5 Ways to Enjoy Fall Colors in Colorado

Fall in Colorado is beautiful. As the temperature begins to drop, we’re treated to a dazzling array of red, orange and yellow colors dotting the treetops across the state. It’s no wonder that many people consider this their favorite time of year.

If you’re looking to enjoy the fall foliage, you should start planning your excursion now. We’re starting to enter the peak season for colors in the mountains, and these areas should be vibrant for the next few weeks. As we get into mid-October, it may be a little late to see the leaves in the mountains, but the colors along the Front Range will start reaching their peak.

Not sure about the best way to experience fall colors? We’ve got you covered. The following list will give you plenty of options for leaf peeping adventures this autumn.

State and National Parks

Colorado State and National Parks provide an abundance of opportunities to experience fall colors. While there are fees to enter these parks, it is well worth the price of admission.

One of our favorite spots is Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This park contains nearly 12,000 acres of land just outside Denver, and it’s loaded with aspens that will flash bright yellowish-gold colors during the fall months. There’s plenty of camping here, and lots of hiking trails to enjoy the colors. The Panorama Point Scenic Overlook is a must-see while you’re in the park, as it looks out on 100 miles of the Continental Divide.

You also won’t regret visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to check out the fall colors. Due to the elevation, you’ll want to get up there within the next two weeks if you want to catch the best foliage. The aspens in the park will provide rich yellow and red colors from mid-September to early October. You have a variety of options to enjoy the colors at Rocky Mountain National Park – explore the massive web of hiking trails, or simply take a scenic drive to soak in a larger area in an afternoon.

Scenic Drives

scenic highway for fall foliage in the Colorado mountains

Most of us have saved a lot of money on gas during the pandemic. Time to fill the tank and head out on a road trip. There is an abundance of scenic drives in the mountains that will let you experience the diversity of fall colors Colorado has to offer. Some of the best mountain drives for enjoying the fall foliage include:

  • Highway 6 from Golden to Idaho Springs – This beautiful drive is easy to access from Denver and will take you through the heart of Clear Creek Canyon. The winding curves can make this drive a bit slow, but that just gives you more time to enjoy the beautiful colors and breathtaking canyon views.
  • Hoosier Pass – Hoosier Pass lies between Alma and Breckenridge. It’s located along the Continental Divide and contains some incredible fall scenery. Due to the heavy traffic on weekends, we recommend taking this drive during the week if at all possible.
  • Peak to Peak Highway – Peak to Peak Highway is a great way to experience a scenic mountain drive along the edge of the mountains. The highway runs from Estes Park (at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park) and winds through Nederland on its way to Black Hawk. Enjoy vibrant shades of yellows and oranges along this drive.
  • Independence Pass – Independence Pass takes you over the Continental Divide, arriving in Aspen. The trees here are spectacular in the fall, but the steep, windy, narrow road is not for the faint of heart. Check with CDOT before heading out on this drive because it may be closed due to fires or early snow.
  • San Juan Scenic Skyway – This loop in Southwest Colorado spans over 200 miles and takes you through some of the most beautiful towns in Colorado, including Telluride, Ouray, Durango and Cortez. Make sure you bring a bathing suit so that you can enjoy some of the hot springs along this drive.
  • Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway – This highway will take you through Buena Vista and Salida, where you can enjoy the beauty of some of Colorado’s most famous 14ers. Take a dip in Cottonwood hot springs or Mt. Princeton hot springs to break up the drive and enjoy the leaves in a more relaxed setting.
  • Kebler Pass – Located near Gunnison, Kebler Pass contains the largest aspen grove in North America. This is a great spot to photograph the vibrant fall aspen colors. The pass is unpaved, so make sure your vehicle can handle the terrain.

Hiking

Fall is a great time to take advantage of Colorado’s hiking trails. The extreme summer heat has broken, and the cooler temperatures will make these trails much more enjoyable. As an added bonus, you can soak in the beautiful fall colors along many of these hikes. Some of our favorite spots include:

  • Maroon Bells – The majestic Maroon Bells peaks are just south of Aspen. Fall hikes in this area provide one of the best ways to enjoy the vibrant colors of the aspen trees in the region.
  • Buena Vista – This tiny mountain town is nestled in the middle of the collegiate peaks, giving you a chance to summit several 14ers. This is a great way to enjoy the fall colors.
  • Indian Peaks Wilderness – Located near Nederland, the Indian Peaks Wilderness gives you a wide range of hiking trails to choose from. Due to its location along the Front Range, this area provides convenient day trip hiking options to enjoy fall colors.
  • Flash of Gold Trail – This trail located on Buffalo Pass near Steamboat. There are many opportunities to experience beautiful fall foliage along this 11+ mile hike.

Scenic Train Ride

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for seeing fall colors in ColoradoScenic drives are fun, but it’s understandable if you want a more relaxing experience than is possible behind the wheel of a car. Fortunately, there are several scenic train rides that will take you through some beautiful fall foliage:

  • Georgetown Loop Railroad – This train ride takes you through Georgetown and Silver Plume, giving you access to vibrant tree colors.
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – Enjoy golden aspen groves and rushing rivers on this train ride, which gives you access to the beautiful landscape in the San Juan National Forest.

Denver Area Parks

If you miss the peak mountain foliage, you’ll still have plenty of chances to experience the colors in Denver throughout mid-to-late October. Go for a leisurely afternoon stroll or bring your bike to enjoy the leaf peeping opportunities in our local parks. Some of the best places to experience fall colors include:

  • Washington Park
  • Sloan’s Lake
  • City Park
  • Cherry Creek State Park

Schedule a Fall Foliage Family Photo Shoot Today

The beautiful fall foliage is a great backdrop for family photo shoots. Monty Nuss Photography can help you capture this beauty in a variety of locations near the Denver area. With our Uniquely You Experience™ approach to photography, we can help you capture these moments in a way that delivers family portraits you’ll cherish for years to come. This approach involves:

  • Getting to know you and understand your goals for the photo session
  • Providing guidance on wardrobe for your photo shoot
  • Coordinating the right backgrounds to complement your wardrobe and personal style
  • Our “barely there” retouch enhancements, which provide a beautiful, natural image
  • Exceptional quality fueled by the newest systems and processes
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Free session when you come back for other life celebrations

Please contact us today to schedule your photo shoot. We serve clients in the Denver, Colorado area.