Where to See Fall Foliage in Colorado

Colorado's spectacular natural landscapes take on a special hue in the fall
Colorado's spectacular natural landscapes take on a special hue in the fall | © Dawn Wilson Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mike Title
5 October 2020

If you are looking for breathtaking fall foliage colors within the state of Colorado, you will be happy to find the famously golden aspen trees of the region whose peak time runs from mid-September to mid-October. You can enjoy the sights from a glorious city such as Denver or disappear into the mountains. Here, we have chosen some great spots for you to explore as the vibrant red, orange and yellow hues appear.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

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Aspen Leaves Changing in Golden Gate Canyon State Park
© Zach Joing / Alamy Stock Photo
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is only 30 miles (48km) east of Denver and overflowing with aspens that transform into waves of golden leaves in fall. The views are out of this world from the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, where you can see for what feels like forever. If you want to get into the thick of it, there are many clearly marked trails for you to follow. The hikes connect you with the wildlife and get you up close to the beauty you have been staring at from a distance.

Kebler Pass

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Between Crested Butte and Paonia State Park on Highway 133, there are 30 miles (48km) of road and a journey to cherish in the fall. It climbs 10,000 feet (3,050m), passing through what were once flourishing mining towns. It is well worth stopping at Floresta, the remains of a coal mining town that is thought to be haunted. Wandering the hills, you really get a sense of the time that has passed. There are miles and miles of incredible views on this drive, but be careful if there has been rain, as it’s then advisable to rent a 4×4.

Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

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Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Animas River and Fall colors, near Silverton, Colorado USA
© Efrain Padro / Alamy Stock Photo
If you have a sense of adventure and a taste for the out of the ordinary, head to Durango in southern Colorado. There could not be an any more extravagant and elaborate way to celebrate the changing seasons than by admiring the Colorado landscape by steam train. Taking this historic journey, as it rushes through the golden and fiery display of colors, over rivers and along the mountainside, you get to see Colorado in all its wonder just as people did in the past, blazing through the canyons at a fair old speed.

Denver

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The city of Denver has the benefits of preserving and embracing the nature that surrounds it. With over 200 parks, it is difficult to avoid the stunning fall foliage that draws visitors every September. If you wish to take a leisurely hike or fancy a more strenuous adventure, there are many clearly marked trails to choose from. There is also the option (highly recommended) of renting a bicycle from one of the many outlets across town. The Cherry Creek Bike Trail is extremely popular as you rush from park to park under a canopy of glorious leaves.

Telluride

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Telluride is tucked away between Mt Sneffels and Mt Wilson, far from the madding crowds and offering a fall experience that you’ll be dying to write home about. The sights of the aspen trees in this region are close to fantasy-level fall foliage. It may be the altitude (the town sits at 8,725 ft/2,660m), but to be in a mountain village that offers 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains and beyond makes you feel giddy with the energy of the season. There are many great hikes, too, where you can loop around the mountain and then magically end up back at base.

Buffalo Pass

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Colorado, Near Steamboat Springs, Buffalo Pass, Road Winding Through Fall-Colored Aspens.
© Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Seeing the trees transformed as you hit the highway on a road trip is a common part of the fall experience in Colorado. Another great journey is the Buffalo Pass, which will send shivers down your spine as the road begins to wind away before you. The Routt National Forest gives way to the Summit Lake as you climb nearly 10,500 feet (3,200m). Stop off in Steamboat Springs for a soak in a hot spring or lunch – a real authentic mountain town for a truly authentic time of the year. Again though, do think about renting a 4×4 to do it with ease.
These recommendations were updated on October 5, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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