straight forward so if you have a lot of hiking or climbing experience, and the right gear, then you’ll be fine on your own.

Be Safe! Remember, this is Colorado, and the weather changes fast so be sure to check the forecast.

Hope this helped you plan a trip to Telluride in October!  If you have any questions fell free to let us know in the comments section below!

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Glenn

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Ghost Town Coffee has closed due to a lack of employees, which is due to a lack of affordable housing. They are, unfortunately, not the only business in town that has had to do so.

Robyn

Saturday 5th of February 2022

Thanks for the update. Telluride, and many other small towns, have so much to offer the world, it's very unfortunate that greed and power hungry entities are pricing people out of smaller communities.

Cathy

Friday 17th of September 2021

WHat day in October does the Telluride gondola close? We will arrive on the 27th

Gabi

Saturday 18th of September 2021

This year (2021), the gondola will be open through October 17th :)

Shonitha Rai

Friday 18th of September 2020

Do you know when is the best week to visit fall in Telluride this year 2020?.

Gabi

Monday 21st of September 2020

I don't know for sure, but it's almost always the last week of September and the first week of October that are prime time for fall colors in Telluride. This year seems to be pretty standard in other parts of colorado so I'd guess it's the same in Telluride :)

Tanya

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

Wow what a great compilation. We are dying to get back to the Telluride / Ouray area asap. We love living in Colorado now and there is just so much to see and - the hardest part is deciding if we should see something new or return to an area we want to explore more -- hopefully we'll have lots of time to do both!

Robyn

Monday 30th of March 2020

Colorado really is amazing! You are so lucky to get to live there :) We always have that dilemma, see something new or revisit something we love!

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