Leaf Peeping Camping: Ouray and Silverton

Peak fall color in Colorado varies every year. Sometimes it’s mid-September and sometimes it’s late September. After venturing out for our camping trip to Leadville the weekend prior to this one (the last weekend of September), we found out we had missed Colorado’s brief, peak fall color, but we still managed to find some colorful pockets to make our trip worthwhile.

Once Colorado reaches its peak fall color, it’s a steep downhill slope from there, so we knew if we ventured out for another camping trip the first weekend of October, it would be less “hit” and more “miss”. This didn’t stop us though! We were back out there again for a long road trip down south near Ouray, in hopes that we could maybe catch the tail end of peak fall color down in southern Colorado, which occurs a little later than the northern parts.

During our Leadville camping trip, where we had encountered lots of leaf peeping crowds, we had noticed some campers breaking the active fire ban that was still in place (which was rare for this time of year, but definitely appropriate since we still had tons of wildfires burning around the state), but we also noticed one set of campers who weren’t breaking the fire ban, but still had a fire. It appeared they had a travel fire pit that was fueled by a large propane tank. As long as your fire source can be turned off (rather than put out), it is allowed under the Colorado fire ban.

Hubby and I had been A+ campers, obeying the fire bans that were in place almost all summer long, and as a result, we often had to forgo our favorite nighttime camping activity of staring into the mesmerizing fire and charring s’mores right before bedtime. Somehow, we hadn’t even considered the idea that we could get a “fake” fire that obeyed the fire regulations and still gave us the same camping experience we craved (and without crackling embers shooting out and burning tiny holes in precious clothing at that!).

It’s not hard to figure out what we bought immediately after our Leadville trip and what we were excited to use right away for our next camping trip. The dachshunds were also thrilled for our recent purchased. If they could speak, I’m pretty sure they would have said, “it’s about damn time”.

There were more golden leaves on the ground than in the trees for our weekend trip outside Ouray the first weekend of October.
I’m pretty sure the dachshunds wondered just as much as us about why we didn’t get this propane-fueled fire pit sooner!
Who needs fall colors when you have these mountain colors year-round?

As you can see, there were more golden leaves on the ground than there were on the trees, but despite missing peak fall color outside Ouray, we made up for it by enjoying colorful mountain views driving up Corkscrew Pass and Hurricane Pass (both 4WD roads). We stayed outside Ouray on Corkscrew Pass for one night and packed up camped without knowing where we would stay our second night.

We ended up finding ourselves in a familiar area outside Silverton before we had stumbled upon a suitable camping spot for the second night of our weekend. Hubby and I purposely try not to revisit the same dispersed campsites we have already stayed at, if we can avoid it, especially within a short time period, but without having found any good camping spots prior, we mutually agreed that if our favorite camping spot was open, we would snag it… at it was!!! Yassssss!

On our final morning before we drove back home, we did a tough hike to two popular blue lakes nearby that we have visited a few times, but have never seen in the fall. It was a bummer not seeing the spring wildflowers that frequently decorate the lakes, but it was also interesting to see the yellowish landscape paired with the teal blue lakes. It was a sight to see and a color combo I didn’t know I would adore so much!

Our dachshunds, 14 and 15 years old at the time, dominated the tough, 6.5-mile hike, but immediately crashed the minute we returned back to our vehicle. Hubby and I are constantly impressed by what they can accomplish at their senior age. They are literally unstoppable!

A couple of weeks after our trip, this area was ravaged by a tragic wildfire, so we felt very grateful to have visited it one last time before it was shut down for an undetermined amount of time. This area was already so overcrowded and over-loved as it was, so perhaps this was the Universe’s way of saying the area needed time to heal. Hopefully it gets the rest it needs!

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