With the abundance of aspen trees, Colorado provides a number of opportunities to see beautiful fall colors. However, Colorado weather is notoriously unpredictable, especially in between seasons, which makes it difficult to determine the optimal time to see colors. The higher the altitude, the earlier the colors change. While in other parts of the country, the most beautiful color changes happen in October, most of Colorado’s high country, especially the aspen trees, tend to change color in September. There are a number of places in the Denver metro area and foothills that people can go to experience autumn foliage, many of which make a nice drive from Denver or are located nearby at local parks and paths.
Trail Ridge Road
A drive unto itself regardless of the season, Trail Ridge Road is one of the best drives in Colorado regardless of when you drive it. The highway connects Estes Park to Grand Lake, and 11 of the 48 miles are above tree line. But before and after the crest of the drive, motorists will be treated to a wide array of colors. Be sure to check road conditions before you go as weather changes quickly, and once snow plows are no longer able to keep up with the snow, the road closes for the season.
Peak to Peak Scenic Highway
From I-70 to Estes Park, this 3-hour drive provides beautiful views of yellow and golden colored Aspen trees. Passing numerous mountains and hiking opportunities along the way and even a few mines that will allow visitors to pan for gold (for a small fee), the byway was established in 1918 and is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway.
Running roughly 22 miles from Georgetown to Grant, Guanella Pass is only open while the weather permits. Much of the drive goes over tree line, but drivers will pass various types of environments and beautiful colors along the way. Those who make the drive will be treated to beautiful views of Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans, and a drive back through Bailey allows for a stop at the iconic Coney Island Hot dog stand.
Highline Canal & Denver Parks
Even in the Denver metro area, there are numerous opportunities to experience fall colors. Various types of trees line Denver area parks, and there are many opportunities to play in the leaves and experience fall. The Highline Canal too offers multiple opportunities to enter and exit, and there are numerous views of the mountains and changing colors. Be aware that colors in the lower altitudes change a bit later, so take note of what is happening to the trees and pick a nice weekend day for a walk.
The best way to ensure you see some of Colorado’s color is to plot out a weekend to take a drive or a hike without a specific destination set. While it’s good to have options picked out ahead of time, be sure to check the Online to determine of your set destination has already achieved optimal color and consider changing destinations depending on projections.