Aspens take center stage come autumn in Colorado. The aspen is the most prominent tree turning colors at this time in their groves or clusters. You find the tree in clusters due to its ability to clone itself by sprouting new trees from its extensive underground root system. When you look at an aspen grove, you likely see the same tree over and over again with the potential of that grove, and its root system, having lasted thousands of years.
Colorado’s high elevations are aspens’ wonderland. Make an effort to get to some of these prime-viewing destinations.
It makes sense that the town carrying the tree’s moniker would be a color-spotting locale. The Maroon Bells, made up of two peaks towering 14,000 feet, are the most photographed mountains in North America and boast amazing fall colors. This area can get crowded, so check out transportation options for the area. Hiking in and around Aspen’s fall colors is another great way to experience fall. Cathedral Lake, American Lake, Hunter Creek, and Crater Lake allow you to enjoy nature’s splendor on foot.
Kebler Pass, a short drive outside of the quaint mountain town of Crested Butte, is home to one of the largest aspen groves in the world. With each tree growing from a single root, it is one, single living organism. The Kebler Pass road is an improved dirt road, so take note of the conditions and be sure to make time for a hike at Lost Lake.
No one stumbles upon Telluride. It’s a destination and a beautiful spot tucked in the San Juan Mountains to take in nature’s autumnal show. The vibrant golds and yellows pop in mid to late September and last approximately three weeks. Check out the area by air with the free, dog-friendly Telluride Mountain Village gondola.
Make your way to the Switzerland of America to experience its pristine fall colors. Ouray has a number of ways to soak in the season, including natural hot springs, hiking through the mountains, including the Dallas Trail, and taking a drive along the Million Dollar Highway south to Silverton. Note: The Million Dollar Highway is not for the faint of heart. The driver needs to watch the road while passengers take in the majesty of the mountains.
The world’s largest flattop mountain hugs the eastern edge of Palisade and Grand Junction. Travel along the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway, stop at one of the 300 trout-filled lakes to cast a line or hike through the aspens at one of the many trails accessible from the road. Mingle among locals and visitors alike at Powderhorn Mountain Resort during its Color Sunday celebration. Fall is also the perfect time to take advantage of the resort’s downhill mountain biking trails.
The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a prime fall weekend getaway.
Hiking is, yet again, one of the best ways to see the fall colors. Gem Lake, Bierstadt Lake, and Glacier Creek are just a few hikes that offer breathtaking views. Make your way into the National Park to view the colors. Bear Lake Road is an ideal road for viewing the golden yellows. With its high elevation, the area, including Estes Park, hosts its share of wildlife, especially elk. Be aware fall is mating season, so keep a safe distance.
If you can’t make it to these specific locations, get yourself most anywhere above 5,000 feet, and you’ll get your fill of Colorado’s fall color phenomenon.