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Overview

The San Juans, the heart of southwestern Colorado, provide the majestic backdrops for beautiful mountain towns like Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Lake City and Pagosa Springs. They encompass about 12,000 square miles, or roughly one-eighth of the state, and are made of numerous 14,000-foot peaks, such as Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn. They're part of a two-million-acre national forest filled with hiking trails, but they're more spread out and less compact than their northern-mountain neighbors. This region can be hard to access, due to harrowing drives, but its diversity makes up for the journey. There's Telluride, surrounded by massive peaks ...

The San Juans, the heart of southwestern Colorado, provide the majestic backdrops for beautiful mountain towns like Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Lake City and Pagosa Springs. They encompass about 12,000 square miles, or roughly one-eighth of the state, and are made of numerous 14,000-foot peaks, such as Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn. They're part of a two-million-acre national forest filled with hiking trails, but they're more spread out and less compact than their northern-mountain neighbors. This region can be hard to access, due to harrowing drives, but its diversity makes up for the journey. There's Telluride, surrounded by massive peaks and magnificent scenery, fine restaurants and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival; Four Corners, a Navajo monument and the only place where people can touch four states at the same time; dinky Silverton and Ouray, with their massive peaks and amazing scenery; and, near Durango, Mesa Verde National Park, a ghost town of stone villages where the Ancestral Puebloans lived thousands of years ago.

Steve Knopper
About the Expert

Steve Knopper is the Denver-based author of Moon Handbooks Colorado as well as a contributor to numerous Fodor's city guides.

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Steve Knopper for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, spring (low crowds, high scenery), late June (Telluride Bluegrass Festival), fall (amazing color)