While summer is the season of adventure in Colorado, autumn is also bursting with plenty to do and see. Nature lovers can marvel at the glorious colors of the changing leaves. Families can explore pumpkin patches, apple orchards, and corn mazes. Thrill-seekers can get their kicks through haunted attractions. Just like any other season, fall in Colorado has something for everybody. Attend festivals, explore the wilderness, and get a true taste of autumn with these top Colorado fall activities for visitors and locals of all ages.
While many of Colorado’s most popular autumn activities face uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19, there’s still plenty of fun to be had this fall. Visit festival websites for the most up-to-date information regarding cancellations, postponements, or health and safety accommodations. Meanwhile, many of Colorado’s trails and parks remain open for responsible visitors to enjoy.
Hit the Road (or Railroad)
You can’t go through autumn without enjoying the fall foliage, and there’s no better place to do so than Colorado’s roads and railroads. Hop in the car and drive out to catch some of the most breathtaking views in the aspen groves of the high country. There are plenty of routes and paths to explore around the continental divide and through state and national parks. You can also check out foliage prediction maps and other recommendations to find the best views possible. If you don’t want to do the driving yourself, consider a guided tour or a train ride through the autumn landscape. There are plenty of iconic railroads that will take you the best scenery the state has to offer. You can even find themed rides such as the Halloween Express or Oktoberfest rides along the Leadville Railroad.
Hit the Trails
If you prefer your postcard-worthy views to be up close and personal, you can hit the endless miles of Colorado trails. Whether on bike or on foot, autumn is the perfect time to get outside and explore the Colorado wilderness. Breathe in the crisp mountain air as you delve into the forest and seek out incredible mountain views. You can also get a close-up look at the wildlife also enjoying the changing of seasons—just make sure to pack plenty of layers. Fall brings more dramatic temperature swings to Colorado’s weather. You always have to account for elevation changes as well. If you hit the trails this autumn, be sure to bring your favorite Colorado sweatshirt and a hat to stay warm—or remove and cool off—during your adventure.
Explore a Pumpkin Patch
Another traditional autumn favorite across the nation—and one of the top Colorado fall activities—is visiting your local pumpkin patch. Pick out your favorite decorative gourds, stock up on perfectly round and orange pumpkins to make a porch full of jack-o-lanterns, or choose the ideal pumpkin to make a delicious pie. The fun doesn’t have to stop at the pumpkin patch itself, either. Depending on where you go, there are often arts and crafts, rides, and other activities for younger members of the family to enjoy. Many pumpkin patches also have a towering corn maze to get lost in. Enjoy kettle corn, caramel apples, and other popular fall treats. Pumpkin patches present the perfect autumn entertainment for visitors of all ages.
Go Apple Picking
If pumpkin patches aren’t enough, you can also spend a few hours enjoying the local apple orchard. Fall is the perfect time to go apple picking. Like pumpkin patches, many apple orchards are parts of larger farms that promise hours of entertainment for the entire family. You can get your favorite sweet treats—like warm cider or fresh-baked apple cider donuts. Meanwhile, enjoy a hayride through the orchard or visit the cute farm animals that reside there. At the end of the day, you get to walk away with a bag of fresh-picked apples that are perfect for baking, saucing, dipping in caramel, or just eating as is for a delicious, nutritious snack.
Get a Little Spooky
It’s not fall without Halloween. When it comes to spooky thrills and haunted locations, Colorado has you covered. Perhaps most famous is the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, which inspired Stephen King’s The Shining. The hotel staff claims the building is genuinely haunted, but you don’t have to take their word for it. Book a stay yourself and see if you hear the supposed children’s laughter in deserted hallways or witness a spirit unpacking your bags. For more haunted spots in Colorado, you can visit any of the hotels in Cripple Creek—a historic mining town near the base of Pikes Peak. There are also plenty of commercial haunted houses and fright fests to explore, including Denver’s legendary 13th Floor Haunted House.
Attend Colorado’s Biggest Beer Festivals
Colorado is proud of its booming craft brewery scene—a fact that becomes even more evident than usual in the fall. Of course, no beer lover can miss Oktoberfest. Enjoy this annual, multi-day celebration in plenty of incredible locations throughout the state, including the massive festivals in Breckenridge, Vail, and Denver. There’s also the Great American Beer Festival in Denver every October. Experience the greatest brews America has to offer from hundreds of breweries across the nation. In addition to tastings, the festival has competitions that provide great opportunities and honors for some of the nation’s best breweries. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great American Beer Festival has moved online this year, allowing visitors and participants alike to join in the fun virtually.
Soak Up the Hot Springs
Colorado’s hot springs are an iconic attraction no matter what season it is, but there’s a certain appeal to them in the fall. After all, who doesn’t want to go for a warm, luxurious soak when the air is crisp and cool? Plus, the autumn weather makes an ideal environment for hiking to remote springs or simply exploring the area around your favorite natural pool. The stunning golds, yellows, and reds of the surrounding foliage are another added perk. Book a relaxing weekend or make an adventure out of hiking to a remote hot spring. No matter what, you’ll enjoy the hours spent relaxing in the natural soothing waters in addition to postcard-worthy scenery.