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Drive in Colorado For the Fall Colors

Updated on September 7, 2011
Drive in Colorado for Fall Colors. The changing of the Aspens offers spectacular views statewide.
Drive in Colorado for Fall Colors. The changing of the Aspens offers spectacular views statewide.

Colorado Fall Colors

Nothing is more breathtaking than a drive in Colorado for Fall Colors late in September through early October. The Rocky Mountains are an amazing place during the summer, but it does not rival the amazing hues and views of the Autumn season. If you're visiting Denver or just live here and never been, I'll show you four places across the state where stunning views of the changing aspen trees can be seen. With the brilliant yellows, oranges and reds of the turning leaves highlighting the scenic mountainsides, you'll be amazed with how far you feel from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Echo Lake

If you're looking to stay near to the Metro Denver Area, the best place to view the autumn aspens in Colorado is the route to Echo Lake, near Evergreen. This scenic route winds through forests of pine and aspens. There are several places along the way to pull over and photograph the fall landscape. Around half way you'll be met with the quaint Echo Lake Lodge where you can enjoy a cozy refill. Further down the way is the lake itself, which offers both fishing and camping opportunities.

Route: From the Metro Area, take I-70 heading West. Exit at the Evergreen Parkway. Travel Evergreen Parkway then take a right onto Squaw Pass Road (Highway 103). Squaw Pass Road is the scenic route that will lead you to Echo Lake. You can either turn around or continue onto Idaho Springs where I-70 should be taken East back to Denver. In total, the driving time for the whole trip should be around 3-4 hours.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect way to enjoy the changing Aspens a little further away from Denver. Not only will you see the wonderful fall foliage, you might have a chance at seeing the large elk herds that roam the park. September 24th is a free day for the National Park, so you'll be able to plan a picnic and enjoy the wildlife. After the park, take Trail Ridge Road (US 34). This road is the highest paved road in America and offers stunning views of the fall colors. It'll take a full day to drive this route, but the panoramic views atop Trail Ridge Road are rivaled to none!

Route: From the Metro Area, take US-36 West towards Boulder. Follow US-36(CO-66) through Lyons and Estes Park where it becomes Moraine Avenue. This will take you into the park. You can also continue on Moraine Avenue which turns into Trail Ridge Road. Continuing down Trail Ridge Road will lead you pass Grand Lake and into Granby. From Granby, take US-40 towards Fraser. This will lead you through more spectacular views through Winter Park and Empire. Catch I-70 East at the end of US-40 to complete your journey back to Denver. The driving time for the round trip is 5-6 hours.

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Kebler Pass

For the folks visiting Western Colorado, Kebler Pass offers the perfect opportunity to capture endless photographs along this Aspen studded gravel road. Kebler Pass closes early to mid October depending on the weather, so make sure you visit during late September to see the fall colors. This two hour short journey from Crested Butte to Highway 133 is the perfect route for those wanting to avoid the main tourist routes for the changing fall colors.

Route: From the Town of Crested Butte, take CO-12 heading West. CO-12 will take you straight over Kebler Pass before it intersects with Highway 133. You can travel north to Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, where you take I-70 East back to Denver.

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Kenosha Pass

If you're in the mood to travel South of Denver, highway 285 through to the South Park area offers great views of the changing Aspens. From Denver, you'll drive through the towns of Bailey and Conifer before reaching the top of Kenosha Pass. At the top, you be able to enjoy a beautiful scenic view that overlooks the entire South Park valley and the brilliant Aspens in full fall glory.

Route: From C-470 take US-285 West towards Fairplay. Stay on the road until you reach the town of Fairplay, approximately a two hours drive. If you plan on stopping at Kenosha Pass, you'll see parking on both sides of the Highway.

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