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What are the best places to see fall colors in Colorado? If you’re wondering, you’re in luck! Ever since we moved to CO, the fall season has never ceased to amaze us.
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the US during the fall season. The aspen trees turn a stunning gold color, the mountains get sprinkled with shades of red and orange, and the air gets cooler.
Here are thirteen of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
Fall Colors in Colorado
Breckenridge is one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado because of its great location; it’s not far from Denver at all. The high altitude and diverse landscape create the perfect conditions for a vibrant autumn display.
The town is also home to several festivals and events that celebrate the season, making it the perfect destination for a fall getaway. They host their own Breckenridge Oktoberfest, a film festival, the Wine Classic, and more.
While there are many fun fall activities in Breck, some of the best include hiking, horseback riding, and biking. You could also go on a ghost tour if you’re in the mood for something spooky.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in the park. The park has everything from beautiful hikes and aspen groves to rocky alpine peaks and meadows.
In the fall, the leaves on the trees turn a beautiful gold or yellow, adding an extra layer of beauty to the already stunning landscape.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, and moose. Watching these animals wander through the changing landscape is an unforgettable experience.
The drive from Denver to Rocky Mountain isn’t bad at all, and it’s even more breathtaking in the fall because it goes through the mountains. Just remember that timed entry passes are required until early/mid-October.
Trail Ridge Road will also be breathtaking this time of year, if it’s open.
The town of Vail is located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies and is known for its world-class skiing. But what many people don’t know is that Vail is also one of the best places to see the fall colors!
The changing leaves provide a beautiful backdrop to the town’s snow-capped peaks (which, yes, do often start to show in the fall). And with so much to do in Vail, you’ll never run out of things to do while you’re here.
Spend the day going hiking, walking through the quaint European-style villages, or even riding the gondola to take in the view of the changing colors from above.
The best part? Fall is actually Vail’s shoulder season, so you can often snag lower prices for accommodations.
Grand Junction, Colorado, is a great place to see fall foliage because of the changing weather conditions. The trees in this area tend to show their colors a little later than in other parts of the state.
The aspens and cottonwoods turn a beautiful yellow and gold, and the leaves on the quaking aspens shimmer in the breeze. Grand Junction is also located near the Colorado National Monument, which is a great place to see fall colors from above.
Steamboat Springs is one of the more underrated places for fall colors in Colorado. The higher elevation and diverse landscape create a beautiful display of color in the autumn months.
The aspens, oaks, and maples turn a range of vibrant shades, from gold and yellow to red and orange, making it a great destination for leaf peepers.
In addition to the natural beauty, Steamboat Springs offers plenty of activities and attractions, including biking and hiking. Plus, the town is super cute and walkable, too.
So, if you’re looking for an autumn getaway that’s both scenic and fun, Steamboat Springs is definitely worth consideration!
Also known as the Switzerland of America, Ouray is truly one of the most breathtaking places to visit in all of CO, and it’s even more true in the fall. We visited for the first time during the month of October and were blown away, so we can vouch for its beauty.
The town is also known for its charming main street, which is lined with historic buildings and quaint shops. Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails, as well as a variety of restaurants and accommodations.
While you’re here, you can also drive the Million Dollar Highway, a scenic drive in Colorado that is not for those scared of heights, but gosh, the views are unbeatable, especially in the fall.
Obviously, this list would not be complete without Aspen, even though it is a very popular spot for winter. The leaves change color gradually as the autumn days grow shorter, creating a picturesque landscape that is perfect for a scenic drive or hike!
We love visiting Aspen in the fall, and one of the best things to do is just meander throughout Aspen’s downtown area. The shops are surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and there are some great small local stores that you can support in the area.
You could even hop on the gondola to take in the view of the mountains from a different vantage point!
Georgetown is located in the mountains of Colorado and is one of the best places to see fall colors. The trees in this area are filled with vibrant autumn leaves that create a beautiful spectacle in the fall.
In the fall, the best thing to do in Georgetown is to hop on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. These usually stop sometime in October and open back up in the spring, but it’s truly a sight to behold as you go through the beautiful trees!
What’s even better is that Georgetown is actually a great day trip from Denver.
Known for being home to the famous Flatirons section of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is absolutely beautiful in autumn. This town is really more of a college town, so it starts to come alive during this season.
Boulder has many parks and open spaces that are perfect for a nature hike or picnic lunch for you to enjoy the fall colors. Be sure to head over to Chautauqua Park for some of the best views or drive up to Lost Gulch Overlook.
Even if you end up visiting Denver without a car, you can actually get to Boulder by taking the Flatiron Flyer from downtown. We’ve done this a few times, and it’s a quick ride that’s about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic between the cities.
Crested Butte is located in the Gunnison National Forest, and the aspen trees in the area turn a beautiful yellow in the fall! The scenery is gorgeous, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in the autumn months.
Hiking, biking, and skiing are all popular activities in Crested Butte, and the town also has a vibrant arts scene. There is something for everyone in Crested Butte, and it is definitely one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
So many people forget that Colorado is also home to the panoramic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This is the first national park that we ever went to, and it still has our heart – plus, we first visited it in the fall!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado because of its unique geography. The canyon is deep and dark, and the leaves create an amazing contrast against the surrounding rocks.
The park also offers plenty of hiking trails and overlooks where you can take in the view. During the fall, there’s barely anyone at this park because most people rush to RMNP instead.
Telluride is surrounded by some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery, including rugged mountain peaks and valleys! This makes for a picturesque backdrop to the already colorful trees in the fall.
The small town is absolutely picturesque, and if you want a great view, be sure to stay in Mountain Village. This is where Telluride Ski Resort is, and the gondola can bring you up there, too. From that vantage point, you can see the entire area from above!
Be sure also to spend time walking around the beautiful Telluride town area. There are many lovely shops there.
Even though the Maroon Bells are located just outside of Aspen, we felt that they deserved their own spot on this list. They are truly some of the most beautiful mountains in Colorado.
Keep in mind that through October, a reservation is required to access this area. Most people will opt to get day reservations, but we made ours for around 5 p.m., and there was barely anyone there. Plus, we were able to watch the sunset over the mountains!
FAQ: Fall colors in Colorado
Where are the best places to see fall colors in Colorado?
Look for golden aspens, vibrant red oaks, and fiery cottonwoods from mid-September through early October in high mountain meadows and valleys. Some of the most popular Colorado fall foliage spots include Aspen, Ouray, and Grand Junction.
When is the best time to experience fall foliage in Colorado?
The ideal time to experience autumn’s splendor is mid-September to early October; however, this window can vary.
What other activities can I do while looking for fall foliage?
The cooler temperatures make it perfect for camping trips or hikes around your chosen destination. Mountain towns come alive during this time with plenty of art shows and festivals, such as Oktoberfest celebrations happening all over the state. And if you time it right, you might just catch a bit of snow up high in some parts of Colorado!
What kind of weather should I expect while looking for fall foliage?
Fall months tend to be cooler than summer months in Colorado so dress in layers and pack appropriate gear like rain jackets just in case there’s bad weather during your visit!
Final Thoughts: Colorado Fall Colors
The color of fall in Colorado is breathtaking, with golden aspens and bright red leaves that seem to glow.
From the brilliant yellow of Rocky Mountain National Park to the rainbow of colors near Telluride, Colorado has plenty of amazing peak foliage colors for you to explore.
No matter where you go in the state, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
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