The Colorado’s peaks are getting dusted by snow, and the cool mornings and evenings mean it’s time for fall colors in Colorado. It also means that the roads will be lined with cars and people gazing at the aspen trees that turn bright yellow and orange.
You will sometimes hear people refer to the trees as “quaking aspens” because the leaves rustle and shimmer in the wind.
September and October are the best time for aspens, so head out and see this spectacular scene. Below I have some great routes to take to see the colors, so don’t miss your chance to see slopes painted in gold.
Ride the Cache la Poudre River Canyon
This canyon is about 20 minutes northwest of Fort Collins, is a great place to enjoy the fall colors in Colorado. My favorite way to Poudre Canyon (pronounced pooh-der) is from Highway 34, west of 287 and head north on County Road 27 to Buckhorn Road to Stove Prairie Road to Colorado Highway 14 and then turn right to U.S. Route 287. Within the first quarter mile, you’ll begin to see the Poudre River, Colorado’s only nationally designated Wild & Scenic river. The highway also is designated as a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway. You will see many colorful aspens on Highway 14 as well as beautiful ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees, sagebrush, and mountain mahogany.
If you turn left on Highway 14 from Stove Prairie Road, you will ride the two-hour drive, climbing above 10,000 feet, to Cameron Pass and enjoy the colors along the river. Take it about 40 minutes farther for even more colors and arrive in Walden, Colorado.
Ride Rabbit Ears Pass
You’ll see colorful aspens along Rabbit Ears, especially near Dumont Lake, 22 miles southeast of Steamboat Springs along U.S. Highway 40.
Ride the Peak to Peak Highway
If you are in the Denver area and don’t want to ride too far, take Colorado Highway 6 to 119 to 72 to 7 to either Estes or down to Lyons. Both ways showcase beautiful aspen trees.
Ride Guanella Pass
I recommend taking U.S. Route 285 south to Grant and turn right on County Road 62 all the way to the Victorian town of Georgetown. There are some cool hairpin turns that takes you down to Georgetown to Interstate 70.
Ride Gold Belt Tour
If you are a history buff, then this ride is for you. You will get a double dose of gold: beautiful aspens and a glimpse of historic mining towns that sprang up during Colorado gold rush days back in the 1890s.
This 131-mile, 5-hour drive is another one of Colorado’s Historic and Scenic Byways. You start in Florissant and head south on Highway 1 into the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. From there, you’ll head to the old mining towns of Cripple Creek and Victor. Look for beautiful views of aspens on the flanks of Pikes Peak near Victor.
Drive: Cripple Creek
For a shorter drive, head west on U.S. Highway 24 from Colorado Springs, then take Colorado Highway 67 through Divide to Cripple Creek. You’ll find spectacular views at the Pikes Peak Heritage Center in Cripple Creek.
Seeing the fall colors is one of the reasons why I love living and riding in Colorado. There is no place better than here.