Where to Experience Colorado's Fall Leaves
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Where to Experience Colorado’s Fall Leaves

maroon bells fall

Fall is the only time of year when Mother Nature changes her features so drastically, and what a sight it is! The entire state of Colorado transforms from emerald green into vibrant russet and rustic hues, with visitors and locals alike basking in each fiery flicker of the aspens against a clear autumn sky. 

At higher altitudes, this transformation begins as early as September, with Denver and lower altitude areas experiencing the changing leaves in late September or October. No matter where you find yourself in Colorado during this season, you will be able to experience the state’s beautiful fall foliage.

fall foliage aspen trees

 Denver 

The perfect place for a Fall visit in the city is Denver’s Botanical Gardens. As you approach the gardens, you will find scarecrows and pumpkins ushering visitors inside. As you meander through each section of this serene palace, you are engulfed by fall’s energy, as over 15,000 plants slowly melt into individual rainbow kaleidoscopes of color, displayed like jewels from garden to garden. The gardens are truly a serene and exciting experience, with kids running around, couples holding hands, and everyone excited by Fall’s crisp energy. 

fall botanical gardens

Steamboat Springs 

Steamboat is an eccentric little town nestled on the Yampa River. The quiet atmosphere and many ways to relax make it easy to enjoy fall here. Downtown Steamboat Springs sports a few wooden buildings and feels downright cozy, like a Hallmark movie, and every road in and out of this town offers astounding mountain backdrops in glowing oranges and bright yellows.  

Rabbit Ears Pass is one of the most popular routes between Steamboat and Kremmling, crossing the Continental Divide and providing stunning views the entire way at over 10,000 feet. Its name derives from views of distinctive peaks, with formations resembling rabbit ears. Once you have had enough of the chilly weather, don’t forget to stop by one of the nearby hot springs for a few moments of reflection (which are cheaper this time of year). Enjoy the steam and sound of bubbling as you immerse yourself in nature!

woman in hot tub

Kremmling 

Colorado is known for a smorgasbord of easily accessible outdoor activities, and it really does not disappoint, especially during fall. One unique fall activity is a float trip on the Colorado River. Paddling, kayaking, or even stand up paddle boarding will allow you to absorb fall’s colors from an entirely different perspective!

You can enjoy a connection like never before as you ride on the waves and soak in that golden aspen breeze.  With the Colorado River’s vibrant diversity, you may also spot wildlife such as beavers, waterfowl, hawks, and eagles.

Kremmling, Colorado also offers a sense of solitude like nowhere else on the planet in the fall. The mighty evergreens paired with red rocky dirt and dramatic mountains sprinkled with fluttery yellow aspens create a diverse environment that makes you feel as if you are floating through an alien planet. This town makes slowing down and connecting with nature easy, especially when fall’s leaves are in full display. 

Stand Up Paddle Board Day Rental Package

Georgetown and Idaho Springs

In Georgetown, you have the opportunity to view the fall colors from a historical steam train, appreciating Colorado’s scenery and the area’s rich mining history. Step aboard the Georgetown Railroad train in Idaho Springs and step into a time machine; the smell of burning coal and fresh mountain air gives you a certain sense of 19th-century nostalgia. CHOO! CHOO! You can almost feel the gentle hum of the engine reverberating through the air!

Another unique and exciting way to appreciate the blazing autumn forest is from within the trees on AVA’s Idaho Springs’ Cliffside Zipline or Mount Evans Via Ferrata courses! Fly high above Idaho Springs and Chicago Creek or climb into the mountainside, as the cool fall breeze ruffles your hair and the bright orange and yellow leaves greet you from every angle.  

Our last pick in this area is the St. Mary’s Glacier. Hike a short 1.6 miles to a beautiful glacier lake, surrounded by fall foliage and greeted by sunning views at the top. For a short hike, this trail offers some of the best views in the area. 

Breckenridge 

Breckenridge’s is a gem for any outdoor enthusiast looking for an exciting leaf-peeping adventure. The fall is perfect for exploring the area by bike, with opportunities for every rider to enjoy the outdoors. The place is home to beautiful rust-colored aspen groves and offers hundreds of miles of biking trails for all skill levels. The Summit County Recreational Path system offers family-friendly biking for miles, with opportunities to ride around the Dillon Reservoir.

If you are looking to catch some technical turf, I would travel the Flume Trail. A trail not for the faint of heart, this single-track has a few challenging bridges and steep cliffs along the way but boasts some humbling views of the Tenmile Range. Be sure to check out our favorite local bike shop, Breckenridge Ski & Sport to pick up your bike rental and get started!

Biking in Breck

Vail 

Vail in the Fall is an unforgettable destination, with the Gondola ride offering astounding views. The ride up is about 15-20 minutes giving you plenty of time to check out the breathtaking foliage and catch your breath! The top then boasts numerous activities, including numerous hiking trails and food with a VIEW. If you are more of an adrenaline seeker, bike on Vail’s trail network, or downhill from Vail Resort’s gondola (through October 1st), or take a jeep tour and explore the fall foliage.

Ridgway Colorado, fall

Aspen 

Another unforgettable way to experience the Rockies in the fall is a stop at Maroon Bells, just 10 miles from Aspen. These two distinctive peaks are some of the most visited and photographed natural attractions in Colorado and are especially stunning in the Fall. The Bells themselves are made of 2 colossal peaks that rise well above the surrounding wilderness. 

maroon bells fall

The area offers six trailheads, including hikes ranging from easy walks to difficult 14ers. Visitors can additionally explore Maroon Lake, the breathtaking base of the Maroon Bells. Before your trip, be sure to check out reservation and parking information.  

There are plenty of memorable ways to spend this quintessential time of year that will leave you astounded at Colorado’s unmatched fall foliage!

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