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10 Places to See the Fall Colors in Colorado

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Looking for the best places to see fall colors In colorado? Seeing fall foliage in Colorado is a bucket list item for many travelers.

The Fall season brings with it some of the most captivating sights in Colorado. As the leaves turn shades of red, yellow, and orange, it’s time to go out and enjoy the beautiful Fall foliage in Colorado.

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From the Rocky Mountains to the vast open plains, there are countless destinations to take in the stunning Fall colors in Colorado.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended vacation, these are the top destinations to experience the vibrant Fall in Colorado.

While most opt to drive, scenic train rides allow everyone in the family to soak up the surreal landscapes.

Watch the changing scenery from the comfort of a train as it does all the work for you, where the only thing you’ll need is your sense of adventure and a few snacks.

Sit back and enjoy the ride and view some of the best places to see fall foliage in Colorado. 

The leaves usually begin changing in early September but by mid-October, the colors have disappeared so you need to be flexible and ready to hop on a plane or take a drive at the drop of a dime. 

The fall colors usually begin high in the mountains and work their way down in elevation as the temperature gets colder.

Be prepared to see splashes of yellow, orange, and red all mingle along the scenic highways.

colorado fall foliage

Why Colorado is a Prime Destination for Fall Foliage

When it comes to leaf peeping in Colorado, there is no better place to witness the breathtaking beauty of autumn than this picturesque state.

One of the main reasons why Colorado is a prime destination for fall foliage is its wide variety of tree species.

From the golden aspens that blanket the mountainsides to the vibrant oak and maple trees that dot the valleys, there is an endless array of colors to admire.

In addition to the diverse foliage, Colorado’s high altitude and crisp mountain air contribute to the intensity and longevity of the fall colors.

The cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours trigger the trees to begin their transformation, creating a visual spectacle that attracts leaf peepers from all over the world.

Moreover, Colorado’s abundance of public lands, national parks, and scenic byways provide endless opportunities for leaf peeping.

Whether you prefer hiking through the rugged terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park or taking a leisurely drive along the San Juan Skyway, there are countless vantage points to capture the beauty of Colorado’s fall foliage.

When is the Best Time to Visit for Fall Colors

Fall in Colorado is a magical time when the state transforms into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors.

The best time to visit for fall colors depends on various factors, including elevation and weather conditions. In general, the peak foliage season in Colorado typically occurs from late September to mid-October.

At higher elevations, such as in Rocky Mountain National Park or Maroon Bells, the colors usually reach their peak earlier in September.

As you descend to lower elevations, such as in Aspen or Telluride, the colors tend to peak in early to mid-October.

However, it’s important to note that the timing can vary from year to year, depending on weather patterns and other environmental factors.

To ensure the best fall foliage experience, it’s recommended to check local foliage reports and plan your visit accordingly.

Consider the weather conditions and temperature changes, as they can influence the timing and intensity of the colors.

Regardless of when you choose to visit, fall in Colorado offers breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable views that are sure to leave you in awe.

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Colorado

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park offers beautiful scenery no matter the time of the year you go but fall is by far the best time to experience Colorado.

To enjoy some absolutely jaw-dropping fall colors and scenery, take a drive on Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America which snakes through the park from Estes Park to the east all the way to Grand Lake in the west.

With more than eight miles above 11,000 feet and a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet, it makes an ideal vantage point for leaf peepers and draws photographers from across the globe to capture all of those gorgeous hues.

Fall is also a great time to be in this park to watch, and listen, to the elk as it coincides with elk rut season, a time when the male elk vie for the hearts of females.

Bugling is what many come to hear this time of year, a loud call that the bull uses to attract them.

Where to Stay Near Rocky Mountain, National Park

The Stanley Hotel is an iconic landmark famous for its charm and history, located in beautiful Estes Park, CO.

The Stanley Historic District offers over 41,000 square feet of sophisticated meeting and event space equipped with modern amenities as well as several stunning indoor and outdoor wedding venues.

Click here to book your reservation now

2. Colorado State Park

Colorado State Parks provide visitors with a variety of settings for autumn recreation and leaf-peeping. One of the places to go see the beautiful aspen trees is in the Golden Gate Canyon, State Park. 

The nearly 12,000-acre Golden Gate Canyon, just 30 miles from Denver, is worth a visit any time of year because of the views such as Panorama Point Scenic Overlook where you can look out at 100 miles of the Continental Divide.

The park offers 100 campsites and places to stay for day visitors and over 100 spots to picnic.

variety of trails, both easy and challenging, will take you through the Aspens.

You can purchase annual park passes for all of Colorado state parks, or you can pay an entrance fee per vehicle for each state park.

Some state parks also charge a per-day walk-in fee.

Where to Stay Near Colorado State Park

Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, A Dolce Resort.

From family gatherings surrounded by scenic vistas to grand adventures throughout the Pikes Peak Region, your days will be filled with endless possibilities for the extraordinary.

Soak up the restorative powers of pampering spa treatment – or a little sun, lakeside.

Click here to book your reservation now. 

3. Peak to Peak National Scenic Byway

Colorado’s oldest scenic byway is the Peak to Peak Highway, and it’s ideal for those who don’t want to travel too far from Denver, accessible via just a little over an hour’s drive.

The byway passes a number of ghost towns, like Caribou, Hesse, and Apex, multiple mining areas, and even gold mines where prospectors still pan for gold in the creeks.

There are also acres and acres of aspen stands that create a dazzling quilt of gold, yellow, orange, green, and brown across the landscape.

Where to Stay Near National Scenic Byway in Colorado

Featuring 201 spacious and comfortable guest rooms, including six two-room suites; all accommodations at St Julien Hotel & Spa are beautifully appointed with oversized bathrooms.

Featuring slate flooring and granite counters, and soothing textures and colors that create a sense of calm and relaxation.

Click here to book your reservation at St Julien Hotel & Spa

4. Kebler Pass

Kebler Pass is one of the most photographed areas of the state during autumn, a stretch that covers the 30 miles between Crested Butte and Highway 133, climbing more than 10,000 feet past the old Keystone Mine.

The road also passes through the once-booming mining towns of Irwin and Ruby, the lumber camp Telco, and the coal mining town of Floresta.

The area boasts the largest aspen grove on the continent, with miles and miles of aspen stands that peek out among the evergreen trees.

You might want to start out at Ohio Creek Road, as it passes several unique natural landscapes like the series of ranch buildings that marks the abandoned site of Castleton and the impressive spires of “The Castles.”

These are remnants of volcanic ash and mud that erupted from the West Elk Volcano some 30 million years ago.

Where to Stay Near Kebler Pass

If you are looking for preferred hotels in Mt. Crested Butte Colorado, but want an authentic experience where you are treated like family, the Nordic Inn is for you!

The Nordic Inn is the longest-operating lodge in Gunnison County and is the first and only remaining hotel in Mt. Crested Butte from the first year the ski area opened in 1963.

This quaint little Crested Butte bed and breakfast was beautifully renovated only a few years ago, and the owners kept the charm of the original hotel while adding touches of luxury.

Click here to book your reservation at Nordic Inn

5. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

If you want to see rushing rivers, hillsides of golden aspen, and cross high trestles in a historic train, the popular Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, based in Durango, Colorado, offers amazing views of the cliffs and forests in Colorado.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through breathtaking canyons in the wilderness of the nearly two-million-acre San Juan National Forest.

You’ll travel aboard historic railroad cars pulled by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive and stop for lunch in the historic town of Silverton.

Have lunch in an old saloon, shop for souvenirs, or just take pictures of the iconic steam engine as it readies for the return trip.

Pricing varies according to the level of service chosen, the dates, and the car you choose to ride in.

Tour packages are available, some of which offer a stay in the recently renovated railroad hotel. 

Where to Stay Near Durango

The Grand Imperial Hotel is within walking distance of the station.

Established in 1883 as the Thomson Block, the Grand Imperial Hotel stood as the “Crown Jewel of Silverton”, the largest structure in Colorado outside of Denver.

Established alongside the railroad during the mining years of the late 1800s, the hotel became known for its luxury and stature, a sight to behold in the Colorado Rockies.

Resting in the same place for over 135 years, the hotel has changed hands and names over the course of its lifetime.

In 2015 the Harper Family, owners of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, took on the impressive task of restoring this historical hotel to its previous grandeur.

Today, guests will find beautifully appointed rooms with breathtaking views and premium linens. The historical allure of the hotel is showcased in every detail from the grand staircase to the clawfoot tubs.

The Grand Imperial Hotel is at the top of the list for travelers in Silverton, Colorado.

Downstairs, The Grand Restaurant and Saloon offers Old West charm with Western cuisine.

A treat for locals and tourists alike, the live piano entertainment is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Click here to book your reservation at Nordic Inn

6. Last Dollar Road

A remote backroad from Ridgway to Telluride, Last Dollar Road is the perfect choice for the adventure seeker. It peaks at 10,600 feet, on its bumpy, narrow, dirt route through the majestic San Juan Mountains.

The drive takes between two and three hours and can be impassable when wet (so avoid if rain is forecasted).

A 2WD drive vehicle with high clearance would be okay if it’s dry. It’s also open to unlicensed vehicles, so bring an ATV or dirt bike if you got one.

While in Ridgway, be sure to relax at Orvis Hot Springs, or trek ten miles south to Ouray and soak there. After reaching Telluride, you can ride a free gondola high above the valley floor for incredible aerial views of Telluride’s box canyon.

  • Trip: Ridgway to Telluride, 21 miles, high clearance 2WD
  • Nearby Drive: The standard route from Ridgway to Telluride is on the San Juan Skyway, a 236-mile excursion around the Southwest.
  • You can return on the Skyway after Telluride or skip Last Dollar Road completely and ride the byway. The main route is to take Highway 62 from Ridgway to Highway 145, and then onto Telluride.
  • On Highway 62 you’ll pass over Dallas Divide, a phenomenal pass for seeing color.
  • If you keep going south on Highway 145 past Telluride, you’ll climb over Lizard Head Pass, and eventually onto Dolores and Cortez. Drive back east to Durango and you can venture north on US 550, a stretch known as the Million Dollar Highway.

Where to Stay Near Last Dollar Road

The Hotel Telluride is a boutique chalet with a European feel, situated in authentic Downtown Telluride, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains.

Check out their rooms and suites, each with a breathtaking mountain view.

Browse their all-inclusive vacation packages and ensure you’ll have a worry-free vacation.

The Hotel Telluride, located close to Telluride’s signature shops, art galleries, restaurants, and The Telluride Ski Resort, puts you in the center of this former silver mining camp in the heart of the Colorado Mountains.

The hotel also offers its guests the best in service, convenience, and accommodations.

Guests leave The Hotel Telluride raving about the personalized service they received during their stay. Even bring along your furry friend!

Click here to book your reservation at Nordic Inn

7. Maroon Bells

The iconic Maroon Bells, two towering 14,000-foot mountains nestled in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, are the most photographed peaks in North America.

Located in the 2.3-million-acre White River National Forest, the Maroon Bells tower over numerous hiking trails that offer unbeatable views of golden aspen trees.

To see this magnificent site you must have a reservation.

Where to Stay Near Maroon Bells, Colorado

Embrace the extraordinary at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, a five-star luxury destination nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain.

From the hotel’s enviable vantage point, guests can enjoy world-class skiing or stroll over to historic Aspen, where luxury boutiques and charming restaurants beckon.

Remède Spa, the award-winning wellness destination, is renowned as one of the world’s premier hotel spas, while our heated outdoor pool and hot tubs overlook stunning Aspen Mountain.

A host hotel of the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, our resort is defined by exceptional culinary experiences; Velvet Buck presents modern mountain cuisine and Mountain Social is the definitive après ski destination serving handcrafted cocktails.

Retreat into sophistication in their luxury rooms, suites, and residences, each featuring sumptuous 400-thread-count Frette linens, spacious marble bathrooms, and custom furnishings by Ralph Lauren. 

Click here to book your reservation at St. Regis Aspen Resort

8. La Veta Pass and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

La Veta Pass and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains Peak at an altitude of over 9,400 feet.

La Veta Pass along US Route 160 in the southern region of the state just west of the small town of La Veta, is considered one of the most scenic fall drives in all of Colorado.

The vivid golden aspen trees are mixed with dark green pines, while the glorious Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains loom over the San Luis Valley.

Where to Stay Near La Veta Pass & Sangre de Cristo 

A visit to Cucharas River Bed & Breakfast will remind you of time spent at your favorite aunt’s home but without the lace doilies and antiques.

  Instead, the bright cabin is filled with the contemporary work of local artists and a relaxed vibe where you are free to enjoy all the comforts of this immaculate, pet-friendly home. 

The gathering room provides guests use of a full kitchen, entertainment center, and a huge farm table perfect for meals, games, or crafts.

Spend time on the deck listening to the gentle flow of the river or grilling dinner on one of three grills while you watch for “Spirit“ the local magpie.

Whether you seek a romantic weekend, a family getaway, or a group retreat Cucharas River Bed & Breakfast is the perfect place to see the fall foliage in Colorado.

Click here to book your reservation at Cucharas River Bed & Breakfast.

9. Guanella Pass

Guanella Pass is full of autumn color on its hour-long journey from I-70 to US 285. It peaks at 11,670 feet, where Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt hover in the distance.

Historic Georgetown has numerous restaurants and is home to the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a memorable way to see the sights. In Grant, there’s usually a BBQ stand open at the start of the pass, and Kenosha Cafe.

  • Trip: Georgetown to Grant, 22 miles, 2WD
  • Nearby Drive: At Grant take a right on US 285 for a fifteen-minute trip up Kenosha Pass. It offers a tremendous view of the valley. Continue west down the pass and you’ll quickly reach Como, a tiny dot on the map. It’s connected to Breckenridge via Boreas Pass (23 miles), another incredible fall trip.

Where to Stay Near Guanella Pass

Keystone Resort is located in Summit County, Colorado, just a short, scenic drive from Denver.

Whether you’re a family with kids or a kid at heart, this laid-back mountain playground will make you feel right at home.

Keystone Resort offers a huge variety of year-round outdoor activities and adventures, comfortable lodging accommodations, and award-winning dining, all nestled in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

With so much to ski and do here, making lasting memories with friends and family comes naturally.

Click here to book your reservation at Keystone Resort

10. Crested Butte

The towns of Crested Butte and Aspen are famous for their brilliant fall displays. These mountain ski resorts are surrounded by impressive hues of glaring yellows and golden bronze.

Take a scenic drive on Kebler Pass, a beautiful high-mountain road between Crested Butte and Paonia.

The route goes west from Crested Butte to Highway 133, near the mining town of Somerset. The road is open for traffic from approximately mid-June to mid-October.

Going from Crested Butte to Aspen, make a stop by Crystal Mill, an idyllic spot made even more incredible when surrounded by golden aspens.

The path to Crystal Mill goes along the sparkling Crystal River, through the mountains of the White River National Forest. Spend some time hiking the Crystal Mill Trail, an 8-mi (13-km) moderate trail that is only open from late May to late November.

Where to Stay Near Crested Butte 

Elevation Hotel and Spa offer an ideal slope-side location with a full range of pampering amenities that reflect a combination of mountain charm and contemporary urban design.

This luxury ski-in/ski-out hotel destination is located at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado, and features slope-side dining, a full-service spa, a heated indoor pool, and three hot tubs.

Click here to book your reservation at Elevation Hotel & Spa

What To Wear to See the Fall Foliage in Colorado

Stay comfy and warm no matter the time of day. Buffalo plaid and light, comfy sweaters and lightweight jackets are all classic fall fashion ideas.

Plan for the Colorado weather by wearing lots of layers. With more than 300 days of sunshine, the temperature can warm up during the day, while cooling off as the sun continues to set therefore it’s important to dress accordingly.

The elevation of temperatures can shift on a dime. Don’t underestimate the importance of layering up and packing clothes for all seasons year-round if you’re going to be exploring the fall colors in Colorado

No one wants to be the person in their group who didn’t do enough research on the destination and complained the whole time about how hot or cold it is.

Here are some basics to bring that will help you stay comfortable in every season:

  • Winter: Fleece jacket, long underwear, water-resistant coat, jeans, and snow pants
  • Fall: T-shirts, rain jacket, light fleece, jeans, and shorts 

Tips for beating the altitude and enjoying the colors at 6,035+ Feet 

  1. Stay hydrated. The air is drier, and your body will dehydrate much more quickly. The higher up you go the more water you should drink.
  2. Always travel with friends or family. If someone begins to experience severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest pain, get him or her to a lower altitude as quickly as possible.
  3. Stand up straight and remember to deeply inhale and exhale to expel all of the CO2 from your lungs to make more space for that good ol’ oxygen.

Colorado Fall Foliage Travel Planning

Flights: My husband and I always find deals using Trip Advisor.

Rental Car: Hertz Cars is our company of choice when traveling. It is easy to rent a car and explore the Turkish Riviera.

Hotels: Compare competitive sites for hotels, cars, and flights on Trip Advisor, Booking.com, and Kayak. 

Travel Insurance: I never travel without travel insurance.  I have been using it for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

Packing Lists: Here’s all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists! Including electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and flight essentials. 


YES! Travel Insurance is important no matter where you are traveling because accidents happen and you should always travel with insurance.

I got extremely sick in the Czech Republic and that was the one time I decided to forego travel insurance I racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills and they wanted their money before I would even be seen by the ER Doctors. 

Protecting Your Trip is their top Priority so click here to now grab your travel insurance.

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

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Have you started making plans to see the fall foliage in Colorado and the fall colors in Colorado?  I hope my list of the best places to see the fall foliage has helped you begin to plan your next getaway. 

I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram

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