I’m going on my 15th fall living in the Denver Metro. After all these years, witnessing the change of seasons and the incredible colors in the fall foliage hasn’t lost it appeal and still takes my breath away. We’re so lucky to live in “Colorful Colorado.” . Here’s a guide for some drives, hikes, and memorable ways to take in the fall foliage during this short window when the colors are at their most vibrant.
The entire town of Aspen is gorgeous in the fall but the view of the Maroon Bells with the Maroon lake is reported to be “one of the most-photographed spots in Colorado” for good reason. Access to the Bells is limited to shuttle busses but it’s worth it to see the gorgeous sites all around the Bells. Hiking around Maroon Lake is very kid-friendly and the views in every direction don’t require you to tackle the more challenging hike up to Crater Lake.
Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway:
Stay in the car for this route located just an hour from Denver. The highway runs just South of Georgetown with pockets of blazing Aspens. The actual pass is at over 11, 600 feet but you’ll still feel dwarfed by the surrounding peaks. If you want to go further, when you reach the town of Grant, turn right onto 285 for 15 minutes until you reach the top of the Kenosha Pass for more gorgeous views.
Fall River Road:
This road from I-70 (exit 238) near Idaho Springs, to St. Mary’s Glacier provides sights of blazing aspens. If you chose to get out and hike there are views of the mountains to the West and we thought it was pretty exciting to play in snow year round at the Glacier.
Peak-to-Peak Scenic and Historic Byway:
Colorado’s oldest scenic byway is a 55-mile route from Black Hawk to Estes Park. This highway winds through valleys and skims the top of ridges. Take Colorado 119 from Black Hawk North the Nederland than follow Colorado 72. From here, proceed on Colorado 7, past Longs Peak to Estes Park. You’ll find colorful aspens all along the way and it is a perfect drive to take in the beauty of many national forests along the route.
Georgetown (Exit 228) and Silver Plume:
This drive is surrounded by gorgeous Aspen groves. Last September we opted to view the colors by train on the Georgetown Loop Railroad and it was a memorable and family-friendly way to see the fall colors. It’s is an hour and 15 minute trip and the guides share the history of the railroad as it loops to Silver Plume and back to Georgetown.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park:
This state park is located 20 miles west of Denver in the foothills and it has many aspen groves at lower elevations. One spot not to miss is the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, where you can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. We’ve camped here and it’s a beautiful spot that is an easy drive from the Denver metro.
Independence Pass and Highway 82:
If you’re up near Aspen taking in the Maroon Bells, be sure not to miss the amazing drive over Independence Pass, 20 miles east of Aspen. Take your time on this incredible drive up the 12,095-foot pass and soak up the beautiful fall colors, while being mindful of the sometimes narrow road. I recommend going on a nice enough day that you can roll the windows down– as the fresh air can help avoid toddler carsickness! The pass closes for the winter around the beginning of November every year, so enjoy it while you can!
What is your favorite place to take in the breathtaking seasonal sights?