The extra chilly morning air means fall colors in Colorado are about to hit peak visual magnificence. This promenade of autumn colors is best experienced from September through the middle of October and is especially prevalent in these seven best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
Check them out and experience a side of Colorado you otherwise wouldn’t the rest of the year!
Before the Drive
We know you’re excited and we don’t blame you! But there’s a checklist to consider before you go on that fall road trip. Everything should be in order, the tires, in particular, to ensure a safe and smooth trip with little to no mishaps.
Always check the tire pressure before you hit the road. The tire loses a bit of pressure and can get slightly flat when you drive to higher altitudes. The air gets “thinner” and the temperature drops the higher you go, which also contributes to tire pressure loss.
A day trip would call for filling the tires to the required PSI before you get going and ensuring they’re neither underinflated nor overinflated. Your tires will still lose around two pounds per square inch of pressure as you ascend from five thousand to 10 thousand feet, but they should regain it upon descent.
For a trip that’s expected to last a few days, it’s recommended you inspect and set the tire pressure once you arrive at altitude and when you return home.
Also, always check the weather and road conditions. Weather can get unpredictable in the fall and you won’t always know what kind of roads greet you as a result. Know what the day’s weather has in store before hitting the road.
How Long Do Fall Colors Last in Colorado?
Aspen forests start glowing radiant yellows, bright oranges, and dazzling reds come the end of August, continuing their color ascension until about mid-October. Fall colors should still be prevalent until the start of December in some states, but the foliage would have been past its prime then.
What Is the Best Time to See Fall Colors in Colorado?
We hear how amazing Colorado in autumn is, but when does it become virtually unrivaled?
Fall colors will start showing up around late August or early September. However, peak colors might not make their entrance until mid-September to mid-October.
So, if you’re looking to pay any of the places below a visit, it’s best to do so during the said period. If you missed out on the window, something you can do to get over the disappointment (and get over it quickly, we may add) is going on a Food Tour! Denver is the place to be for the best culinary excursions.
Best Places to See Fall Colors in Colorado
The autumn season is never as beautiful in Colorado as it is in these specific locations:
You probably saw this one coming because come on, it’s Aspen!
Aspen is a sight to behold whatever time of the year it is, Fall and Winter included. The clusters of impressive townhouses painted with hues of brilliant yellows and golden bronze are a visual treat during golden hour.
Scenic attractions aside, the place also boasts tons of exciting outdoor activities. You’ll cross Independence Pass, North America’s highest paved pass, on your way to Aspen.
It peaks at over 3,600 meters above sea level and showcases some of the most wondrous fall foliage exhibitions in the world. There truly is nothing like it!
To witness another equally stunning display, you can drive to Maroon Bells from Aspen. There, you can see an array of brilliant fall colors shaped as jagged mountain peaks reflected on Maroon Lake.
2. Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the top 10 must-visit state parks, and with good reason. It’s more than just a fall attraction; it offers an array of exciting outdoor activities to do all year round. This includes climbing, picnics, mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is also a prime location for wildlife watching. Birders from all over the world convene at this destination to observe over 75 species of fowl, including wild turkeys, blue grouse, and golden eagles, in the wild.
3. Guanella Pass
Guanella Pass is an 11-mile stretch of road between Georgetown and the trailhead in Mount Bierstadt. Get the best leaf-peeping experience while driving down this path filled with dazzling yellows, vivid reds, and brilliant oranges offset by contrasting greens.
4. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park never ceases to amaze no matter the time of year, but fall is when it’s truly at its most spellbinding. Some of the most sensational autumn hues and sceneries are found in Trail Ridge Road, which stretches from Estes Park to Grand Lake and is the highest paved road in North America.
Another reason to visit this park in the fall is the elk mating season when the male elks start vying for the attention of females.
5. Kebler Pass
Kebler Pass, one of the most photographed locations in Colorado in autumn, is another site you won’t want to miss out on. It covers the 30-mile stretch of road between Highway 33 and Crested Butte, extending past 10,000 feet in elevation past the Keystone Mine.
The road also covers the once-thriving mining towns of Ruby and Irwin, the Telco lumber camp, and coal-mining Floresta. The location boasts North America’s largest aspen grove, with aspen stands peeking out between evergreen trees.
Ohio Creek Rd. is a great place to start, as it passes a variety of natural sceneries such as the sequence of ranch houses that mark the jaw-dropping spires of “The Castles” and the abandoned Castleton. You can still see traces of the volcanic ruin brought about by the West Elk Volcano eruption some 30 million years ago.
6. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs has a bunch of beautiful sites for leaf peeping, including Buffalo Pass, a dirt road west of the area that’s lined with rows of stunning aspen groves. The pass snakes eight miles up to Summit Lake and the Continental divide, showcasing wondrous vistas of the surrounding greenery.
The Steamboat Lake Loop is also quite a sight. It has vast clusters of multicolored aspen trees and tourist-friendly hiking trails that surround the lake and Hahn’s Peak hovering majestically in the background.
7. Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Forty-five minutes away from Denver is a 12,000-acre pine and aspen forest called Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It’s a fine location for fishing, hiking, biking, and, of course, leaf-peeping. You can find clusters of gorgeous aspens in the canyons and see across a hundred miles of forest along the Continental Divide from the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook.
To get an even closer look, you can hike to Mule Deep Loop. You can not only check out the scenery from the overlook but walk through a stunning, aspen-lined trail.
The Beauty of Colorado in the Fall
Not many natural locations can match the beauty of Colorado in the Fall, and these best places to see fall colors in Colorado cement this.
Even so, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, as there are tons of other color-filled attractions to check out in the state. Like the seven must-visit locations in this post, these other spots also showcase the very best of Colorado’s autumn hues.
Indeed, Colorado’s beauty might be more spellbinding in the fall than it is during any other season. Still, don’t let this make you overlook the importance of being a safe and responsible tourist. Make sure you take the necessary steps to safeguard both yourself and Mother Nature before going on your adventure.