We’ve all seen these dreamy pictures of Colorado’s golden aspens spreading throughout mountains and valleys as fall descends on the Rockies. They’re a sight to behold, lighting up the mountainsides like hearth.
As Colorado residents (and lovers of autumn), we’ve spent lots of time roaming round our state looking for the very best locations to view gorgeous Colorado fall foliage.
On this put up, we’ve put collectively a 4-day Colorado fall street journey itinerary so you can even expertise the autumn colours in Colorado first-hand. From probably the most scenic mountain cross drives to our favourite fall hikes, there’s one thing for each outside adventurer.
Necessary Reminder: Because it goes in all the locations we share, please observe good path etiquette and bear in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out your entire rubbish (together with rest room paper), being respectful to others, and following the established guidelines.
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Fall in Colorado: An Overview
Rising up in Denver, it all the time appeared like the nice and cozy, lazy days of summer time immediately became darkish, snowy dredge of winter. There have been solely a handful of days with cool temps and altering leaves.
If Fall did make an look for greater than a few days, although, it was within the mountains.
Though it‘s normally temporary, Fall within the Colorado mountains is the best.
Temperatures have cooled down and the climate is steady sufficient to spend all day exterior with out getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms (make sure you pack your fall mountaineering layers although!).
Fall can also be a shoulder season for tourism, so the crowds are largely gone and there are nice offers to be discovered. However most of all, the leaves, they’re a-changing!
In Colorado, which means the aspens flip GOLD. Seeing the aspen colours at their peak in late September/early October is a lifetime must-do.
I’ve a private affinity for street journeys, so beneath I’ve outlined the final Colorado fall street journey. It covers your complete state, with every leg of the journey hitting the largest and finest aspen groves.
Relying in your fall street journey time constraints, you are able to do the entire itinerary as one journey or tackle any of the person legs for a day or weekend escape from Denver whereas the leaves are altering. You’ll not be disillusioned!
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4-Day Colorado Fall Highway Journey Itinerary
Every leg of this fall Colorado fall foliage itinerary features a bonus hike as an choice so you’ll be able to try the fantastic thing about the autumn colours up shut and stretch your legs a bit.
Detailed driving instructions may be discovered by clicking on MAP beneath every driving leg, sending you to a Google map for that particular leg.
The driving is all on highways, so any passenger automotive ought to have the ability to deal with it, no four-wheel-drive needed.
Leg 1: Denver to Vail
- Route: Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park and Steamboat Springs – MAP
- Distance: 319 miles
- Drive time: 7.5 hours
We begin off this fall street journey with a bang.
Bonus Hike: Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park
Benefit from your park entrance price in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park by stretching your legs on this 2.4-mile roundtrip hike.
Views stretch again into Glacier Gorge towards the Continental Divide and Longs Peak, with aspens altering beneath. Get extra path data right here.
For different hikes within the Park, try our information on the Finest Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park.
Leg 2: Vail to Crested Butte
- Route: Aspen and Carbondale – MAP
- Distance: 207 miles
- Drive time: 6 hours
This leg of the street journey is the spotlight. Don’t get me improper, all over the place on this itinerary is spectacular, however the mixture of Vail, Independence, McClure, and Kebler Passes is likely to be magnificence overload.
Every cross alone may very well be a weekend (or week-long) journey. However right here they mix to kind leg two of our final Colorado fall colours street journey.
The driving distance on this leg is a bit shorter, however you’ll need each second to cease for pictures and soak within the magnificence.
Bonus Hike: Capitol Lake by way of the Capitol Ditch Path
Lose a number of the leaf-peeping crowds that flock to Maroon Lake close to Aspen and turn out to be surrounded by aspen timber on this lovely 12-mile out and again.
Heads up, the street to this trailhead requires excessive clearance (~7 inches) 4WD for the final mile. Get extra path data right here.
Leg 3: Crested Butte to Pagosa Springs
- Route: Silverton and Durango – MAP
- Distance: 259 miles
- Drive time: 5.5 hours
Leg 3 is one other shorter day drive time-wise, however for good purpose. You’re heading all the way down to the western slope after which past into the San Juans, Colorado’s most dramatic mountain vary which are sometimes amplified by fall aspen leaf magnificence.
Bonus Hike: The Colorado Path from Molas Move to the Animas River
This hike is a bit of backward, which makes it type of enjoyable. Begin on the high of Molas Move and hike down on the Colorado Path to the Animas River and the practice tracks of the Durango-Silverton Slim Gauge railway.
On the way in which, you’ll cross into the tree line (and thru aspens in fact) with close-up views of the spectacular Vestal Peak.
It’s 4 miles all the way down to the river, dropping 3,000 toes within the course of. Bear in mind, you’ll should climb all the way in which again up should you make all of it the way in which all the way down to the river!
Bonus Driving Leg: Dallas Divide from Ridgway in direction of Telluride, CO-62
I wished this street journey to be a real loop with no backtracking. That meant reducing off a few spots that didn’t fairly match.
However Dallas Divide and Telluride are SO BEAUTIFUL within the fall, I’ve to no less than point out them.
When you’ve got the time, the views on this space are nicely well worth the effort to show round and head again the way in which you got here.
Try a number of the finest hikes in Telluride whilst you’re there.
Leg 4: Pagosa Springs to Denver
- Route: Salida, Fairplay, and Georgetown – MAP
- Distance: 389 miles
- Drive time: 8 hours
Bonus Hike: San Luis Peak between Saguache and Gunnison
If the climate is favorable, San Luis Peak is probably the most distant fourteener in Colorado.
It’s an superior 13-mile, class 1 path that rewards hikers with some golden aspens on the way in which to the highest. Get extra path data right here.
Whew, there you’ve got it! Twenty-seven hours of a number of the prettiest fall colours in Colorado driving on the earth, actually.
Fall is probably the most great time of the yr in Colorado for a street journey; now get on the market and luxuriate in!
When you’re searching for extra Colorado street journey sources, try these weblog posts:
Are you planning a Colorado fall street journey? The place is your favourite place to see Colorado fall foliage? Go away a remark beneath!