Leaf Peepin’ the High Rockies

Fall is here! This is perhaps the most short-lived of all the seasons in the high rockies, but also one of the most beloved. For a window of time, the aspen groves and mountain foliage take on the most exquisite gold, orange and burgundy hues. Whether you are driving, biking, hiking, or lucky enough to see them from your mountain abode, this is a special time of year in Summit County. 

A beautiful drive on a Colorado Autumn day cannot be beat. Grab your warm beverage from any one of our amazing local coffee shops (we love Red Buffalo CafeRocky Mountain Roasters and Cool River Cafe) and hit the road! Heading south, the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway passes near Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest 14er, as well as its famous neighbor Mt. Massive. Way further to the south, The Million Dollar Highway near Silverton passes through the beautiful San Juan mountains with switchbacks, exposure and excitement! If you’re looking to stay closer to Summit County, Loveland Pass and Mt Evans Road (the highest paved road in the US) are great options. Honorable mention: Cottonwood Pass and Ute Pass

Looking for something a bit more human-powered? Mountain biking in the fall is exceptionally fantastic! Avoid the intense sun exposure and summer crowds, and hit the autumn trails. Aspen Alley in Breckenridge and Sheep Creek Trail in Kremmling are two highlights for nearby options. Taking the adventure a bit further, make sure to check out Monarch Crest Trail near Salida and anything on Kebler Pass in Crested Butte. Fruita and Grand Junction have always boasted some of the best mountain biking in Colorado – we really love the 18 Road Trails in Fruita!

For the purest of activities, nothing beats a good hike. Of course, Colorado has no shortage of trails in the high rockies, but some stand out more than others when it comes to leaf peepin’! If you’re feeling ambitious and want to summit a peak the drive up Guanella Pass is stunning, and Mt. Beirstadt is typically considered Colorado’s “easiest” 14er. Eaglesmere Lakes, outside of Silverthorne, & Piney River Falls, near Vail, are two beautifully scenic hikes to consider. Of course, no fall hiking list would be complete without the mention of Aspen’s famous Maroon Bells, an easy 3 mile trek to the lake, and several trails to explore past that to avoid the crowds. 

Whether you are driving, biking or hiking, Colorado’s short window of fall is not to be overlooked! We’re about a week into the changes, and often times this extraordinary event only lasts 2-3 weeks, so now is the time to get out and enjoy the weather and the views! What are your favorite leaf peepin’ areas? We would love to hear from you, if you’re willing to give away your secrets! 

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