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If Colorado is beautiful year-round—and it is—then Colorado in the fall is heavenly. From the cooling temperatures to the changing colors of the aspens, beauty exists in abundance this time of year. If you’re planning a trip to visit Colorado in the fall or living in Colorado looking for a fall getaway, below are some can’t-ignore suggestions you’ll want to read.

Temperatures Approaching Perfection

After the thunder and hail storms and before the blizzards, Colorado is perfection in the fall. The fall in Colorado is made for exploring. As the air cools around you, the trees put on their best dress and the wildlife performs its pre-winter ballet, marking the prime time for a Rocky Mountain hike. Take a look at this list to plan your fall hikes in Colorado.

mountain trail in colorado in the fall
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Countless Colorado Views

The crisp and cool fall air in the Colorado mountains is the perfect companion for hiking enthusiasts. Which makes Colorado in the fall the perfect time to hike to some beautiful Rocky Mountain views. Those views are abundant and too many to count, but here are a few of our top picks.

  • Aspen. The most famous of all Colorado mountain towns, Aspen offers incredible views year round. Take the 14-minute Silver Queen Gondola ride to 11,200 feet for can’t-miss views.
  • Ouray. Along the Million Dollar Highway, this quaint little mountain town sits amidst the San Juan mountains. Plan for some incredible hikes to take in the San Juan beauty.
  • Vail. Hike, bike, or gondola your way to some incredible Colorado views and get the full leaf-peeping experience along the way.

Rocky Mountain Gold Rush

Each year in the fall, the Rockies are painted in golden yellows and greens as the aspens begin to shed their leaves. In this prime leaf-peeping season, some of Colorado’s most beautiful fall scenery is on display. Below are a few of the best places to catch the Rocky Mountain gold rush, and you can check out this blog for even more options. 

  • Maroon Lake. Just a brief drive outside of Aspen you can witness the wonder of the Maroon Bells and golden aspens reflecting over a still lake. With guided tours available, you can enjoy the ride and take in the scenery without worrying about how to get back to your car.
  • The Million Dollar Highway. Take the ultimate leaf-peeping drive up this section of the San Juan Skyway in late September. The golden aspens and winding mountain cliffside roads are sure to take your breath away.
  • Kebler Pass. This Rocky Mountain pass summits at 10,007 feet and climbs from Gunnison and back down to Paonia. Passing through the Gunnison National Forest you’ll be greeted with stunning aspen views.

Beautiful Bugling Elk

The Rocky Mountains are famous for many things. One of the most unique of those things is the Elk rut. That’s right, elk mating season. A truly magical season amidst Colorado’s mountains that runs from mid-September through October. Witnessing upwards of hundreds of elk in one location amidst the Rocky Mountain scenery is a treat for the eyes, and grows even sweeter with the oddly intriguing sounds of elk bugles.

To witness this event you’ll want to head to Estes Park, Colorado on the east side of the continental divide or Kawuneeche Valley on the west. Around mid-September, the elk come down from the mountains in droves and can be easily and safely observed.

elk bugling in colorado in the fall
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Railways and Byways

Perhaps the best and most efficient way to get the most out of Colorado in the fall is by one of its many mountain railways and byways. These scenic routes offer the full winding-road experience and come with some pretty great views. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. This scenic byway takes you over the world’s largest mesa through Grand Mesa National Forest. Enjoy the alpine meadows and stop at one of the breathtaking overlooks. 
  • The San Juan Skyway. This 233-mile loop encircles the San Juan National Forest and takes about 7 hours to drive. Wiggling through the San Juan mountains, some sections of the skyway can be intense. We suggest checking road conditions before you go.
  • Peak to Peak Byway. Starting in Estes Park and ending in Black Hawk, this byway is the oldest Colorado has to offer. Comes complete with mining ghost towns and the best of the front range’s fall foliage.
  • Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This 150-year-old railway connects Durango and Silverton through the beautiful mountains of southwestern Colorado. Enjoy this unique view of beautiful and historic Colorado.

All Signs Point to Colorado in the Fall

Whether you’ve recently relocated to Colorado, been here for years, or are just traveling before settling into your winter hibernation, we’re sure you’ll agree that Colorado in the fall is truly beautiful. Witness a bugling elk, peep the changing leaves of aspens, and feast on spectacular mountain views, all while enjoying the crisp Rocky Mountain air. 

For more ideas on how to make the most out of your Colorado trip, visit our blog.

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