Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end to summer and fall’s beginning. Mother Nature takes heed and the beautiful leaves start changing colors in Colorado by mid-September. Fall will officially be here on Saturday, September 23rd and autumn in Colorado is truly stunning. Our state’s bright yellow foliage is spectacular and due mostly to the billions of aspen trees that blanket our mountains. Did you know our foliage season lasts longer than anywhere else is the country due to our 5 different climate zones which stagger the changes? The leaves begin to turn first in the northern part of our state about mid-September and slowly works its way south until mid-October.
The annual Farmer’s Almanac predicts peak fall color in Colorado to hit October 5th through October 14th.
I have compiled a list of scenic fall foliage drives below – some close to Denver and ideal for a day trip, others a bit farther away.
Grab your sweater, Pumpkin Spice Latte and get settled right into fall – happy leaf peeping!
September 15th – 29th (Northern part of the state)
Buffalo Pass – is an unpaved, short, steep and high mountain pass located in Routt County. Elevation 10,295 ft. the pass crosses the Continental Divide in the Park Range just outside of Steamboat Springs.
NOTE: Flat Tops Wilderness area is also known for spectacular fall foliage.
Trail Ridge Road – Soaring to an elevation of 12,183, Trail Ridge Road or Highway 34 passes through Rocky Mountain National Park between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake and is one of the best ways to see the Continental Divide as it cuts through Colorado.
September 22nd – October 7th (Central part of our state)
Squaw Pass – is a fully paved road about 30 miles from Idaho Springs to Evergreen and is called CO Highway 103. The 9,790 foot mountain pass is located in the Arapaho National Forest, roughly halfway between Evergreen and Idaho Springs, Colorado. The journey up and down Squaw Pass offers miles of scenic roadway filled with aspen trees, wildflowers and mountain views.
Guanella Pass – is a very pretty and very popular high mountain pass in central Colorado, open seasonally and accessed from Georgetown. The 22 mile route encompasses highways 381 and 62. On this pass you’ll have spectacular views of Mt. Bierstadt, Mt. Evans, wildlife and of course the gorgeous foliage.
Independence Pass – The scenic 36 mile drive over Independence Pass crosses the Continental Divide on the way from Twin Lakes, near Leadville, to Aspen. This scenic fall drive not only brings fall goodness straight to you, but you will encounter plenty of the namesake aspens showing off their fall colors along this drive.
October 1st – October 16th (Southern part of state)
October (Best for Denver)
Golden Gate Canyon State Park – this beautiful park is just outside of Denver, near Golden. An easily accessible state park brings some of the best fall colors near Denver. Take a scenic drive and then stop for a quick hike to Panorama Point and enjoy the spectacular views!
City Park – Denver’s premier urban park is located at 23rd Ave and Colorado Boulevard and encompasses 330 acres of trees, lakes and more. The leaves in the city won’t start changing for a few more weeks.
Washington Park – This large urban park is located at S. Downing St. & E. Louisiana Ave. Known for its 3 mile walking path around the perimeter, large trees, flower gardens, lakes, tennis courts and more.
Enjoy the beauty of Colorado this season!