Best Places to See Colorado’s Fall Colors

Colorado’s fall colors are some of the country’s most impressive. In the fall, Colorado is transformed by the aspen leaves shimmering shades of gold and red. Due to the 5 different climate zones with-in a 2-hour drive of Denver, we have one of the longest periods of fall colors of any city nationwide. This Autumn take advantage of the beauty Colorado offers and immerse yourself in the lush golden scenery.

Classic Colorful Drives

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

This 55-mile stretch of highway is a local favorite anytime of the year. In the Fall, the aspens along the byway light up and it becomes the perfect drive to see breath-taking views of the Continental Divide. Along the way, you can check out Rocky Mountain National Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and many more scenic sites. The byway is made up of Highway 7 in the North, and 72 and 199 in the south.

San Juan Skyway

233 miles of highway looping through the towering peaks of the San Juan Range blanketed with forest green conifers and golden aspen groves. On top of the spectacular fall colors that this drive offers, you can also hop a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that will coincide with peak fall foliage. Another great way to view the changing of the seasons on this drive is with Soaring Tree Top Adventures, home to 27 lines.

Kebler Pass

Crested Butte is home to Kebler Pass, which boasts one of the largest aspen groves in North America! It’s also one of world renowned photographer, John Fielder’s, favorite places to shoot autumn’s stunning scenery. The gravel road winds west out of Crested Butte past babbling creeks and open meadows. Because it’s an unpaved road, it’s easy to stop and take pictures mostly anywhere. For those willing to get out an explore along ridges and through valleys, there are miles of brilliant orange, yellow, and red aspens by Gunnison County Road 12.

Dallas Divide

Far in the southwestern corner of Colorado, near Telluride, sits a high mountain pass called the Dallas Divide. Telluride is a charming mountain town nestled between jagged mountains soaring into the sky. In Autumn, it transforms into an enchanting valley carpeted with vibrant red, gold, orange, and green aspens. From the Dallas Divide, there are four different routes you can take to surround yourself in Telluride’s fall glory: Owl Creek Pass, Dallas Creek Road, West Dallas Creek Road, and Lost Dollar Road. Any of these are sure to stun!

Guanella Pass

Located only an hour outside of Denver, Guanella Pass is one of the more popular fall drives in Colorado. 10 miles of paved road make viewing the golden aspen waves easier than ever. If you want to get a closer look, hike the Threemile Trail that heads into the heart of the southern half of the Mount Evans wilderness, offering spectacular scenery and vistas.Colorado’s Fall Colors

Scenic Hiking Areas

Rocky Mountain National Park

Visiting RMNP in the fall is an absolute must! Beginning in late August, aspens in the highest point of the park begin to change, striping the park in color. Gradually, throughout September the color moves down in elevation until the entire park is covered in golden-yellow hues. To add to the natural, majestic beauty, hundreds of elk come down from the high country to mate before winter. There really is no wrong way to view the park, as the whole things is bursting with color. But in case you need some suggestions, here are a few areas we recommend: Bear Lake Road, Little Horseshoe Park, Glacier Gorge Trail, or Twin Sisters.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

This hot spot sits right at Denver’s doorstep, so you don’t have to travel far to be immersed in Colorado’s fall colors. In Autumn, it isn’t hard to see where Golden Gate Canyon got its name. The park has everything from aspen fall foliage to sweep views of snow-capped peaks. And with an extensive series of trails, you can spend all day exploring during the changing of the seasons. One  place you’d be foolish to miss is Panorama Point where you can marvel at the expansive views of the Indian Peaks climbing above the aspens.

The Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells might be the most photographed place in Colorado and this isn’t without good reason. A reflective lake frames two large, snow dusted peaks providing a blissful panorama that truly epitomizes the beauty of Colorado. These peaks are the ideal place to to capture the magic of the changing seasons. This area features 5 hikes ranging from easy to moderate and from 1 – 13 miles in length. For a more in depth exploration, the Maroon Bells offers backpacking and camping opportunities for the avid explorer.

Lair O’The Bear

Only about 30 minutes outside of Denver, this spot has all the ingredients for a perfect fall day trip. Getting there is quick and painless, and it’s close enough to the foothills that the temperatures stay relatively mild during autumn. You will also have the option to choose from a variety of trails that take you winding along the banks of Bear Creek to a steep climb that leads to incredible views of the valley.

Roxborough State Park

If you didn’t make it to the high country in time to see the leaves change, don’t stress. Fall comes later at lower elevations, so you can still catch some autumn action at Roxborough, only about a 40-minute drive from Denver. In mid-October, this park bursts with a rainbow of color. The vibrant oranges and yellows create a captivating sight against the massive sandstone red rock formations jutting from the earth. You may even happen across wildlife on your trip, such as deer, lizards, foxes or bobcats.


The City in Color

Washington Park

If you want to feel immersed in the allure of autumn while staying close to all the happenings in the city, Washington Park is the perfect place to spend the day. Wash Park, a tree-lined oasis in the heart of Denver, attracts a young and high-energy crowd. Packed with beautiful trees, this 165-acre park features flower gardens, art installations, barbecues, volleyball nets, two lakes, and a two mile running path. In the fall, Wash Park truly is the best of both worlds.

City Park

City Park is Denver’s oldest park with the majority of trees having been rooted there for over a century. Many of these historic trees are different varieties of Ash, which come alive in the fall with splendid shades of red, orange, and yellow. Enjoy the park before or after a family outing to the Denver Zoo or Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Bring a blanket, plan a picnic, or stroll around the lake taking in the lovely fall scenery.

Sloans Lake

Located near the Denver Highlands neighborhood, Sloans Lake is the largest lake in Denver. It offers incredible views of the Denver skyline and the mountains. The sprawling park is blanketed in trees and perfect for fall foliage. Run, bike or walk around the lake to take in the changing of the seasons. Afterwards grab a drink or bite to eat at the nearby breweries, bars, and restaurants in either Edgewater or the Highlands.

The Highline Canal

The Highline Canal meanders through Denver for over 70 miles. The trail has 3 separate sections which span from Chatfield State Park to the eastern outskirts of Denver, with plans for expansion. Almost all of the trail is lined with old Cottonwood trees that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall. From early-October to mid-November is when you’ll be able to get the most vivid fall experience.

Tagged Under: Lifestyle

Mara Calomino

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