Unlike Colorado’s winter, its transitional seasons of spring and fall, tend to last only a few weeks. That means there is an even shorter period of precious time to catch the magnificent red, yellow, and orange hues of the changing vegetation. Urban residents of the state flock to the mountain regions to view the colorful spectacle. With fall already upon us, Colorado.com has created a helpful list of prime spots to chase the colors of autumn around the state.
1. Trail Ridge Road
Between Estes Park and Grand Lake is one of the highest roads in North America towering above 12,000 feet and winding through scenic and wildlife-rich Rocky Mountain National Park. This area is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers in every season. From this elevated vantage point the views are particularly spectacular.
2. Kebler Pass
This unpaved stretch of road near Gunnison is home to the largest aspen grove in North America. Aspens are known for the vibrant gold their leaves turn as they prepare to fall away for the winter season.
3. San Juan Skyway
A stretch of highway running from New Mexico to Colorado through the San Juan Mountain range has the nickname of “The Million Dollar Highway.” It is so called for its spectacular views. With a zipline, railroad, and other various adventure and ghost towns dotting its 236-mile loop, it offers endless entertainment among the fall foliage.
4. Maroon Bells
These are two stunning peaks near Aspen-Snowmass. They tower at 14,000ft and are covered in aspen trees. The Maroon Bells are the most photographed peaks in North America so it must be worth the trip to see the breath-taking view in person.
5. Western Slope
Comprising the Grand Mesa and Colorado wine country, this area boasts gorgeous fall colors contrasted against the dry desert-like foliage found in parts of Western Colorado.
6. Buffalo Pass
You can’t miss checking out this dirt road just west of Steamboat Springs. While the road itself is lined with aspen groves, a popular 6-mile hike along the Three Island Lake Trail brings travelers through meadows and past glacial lakes. The loop is beautiful and diverse enough to visit every season.
7. La Veta Pass
In southern Colorado is the small town of La Veta and driving west from there takes you along “one of the most scenic drives in the state during the fall season.” The Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Spanish Peaks are dotted with a mix of dark pines and colorful aspens that slope into the lush depths of the San Luis Valley.
This ski town in southwest Colorado is known for its scenery, vegetation, seclusion, and cozy village vibe. The town and the surrounding fall colors are best seen from a free gondola ride up the mountain. Or a whole other perspective can be viewed from the ground along one of the many trails that lead out of the town and into the mountains. A local’s favorite is Jud Wiebe Trail that runs through several aspen groves and past a waterfall.
9. Dallas Divide
Home to Mount Sneffels, one of Colorado’s 58 fourteeners, as well as Wilson Peak, the mountain that inspired the infamous Coors beer logo, this stretch of wilderness offers endless scenic byways and trails from which to view the fall colors to your heart’s content.
10. Front Range
This 60 mile stretch of road begins in Boulder at the base of the Flatirons and runs through National and State Parks offering varied views of the changing leaves throughout.
Keep in mind all of these areas can be explored a number of ways. Hiking, driving, horse-back riding and even a hot-air balloon ride are unique ways to take in the views! Get out there and enjoy the vivid hues while you can!
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