It’s hard to choose a favorite season in Colorado, but the brilliant yellow and gold of the changing Aspen trees during Fall Foliage season make it a top contender. Colorado’s leaf season is fairly short, starting in Mid-September and peaking by Mid-October, so we have rounded up some of our favorite leafing adventures to ensure you don’t miss out on the fun.
Last Dollar Road is a winding unpaved road from Ridgway to Telluride that is perfect for a first time offroad adventure-er. You will drive through a beautiful forest of Aspens and have unparalleled views of the Sneffels Mountain Range and Wilson Peak. 4WD vehicles and a camera are a must!
Directions: From Ridgeway travel 12 miles west towards Telluride on Highway 145. Turn left on “Last Dollar Road” and your adventure can begin!
Maroon Bells just might be the most photographed and visited place in Colorado, and it’s easy to see why in Autumn, when you can hike through the valley surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks and sun-dappled golden Aspen leaves. With several different hikes in this area, from the easy 1.3 mile Maroon Lake Scenic Trail to the more challenging 4.6 mile Buckskin Pass, you are sure to find a ramble that suits your interests and skill level.
Directions: Take I-70 toward Glenwood Springs. Take exit 116 toward CO-82/Glenwood Springs/Aspen. Turn Left onto N River Drive. Turn right onto Grand Ave/CO-82. Enter roundabout and take 1st exit onto Maroon Creek Rd.
From about the mid-June until early October, you can drive Maroon Creek road to the Maroon Bells trailhead before 8am and after 5pm. From 8am to 5pm, visitors must take a 10-15 minute shuttle bus ride to the trailhead. The shuttle lot is located at Aspen Highlands, a local ski area. However, there is a cost for the bus ride, and to drive Maroon Creek road, so plan accordingly. Early October to Mid-November you can drive Maroon Creek road to the trailhead any day and any time of the week.
West Elk Wilderness is one of the least well known and visited large wildernesses in Colorado, but the breathtaking vistas, volcanic cliffs, and large unspoiled aspen and spruce forests make it a place worth visiting. West Elk Wilderness is a perfect backpacking location for the adventurous hiker, and you will have plenty of opportunity to see the thousands of Elk and Deer that live on the land.
Direction: From Gunnison go north on Highway 135. Make a left on Ohio Creek Road (USFS 730)
Kebler Pass is a high mountain pass near Crested Butte famous for hosting the largest Aspen Grove in Colorado. Sometimes biggest isn’t always better but in this case it’s pretty spectacular. In addition to the typical gold Aspens you will find some Aspens stands at the top of the pass that turn red. All in all a breathtaking view!
Directions: From Crested Butte take CO-12 (Whiterock Avenue) west out of town. This road climbs up and over Kebler Pass where it then intersects with Highway 133. Turn right to go south towards Somerset, Paonia and Hotchkiss or north towards Carbondale.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) is a narrow-gauge heritage railroad that operates 45.2 miles of track along the Animas River between Durango and Silverton. The train ride boasts amazing views in any season, but the glorious Aspen trees of the San Juan Mountains are a sight to behold. Definitely a must do for train and nature lovers alike.
Directions: The train depot is located at 479 Main Ave. in Durango. Park at the D&SNG parking lot (209 W College Drive) next to the rail yard at the corner of U.S. Hwy 550 and College Drive.
Ouzel Falls is a stunning 40 foot waterfall located in Rocky Mountain National Park. Start your hike to Ouzel Falls at The Wild Basin Trailhead in the southeastern corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. You will pass several attractions along the way including Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades before reaching Ouzel Falls 2.7 miles in. As you ascend you will see wonderful peek-a-boo views of Longs Peak and Mt. Meeker peeking through the changing trees.
Directions: From Estes Park: Drive 12 miles south on Colorado Highway 7 to the Wild Basin Road junction and turn right. After driving 0.4 miles make another right turn into the park. The Wild Basin Trailhead is located roughly 2 miles from the park turn-off.
Mueller State Park has 5,000 acres of spring fed meadows, massive granite rocks, and several ponds, and is home to huge amounts of wildlife, including elk, black bear, hawks, muse deer, and bighorn sheep. The scenic mixed pine and Aspen forest is perfectly viewed from a Mountain Bike, where you can adventure along 18 miles of bike worthy trail, all with a well-packed surface of decomposed granite.
Directions: Take U.S. Highway 24 west from Colorado Springs to Divide. Turn left (south) on Colorado Highway 67 and drive about four miles to the park’s entrance.
Peak to Peak was established in 1918, making it Colorado’s oldest scenic byway. This is a lovely drive, made more lovely in the fall by the copious golden Aspen stands. There are several gravel roads that lead to old Ghost Towns or high country lakes making this the perfect drive for adventurous leaf hunters with a variety of interests.
Directions: From Estes Park take CO-7 E. Turn right on CO-72 E. Continue onto CO-119 towards Blackhawk.