Many Coloradans will tell you that fall is their favorite season. Aspen-covered slopes dripping with yellow, orange and red leaves draw day-trippers, weekend vacationers and shoulder-season campers into the Rocky Mountains for their last hurrahs before winter wraps its snowy arms around the high country.
The exact timing of peak fall color can change from year to year, and in some locations, it may last just a week. It’s important to plan your trip — not just mapping your route, but also checking to see what color conditions are like in your chosen area. Here are a few resources to get started: U.S. Forest Service Fall Color Hotline: 800-354-4595, fs.fed.us/fallcolors/2013 Colorado State Parks’ suggestions on enjoying fall foliage: parks.state.co.us/ pages/fall.aspx Colorado State Parks Fall Colors Search: parks.state.co.us/ ParksSearch/ Pages/ParksSearch.aspx Head to this page, check the ‘Fall Colors’ box and search to see which state parks are experiencing fall colors.
Conventional wisdom dictates that if you want to see Colorado’s aspen trees in all their fall glory, you need to head for the hills in September. While it’s true that the northern and north-central mountains’ foliage usually hits its peak in mid- to late September, there are still plenty of places to visit at the end of the month and even into early October. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you don’t have the time or inclination to undertake a major road trip, look no further than the Pikes Peak region near Colorado Springs. Drive west out of the Springs on U.S. Highway 24 to Divide, Mueller State Park, Eleven Mile State Park and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Color in this region depends on the elevation, but 9news.com says it’s expected to run from from late September to early October. It’s a good idea to check the Colorado State Parks Fall Colors Search before you go. In addition to leaf viewing, there are plenty of places to hike, picnic and camp, and you’ll revel in the mix of mountain and river scenery. Be sure to stop in Buena Vista and Salida for shopping, dining and strolling the historic districts.