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 perfect locations to view gorgeous Colorado fall foliage.
On this put up, we’ve put collectively a 4-day Colorado fall highway journey itinerary so you too can 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.
Vital Reminder: Because it goes in the entire locations we share, please apply good path etiquette and keep in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out your whole rubbish (together with bathroom 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 season 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 transient, Fall within the Colorado mountains is the best.
Temperatures have cooled down and the climate is steady sufficient to spend all day outdoors with out getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms (remember to pack your fall climbing layers although!).
Fall can be a shoulder season for tourism, so the crowds are principally gone and there are nice offers to be discovered. However most of all, the leaves, they’re a-changing!
In Colorado, meaning 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 highway journeys, so under I’ve outlined the final Colorado fall highway journey. It covers your complete state, with every leg of the journey hitting the largest and finest aspen groves.
Relying in your fall highway 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 possibility so you may try the great thing about the autumn colours up shut and stretch your legs a bit.
Detailed driving instructions will 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 be capable to deal with it, no four-wheel-drive crucial.
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 highway journey with a bang.
Bonus Hike: Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park
Take advantage of 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 under. Get extra path data right here.
For different hikes within the Park, try our information on the Greatest 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 highway journey is the spotlight. Don’t get me mistaken, in all places on this itinerary is spectacular, however the mixture of Vail, Independence, McClure, and Kebler Passes may be magnificence overload.
Every cross alone may very well be a weekend (or week-long) journey. However right here they mix to type leg two of our final Colorado fall colours highway 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 among the leaf-peeping crowds that flock to Maroon Lake close to Aspen and develop into surrounded by aspen timber on this stunning 12-mile out and again.
Heads up, the highway 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 motive. You’re heading right 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 Go to the Animas River
This hike is a little bit backward, which makes it form of enjoyable. Begin on the prime of Molas Go and hike down on the Colorado Path to the Animas River and the prepare tracks of the Durango-Silverton Slender Gauge railway.
On the best way, you’ll cross into the tree line (and thru aspens after all) with close-up views of the spectacular Vestal Peak.
It’s 4 miles right down to the river, dropping 3,000 toes within the course of. Keep in mind, you’ll must climb all the best way again up if you happen to make all of it the best way right down to the river!
Bonus Driving Leg: Dallas Divide from Ridgway in the direction of Telluride, CO-62
I needed this highway journey to be a real loop with no backtracking. That meant chopping off a few spots that didn’t fairly match.
However Dallas Divide and Telluride are SO BEAUTIFUL within the fall, I’ve to at the very least point out them.
If in case you have the time, the views on this space are effectively definitely worth the effort to show round and head again the best way you got here.
Take a look at among the finest hikes in Telluride when 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 best way to the highest. Get extra path data right here.
Whew, there you’ve got it! Twenty-seven hours of among the prettiest fall colours in Colorado driving on this planet, actually.
Fall is probably the most great time of the 12 months in Colorado for a highway journey; now get on the market and luxuriate in!
In case you’re searching for extra Colorado highway journey assets, try these weblog posts:
Are you planning a Colorado fall highway journey? The place is your favourite place to see Colorado fall foliage? Go away a remark under!