Colorado in the fall is a wonder to behold. The mountains come alive with vibrant colors, and it’s the perfect time to explore. The state offers some of the most stunning fall foliage in the country, from the Rockies to the San Juan Mountains. Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast or want a scenic drive, this guide will help you discover the best places to see fall colors in Colorado. So, enjoy the 14 best places to see fall colors in Colorado – it’s a season you won’t want to miss!
Best time to see fall colors
You’ll find the most beautiful fall colors in Colorado from late September to early October.. However, the exact timing can vary!
At higher elevations, such as the Rocky Mountains, the fall colors can peak as early as mid-September, while at lower elevations, such as Denver, the peak may not occur until mid-October. Here are the details:
- Northern Colorado: Mid-September
- Central Colorado: Late September
- Southern Colorado: Early to mid-October
Tips for planning your trip
Here are some tips for planning before you head on exploring the best places in Colorado to see fall colors.
- Check the fall foliage forecast – This will give you a good idea of when to expect peak color in the areas you plan to visit.
- Be flexible with your travel dates – Try to schedule your trip for the week or two when peak color is expected. However, if you’re not flexible, you can still see beautiful fall foliage in Colorado, even if it’s not at its peak.
- Dress for the weather – It can be chilly in the mountains in the fall, so be sure to pack warm clothes.
- Be prepared for crowds – Fall foliage season is a popular time to visit Colorado, so be prepared for larger groups than usual at popular attractions.
14 Best places to see fall colors in Colorado
Colorado is one of the best places in the world to see fall foliage, with its towering mountains, aspen groves, and sparkling rivers. Here are 14 of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
The park is in Colorado and is a beloved attraction due to its breathtaking natural beauty. It features majestic mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and lush, vibrant forests. During the autumn, the park’s aspen groves undergo a striking transformation, painting the landscape with brilliant yellow, orange, and red hues.
Whether you’re an avid hiker, nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape in a picturesque setting, Rocky Mountain National Park has something to offer everyone, making it a top choice for exploration and adventure in the heart of Colorado.
Aspen, a renowned town famous for its luxurious ski resorts, offers more than just winter sports. During the autumn, the city transforms into a picturesque destination for experiencing the beauty of fall foliage.
The aspen trees that envelop the area burst into brilliant hues of yellow and orange, creating a breathtaking natural spectacle. This vibrant display of colors makes Aspen a must-visit location for those seeking the quintessential autumn experience in a stunning mountain setting.
3. Glenwood Canyon
Glenwood Canyon, nestled alongside the Colorado River, is a breathtaking natural wonder. This narrow gorge is defined by towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and natural hot springs that add to its allure.
During the fall season, the canyon transforms into a vivid masterpiece as the aspen trees within it burst into brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. This annual display of autumn foliage makes Glenwood Canyon one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
Breckenridge, nestled in the stunning Colorado Rockies, is a beloved ski resort town famous for its winter sports and outdoor activities. However, it’s not just a winter wonderland; it’s also a fantastic spot to experience the beauty of autumn.
As fall sets in, the aspen trees surrounding the town burst into a breathtaking display of vibrant colors, painting the landscape with brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red. The charming combination of outdoor adventure and the stunning fall foliage makes Breckenridge a year-round destination.
5. Ghost Towns
Colorado is a treasure trove of abandoned ghost towns, and several of them offer a captivating backdrop for enjoying the beautiful fall foliage. Some notable ghost towns to explore during autumn include St. Elmo near Buena Vista, Caribou near Nederland, Ashcroft near Aspen, and Goldfield near Cripple Creek.
These forgotten relics of the past are set in picturesque surroundings, allowing you to experience the charm of Colorado’s changing seasons while stepping back in time and discovering the stories of these long-forgotten places, making for a unique and memorable autumn adventure.
6. Colorado Fall Festivals
Colorado comes alive with various lively fall festivals that offer the perfect opportunity to embrace the season and soak in the stunning fall foliage. Among the popular festivals, you’ll find
- Pumpkin Spice Festival in Nederland is an ode to autumn flavors.
- Aspen Food & Wine Classic, a culinary delight set against the backdrop of Aspen’s beautiful fall colors
- For wine enthusiasts, the Crested Butte Wine & Food Festival in Crested Butte is a must, combining fine wines and gourmet cuisine with the vibrant hues of autumn.
- Boulder Creek Festival in Boulder provides a fun and diverse celebration while surrounded by the colorful beauty of Colorado’s fall foliage.
These festivals offer the best places to see fall colors in Colorado, allowing you to revel in the season’s spirit and make the most of Colorado’s autumn charm.
7. Autumn Hikes
Colorado is a hiker’s paradise in the fall, with stunning trails to witness the vibrant foliage. Some of the top hiking trails for experiencing the brilliant autumn colors include the
Maroon Bells Wilderness near Aspen offers breathtaking vistas of the iconic Maroon Bells amidst a sea of colorful aspens.
- The Sky Pond trail near Rocky Mountain National Park leads you through an enchanting alpine landscape where you can admire the changing leaves.
- The Lost Lake trail is a hidden gem, guiding you through a tranquil forest to a picturesque lake surrounded by fall foliage.
- The Arapahoe Basin area boasts striking autumn beauty, especially along the scenic hiking trails, as you revel in the splendor of Colorado’s fall season.
These hiking trails provide an immersive and rewarding way to enjoy the natural spectacle of fall in the Centennial State.
8. Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is a tourist destination, thanks to its famous attractions like the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the Air Force Academy. These landmarks offer breathtaking natural beauty and a rich history.
Additionally, during the autumn, the nearby Cheyenne Mountain State Park becomes a spectacle of vibrant fall foliage, with aspen trees painting the landscape in brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red, making it an ideal spot for leaf-peeping and outdoor adventures.
In Colorado Springs, you can experience the best of both worlds: iconic landmarks and the stunning transformation of nature in the fall. The city’s well-known sites draw in people year-round.
9. Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive is a picturesque roadway that twists through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It provides breathtaking vistas of the Denver city skyline and the encompassing mountain range.
During the autumn, the aspen trees lining Skyline Drive undergo a dazzling transformation, displaying vibrant yellow, orange, and red hues, making it one of the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
It’s most renowned for the striking fall foliage of its aspen trees, which paint the landscape with vibrant shades, making it a must-visit spot for nature lovers and those seeking a beautiful drive.
10. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs, located in the Colorado Rockies, is a renowned ski resort town that offers a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. But beyond its winter charms, it also shines as a fantastic destination for witnessing the beauty of fall foliage.
During the autumn, the aspen trees in and around Steamboat Springs transform into a stunning tapestry of colors, displaying brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red, making it an ideal locale for those seeking the vibrant spectacle of nature’s transition.
Paonia is a charming small town nestled in the scenic western Colorado Rockies. It’s in a picturesque valley encircled by towering mountains and lush orchards. During the autumn, the aspen trees that envelop Paonia transform into a stunning display of vibrant colors, with leaves taking on brilliant yellow, orange, and red hues.
This natural spectacle adds to the town’s beauty and makes it a popular destination for those seeking the breathtaking sights of fall foliage in the Rockies.
12. Kebler Pass
Kebler Pass is a beautiful mountain spot in Colorado. It’s known for its amazing views. You can see the natural beauty of the area here. In the fall, Kebler Pass looks stunning. The aspen trees turn into a mix of bright colors like yellow, orange, and red. It’s a fantastic sight to see, making Kebler Pass a great place to visit.
Kebler Pass in autumn is a perfect example of Colorado’s natural beauty. It’s a must-visit for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to experience the changing seasons in this part of the Rocky Mountains. Indeed, it’s among the top places to see fall colors in Colorado.
13. San Juan Skyway
The San Juan Skyway is a breathtaking 236-mile road that meanders through the picturesque San Juan Mountains in the southwest of Colorado. This scenic highway provides awe-inspiring sights of towering mountains, lush valleys, and serene alpine lakes.
During the autumn season, the aspen trees lining the San Juan Skyway burst into a vibrant display of yellow, orange, and red, creating a stunning and colorful landscape for you to enjoy.
14. Million Dollar Highway
The Million Dollar Highway is a captivating 25-mile segment of US Highway 550, cutting through the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. This road is famous for its remarkable vistas of the mountains, valleys, and serene alpine lakes.
During the fall, the aspen trees lining the Million Dollar Highway burst into vibrant yellow, orange, and red hues, creating a breathtaking autumn scene that delights all who travel along it.
To explore the best places to see fall colors in Colorado, you can choose from various options, including national parks, mountain towns, scenic drives, ghost towns, festivals, and hiking trails.
In Colorado, fall is a magical time, and these locations offer a mix of natural beauty and cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural events, or simply taking in the breathtaking scenery, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during the fall season in Colorado.
1. What is the best time to see fall colors in Colorado?
The best time to see fall colors in Colorado is typically in late September to early October.
2. Is Colorado pretty in October?
Colorado is pretty in October, with vibrant fall foliage and pleasant weather.
3. When can you see fall colors in Denver?
You can see fall colors in Denver in late September and early October.
4. Where is the best place to see leaves in Colorado?
The best place to see leaves in Colorado is in Aspen, Vail, and Rocky Mountain National Park.
5. What should I wear in Colorado in October?
In Colorado in October, wearing layers, including a warm jacket, is advisable, as temperatures can vary throughout the day.
6. What is Aspen like in October?
Aspen in October offers beautiful fall foliage and a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere than the busier winter season.
7. How cold is Colorado in October?
Colorado in October can be chilly, with average highs ranging from the 50s to 60s°F and cooler evenings.
8. What month is autumn in Colorado?
Autumn in Colorado typically starts in late September and continues through November.
9. How long are fall colors in Colorado?
The duration of fall colors in Colorado varies. But it often peaks in mid to late September and last a few weeks.
10. Is Colorado fun in the fall?
Colorado is a fun destination in the fall, offering outdoor activities, festivals, and stunning autumn scenery.