Wherever you are in Colorado, there’s an inspiring vista to chase. From these spots, you can see the gorgeous shift in fall foliage that Colorado is known for. Verdant greens, fiery reds, mellow golds and bright oranges — these are the hues that characterize the change in seasons, and they’re part of what makes Colorado such a special place.
Taking in the brilliant landscape firsthand beats scrolling through your friends’ vacation photos any day. So, in the spirit of getting out into the wild to see autumn up close, we’ve compiled this list of the best places in Colorado to check out the changing fall leaves. Plan a hike or a drive through these areas and get ready for a front row seat at the year’s grandest show.
There are plenty of places to get your fill of fall leaves, but these are our favorites:
Did you know that this ski mecca is actually named after the aspen tree? That should give you some hint as to how breathtaking the town can be in autumn. When the sunlight hits the golden aspen leaves, you can almost see it bounce and shimmer, shifting the light on the craggy mountains around them and bathing the town in a moody, golden glow.
2. Kebler Pass
This unpaved stretch of road is a photographer’s favorite lookout point. And while Aspen has its share of the eponymous tree, Kebler’s Pass is actually home to the largest aspen grove in North America! If you’re near Gunnison, make a point to stop here. It’s a scenic route you’ll remember for a long time.
3. Maroon Bells
Touted as the most photographed spot in Colorado, Maroon Bells in Aspen is a towering set of mountain peaks that offer an unobscured look at fall’s natural beauty. Framed by a valley bursting with yellow and green blossoms, the Bells are majestic at any season, but they look like a Thomas Kincaid painting during fall.
4. Grand Mesa/ Western Slope
Colorado’s Western Slope is where you’ll find shimmering aspens and glorious colors along with Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world. This is also Colorado wine country, so prepare for a different kind of photo opp here; one where vineyards flank the hillside and flames of scrub oak lick the sky. If it sounds too beautiful for words, you might be right, and if you’re searching for gorgeous fall foliage then make sure to get here!
5. Buffalo Pass
Just west of Steamboat Springs lies Buffalo Pass, a stretch of dirt road where you’ll find even more aspens glowing in shades of gold and yellow this fall. The pass is eight miles long, winding its way up to the Continental Divide and Summit Lake, where you’ll catch more gorgeous glimpses of autumn in full bloom. Burgundys, scarlets, and deep oxblood reds contrast with bright yellows in an unparalleled display of natural beauty that only comes once a year.
Don’t Forget: Your Fall Colors Adventure Checklist
Taking a hike or a meandering car ride to see the leaves change color can be so exciting that it’s easy to forget a few things. When you head out, remember to:
- Pack snacks and water for the long trip — You don’t want to have to come back before you’re ready!
- Keep an extra battery pack for your camera or phone — Losing charge when you’re setting up the perfect shot is no fun.
- Prepare for sunset — Chances are, you’ll stay out much longer than you expected, and you’ve got to stay safe and smart when the mercury really drops. Don’t get caught without an extra outer layer like a jacket or coat, a beanie, thick socks, or gloves. Pack an extra pair of everything before heading out the door!
- Keep a flashlight and extra batteries on hand — You never know where you’ll wander!
Now that you have a plan — and a checklist — get out and explore the stunning views that Colorado has to offer. Autumn comes but once a year — don’t miss it this time!