Plan an awe-inspiring road trip through Colorado this fall, and experience the Centennial State in all its glory. Soak in the scenery as the aspen leaves show off their brilliant yellow, red and orange hues, and take advantage of Colorado’s mild-temperatures, sunny days and blue bird skies. Enjoy hiking, biking, or horseback riding on colorful trails or experience signature fall events like Harvest Festival in Glenwood Springs or Pueblo’s Chile and Frijoles Festival. Fall photos and memories can be captured during a Jeep tour, historic train ride or fall drive along scenic roads like the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway or Boulder County Farm Trail. For more information on places to experience Colorado’s fall splendor, visit http://www.colorado.com/articles/10-places-see-colorados-fall-color.
Fall Getaways & Experiences:
An Authentic Dude Ranch Stay at C Lazy U. At C Lazy U Ranch, guests can experience the spectacular seasonal transformation from a unique location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. C Lazy U Ranch will host a special adults-only week from September 27 to October 1. Guests will indulge in gourmet meals, stay in luxurious cabins and take part in ranch activities that will allow them to truly experience the fall season.
Colorado Fall Foliage Photo & Cycling Tour (September 24-28). For 6 days, photographers and cyclists can take in the sights of fall colors on the Colorado Fall Foliage Photography & Cycling Tour, through some of the most beautiful areas in Colorado’s high country. Participants will pedal by a few of Colorado’s iconic locations including Maroon Bells, Crystal Mill and Glenwood Hot Springs. Photography instruction will be provided in the field with classroom time to review and edit photos.
Fall Foliage Off-Road Jeep Tour in Cañon City. Colorado Jeep Tours offers a fall foliage off-road tour from Cañon City into Cripple Creek and Victor. The full day Fall Foliage tour is available from September through October and will climb 5,000 feet above Canon City to witness the yearly color change of the aspens. This interpretive tour uncovers the history of the Cripple Creek and Florence Narrow-Gauge Railroad from the 1890’s through today’s modern mining, where visitors will peer into the world’s 4th largest gold mine.
Autumn on Two Wheels in Steamboat Springs. In the fall, Steamboat Springs lights up in yellow and gold as the leaves start to change. One of the most efficient ways to see the colors is on two wheels. Explore one-of-a-kind, uphill and downhill biking trails on the mountain, or bike deep into pristine public land through Steamboat’s partnership with Routt National Forest for a one-with-nature experience unlike any other.
Leadville Scenic Train – Fall Photo Specials. Book a seat on the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad to ride up into the San Isabel National Forest, where the mountains are ablaze with yellow, orange and red. The train departs daily at 1 p.m. on weekdays in the fall. Better yet, reserve a spot on the Fall Photo Weekend Specials. These three-hour rides go all the way up the line, an additional mile and a half, allowing riders to experience untouched wilderness in its autumn beauty, the headwaters of the Arkansas River Valley and sweeping vistas of Colorado’s two highest peaks, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive.
Aspen to Paonia over McClure Pass. Visitors looking to drive from Aspen to Paonia can take the scenic McClure Pass, an 8,755-foot pass south of Carbondale along Colorado 133 and the Crystal River. The road offers beautiful views of Ragged Peak, a moderately difficult and popular hiking and climbing spot, and Chair Mountain, a prominent mountain summit in the Elk Mountains range of the Rockies. Take in the majestic mountain views and the colors of the aspens along the way.
Boulder County Farm Trail. Enjoy a beautiful hour-long drive with a background of the Rockies that rolls along past a number of farms on the Boulder Farm Trail. Fresh farm surprises can be found at the honor-system farm stands, so bring some cash. Buy the famous sweet corn from Munson Farms, picnic on the barn balcony of Lone Hawk Farm, pick up skins of super-soft wool from Cure Organic farms and keep an eye out around town for non-farm stands. Before the drive, road trippers can enter the lottery for seats to a farm dinner at Meadowlark Farms, or end the evening at one of downtown Boulder’s top restaurants.
Boreas Pass Road. Breckenridge’s Boreas Pass Road brings endless fall foliage and panoramic views of Breckenridge. Just a short drive from Denver, start with a scenic overview of Boreas Pass Road, which ascends from downtown Breckenridge to over 11,400 feet. The fall foliage will tower over the road, as if driving through a golden tunnel. Take in the scene full of vibrant fall colors, downtown Breckenridge, the ski resort and other peaks surrounding Breckenridge.
Colorado 17 from Antonito to the New Mexico Border. As you head up the serene Conejos River Valley, stands of pinyon give way to the white trunks of aspen. Some of the oldest and tallest aspens in the state can be seen, photographed and enjoyed near La Manga Pass. For an even more unique experience, ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad for views not seen on any highway.
Highway of Legends Scenic and Historic Byway. This route wraps around two of Colorado’s burliest mountains, West and East Spanish Peak. Along the way, the highway passes beneath ancient volcanic walls that rise over tracts of pine, scrub oak and aspen. Nearly the entire route from La Veta to Trinidad on Colorado 12 begs to be photographed.
The San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. The San Juan Skyway is Colorado’s first National Forest Scenic Byway and has been dubbed “The Most Beautiful Drive in America.” Towns along the route include Durango, a well-preserved descendant of the Old West; Picturesque Telluride, renowned for world-class skiing and film, jazz, and bluegrass festivals; and Silverton and Ouray, Victorian jewels tucked in deep alpine valleys. Another delight is the Mesa Verde National Park, home to one of the densest collections of prehistoric ruins in the U.S. – and five million acres of undisturbed national forest.
Festivals & Events:
Colorado Mountain Winefest (September 14-17). The celebration of Colorado’s wine country takes place this September in Palisade. Visitors can taste wine from 56 wineries in the region, meet with wine, cheese and peach growers, and talk with local chefs. The festival offers a chocolate and port pairing, tours of wineries, winemaker dinners and more.
Colorfest in Pagosa Springs (September 15-17). Celebrate the beginning of autumn at the ‘Colorfest’ weekend in Pagosa Springs by watching dozens of colorful hot air balloons ascend over the San Juan River and steamy thermal springs. There are a variety of events from September 15 through 17 including wine, craft beer, and local cuisine tastings; musical performances; a gourmet breakfast with champagne; a balloon night glow; as well as a colorful 5k Fun Run.
Chile & Frijoles Festival (September 22–24). This event is an excellent way to soak in the fall season and taste the pride of Pueblo — a special, intensely flavorful variety of green chile. Served smoking on a stick, chopped and tucked into a quesadilla or sprinkled in salsa, it’s the star of this show. Cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, and a farmers’ market round out the festivities.
Harvest Festival in Glenwood Springs (September 30th). Celebrate the fall colors and bountiful harvest in historic downtown Glenwood Springs with a full farmer’s market, local bands, art– to view, purchase, and create; farms, fall-themed street vendors and children’s activities in the local stores.
Elk Fest (September 30 – October 1). The beautifully haunting bugle of a bull elk is unmistakable, and every October spectators head to Estes Park to experience the phenomenon. The elk gather there, at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, to show off for their ladies during the start of the rutting (breeding) season. At Elk Fest, visitors can learn about these beasts’ behavior, observe them in their natural habitat, participate in a bugling contest and see performances by American Indians.