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September signals the perfect time for a spectacular color show in our beautiful backyard with those quaking aspen leaves turning vibrant shades of gold all across the state. Generally, color peaks in the Northern part of our state first then works its way south. For the latest leaf report, call the U.S. Forest Service Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595.
Where better to start your quest for color than near the appropriately named town of Aspen. Catch a shuttle bus leaving from Aspen most weekends or spend a weekend and reserve a campsite along Maroon Creek Road. Be sure to drive all the way to the picturesque Maroon Lake for a postcard-worthy snapshot of mountain peaks and golden trees.
Peak-to-Peak Scenic and Historic Byway
Established in 1918, this scenic byway is Colorado’s oldest and offers breathtaking views of aspen-filled valleys as it goes from Black Hawk and Central City all the way to Estes Park. Take in a visit to the casinos and stretch your legs in Rocky Mountain National Park along the way.
Guanella Pass Road Scenic and Historic Byway
Head to historic Georgetown and you’ll find this 22-mile route that was originally an old wagon trail used by miners. Today, drivers can take in groves of glowing aspen along this hour-long drive. Once you reach the town of Grant, turn right on Highway 285 and travel 15 minutes to the top of Kenosha Pass for a stunning finish to your day.
West Elk Loop
Touching three national forests and a diverse landscape of meadows, rivers and canyons, this winding 205-mile byway runs through the Crystal River Valley in Colorado’s western slope through Paonia, Gunnison, Crested Butte and Carbondale. Don’t miss the west side of Kebler Pass for the brightest leaves.
San Juan Skyway
The Ouray to Silverton stretch of this well-known scenic drive is known as the “Million Dollar Highway” and with good reason, with all that aspen gold along the way. You’ll take in stunning alpine valleys thick with aspen trees and picturesque relics of the Old West. Stop in Mesa Verde National Park to see the prehistoric ruins and cliff dwellings.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Here is proof that you won’t have to venture far from Denver’s city limits to get your fall foliage fix. Head southwest of Idaho Springs and then ascend to an altitude of 14,264 feet. Along with changing leaves, you’ll enjoy seeing bighorn sheep, alpine lakes and the pristine Echo Lake.
Cache la Poudre – North Park
Head west from Fort Collins to the quiet valley of North Park just west of the Continental Divide where you’ll find plenty of grazing elk, deer and moose among the changing aspen leaves. Stop for a picnic lunch along the Cache la Poudre river to make your fall viewing complete.