Fall. It is absolutely my favorite time of year in Colorado. I love waking up to crisp mornings and bright blue skies. I can see the slightest hint of aspens and the other trees getting ready to put on the colorful show that comes each year before winter takes hold. Colorado in the fall is a spectacular treat.
Visiting Colorado in the fall is also a fantastic time for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike to explore hiking or biking trails, maybe try some fly-fishing or horseback riding and get some great lodging deals, too! Peak foliage is mid-September to mid-October.
Here are my top picks for visit to Colorado in the fall:
Snow Mountain Ranch
Located in Colorado near Winter Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Lake
No matter your comfort needs, you will find them at Snow Mountain Ranch. You can stay in a lodge, a cabin, a yurt or even sleep in a tent. The focus at this ranch is on family coming together to enjoy outdoor activities and boy, they have plenty to choose from; horseback riding, hiking, biking, swimming indoors (with a water slide, too!), archery, zip-lining, mini-golf, canoeing, fishing, roller-skating. Anything you, Hubby, little Johnny and Betty-Sue’s hearts desire.
Located 40 miles north of Aspen, 180 miles west of Denver
A true underdog in the Colorado getaways category, Glenwood Springs is a hotbed… er.. hotsprings? … of awesomeness. Famous for the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool (you should really experience this historic pool at some point in your life) and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (home of the scariest ride on the planet), but once you explore in the fall you’ll come to appreciate the natural grace and beauty this valley has to offer. Color-spotters from all over will enjoy driving through Four Mile Park near Sunlight Mountain Resort, an unpaved road that takes visitors past meadows and swaths of colorful aspen groves, a beautiful and easily-accessible spot for hiking, exploring and wildlife viewing.
If you’re a cyclist you’ll LOVE all the cycling trails in and round Glenwood Springs. Take in the foliage by biking along the Colorado River on the Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail or take the 44-mile Rio Grande Trail to Aspen.
A spooky fall event:
Ghost Walk Historic Ghost Walk through Linwood Cemetery (Glenwood’s Pioneer Cemetery)
The Ghost Walk is family friendly, and while a spirited air of spookiness surrounds the event, the “ghosts” are portrayed by Glenwood Springs actors who bring a magical quality to each performance. They also impart interesting historical anecdotes about what it was like to live in Glenwood Springs in the late 1880s to early 1900s.
Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley
The Colorado Rockies surround this beautiful, tucked-away valley that boasts the largest aspen grove in North America (located along Kebler Pass near Crested Butte). Not only is there world-class hiking, biking, fishing (and so much more), this is a real Old West part of the world with rodeos, railroads, ghost towns and wide open … you’ll feel like you stepped back in time!
When visiting Crested Butte in the fall, check out this event: Crested Butte Film Festival, Crested Butte
Always the last weekend in September, Crested Butte Film Festival takes place during the peak of fall foliage season. Expect four days of viewing the best of international cinema, discussing films with filmmakers and easily walking or riding a cruiser bike from venue to venue. More than 90 films will be screened, ranging from narratives and documentaries to outdoor adventure and shorts. There will be bike parades, giveaways and pass options that make it easy and affordable to enjoy all four days, including events. A children’s film program and several filmmaker talks will be offered at no cost.
Southwestern-most spot in Colorado
There is a reason celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Cruise, and Oprah Winfrey have houses in Telluride… this town is captivating. Telluride sits in a “box canyon” – meaning, there is one road in and the town has three walls of mountains surrounding it – and was once referred to by the Native American Ute Tribe as “The Valley of Hanging Waterfalls.”
There are many aspen groves throughout the San Juan Mountains and a memorable way to see the colorful foliage is on a guided 4×4 offroading tour to Tomboy Basin and Imogene Pass. Much easier than hiking the steep mountainside, an ATV tour will take you above tree line for spectacular views of the entire valley.
Vista Verde Ranch
Steamboat Springs, CO
Vista Verde Ranch is a luxury guest ranch located just north of Steamboat Springs, CO. Few places combine “high falutin’ness” and “grunginess” like Vista Verde Ranch. A luxury ranch by day, Vista Verde converts to an adults-only, romantic getaway for couples during the month of September with an unusual twist… by rounding up cattle.
During the month of September every year guests can get their cowgirl (or cowboy) on in their Fall Cattle Round-up. Riding a horse through 16,000 acres of Colorado terrain during peak fall foliage sounds like quite an adventure! Especially since you can end the day with a gourmet meal and kick off your cowboy boots at the end of a luxurious bed in a fancy cabin.
If you want to hobnob with the rich, famous and beautiful while you chase the color-change in fall, you may want to consider a weekend away in Aspen. Rolling hills lead you into a charming downtown area that butts-up right to the base of the ski mountain. Shopping, eating, hot-springing, and photographing the Maroon Bells make Aspen a fun fall getaway for anyone (plus, hotel rates are much less expensive than during the peak ski season!)
It’s too bad fall is such a short season here in Colorado! Gotta run and catch those leaves before they fall….