Welcome to American Backcountry’s Notes from the Trail. Here we share stories and thoughts from some of our favorite contributors. Each mountain is different and each trip has a different story – these are notes collected along the trail.
Fall in the Colorado Mountains
October 18, 2018
Colorado is notorious for the beautiful Aspens that grow in the area and their fall colors in September and October. The trees spread throughout Rocky Mountain National Park and beyond as rays of yellow, orange and some red. But the season can be a bit tricky when finding the right place to go and at the right time. Luckily, we’re here to give you updates on color change and trail information for anywhere you want to go! Whether you live in the area or are planning a visit, jot some of these must-see destinations down for your next adventure.
1) Steamboat Springs
The city name just sounds like a fun getaway weekend! Steamboat Springs has everything you need for a fun weekend or week-long stay. Enjoy a hike through the Aspens, take a dip in their local hot springs or enjoy a bike ride through the woods on their various bike paths. Steamboat Springs is truly an outdoor town sitting at 6,732-ft elevation. Take a peak at the local events before you plan your trip as they hold many fall fairs, art festivals and an OktoberWest. Stay in an Airbnb or try camping if it is not too late in the season!
2) Maroon Bells
When you look up fall in the Colorado mountains you can’t find a list without the notorious Maroon Bells. Known for their vibrant fall colors, this area is on the top of everyone’s list. Known as the most photographed place in Colorado try and swing by this area on the weekday and either in the early morning or evening to avoid the crowds and flocks of cameramen and women! Located just 10 miles west of Aspen this is a great option for a day trip. There is a local bus that shuttles visitors to a from the trail head due to lack of parking. The bus operates between 8 am to 5 pm from mid-June through early October.
3) Kenosha Pass
Kenosha Pass sits at 10,000 feet elevation so the fall colors will start sprouting in early September and continue through early October. This is an out-and-back hike, so you can make this trek as long or as short as you like! Don’t forget your camera as the trail starts through a forest of aspens as you walk along the base of the trees. After a mile or so the trail opens to view a spectacular display of colors over the valley. You may think you hear some Elk bulging but those sounds may just be the cows from the field down below. Have the weekend to explore? Map your route and backpack along the Colorado trail to view some different scenery.
4) Sprague Lake
Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Sprague Lake is a great option for the whole family. The path around the lake is paved making this wheelchair accessible and the information stands around the lake provide some great facts for the little ones. The trip around the lake is a quick mile. There is a parking lot right next to the lake but due to the popularity of this hike you may want to consider the free park shuttle the park provides. Enjoy the hike as a sunrise hike and view the fall colors with the morning sun beaming off the leaves, magical.
5) Guanella Pass
A quick hour from Denver, head over to Georgetown, Colorado for some delicious beers from the local brewery, handmade crafts, art galleries, and of course, a drive up Guanella Pass. Driving up the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway you will have fantastic views of Georgetown, Mount Bierstadt and plenty of bright aspens along the way. Pull off for some beautiful hikes or simply enjoy the beauty by Clear Lake and take advantage of the many picnic tables in this area. If you have time for a hike the Silver Dollar Lake trail is a great option for a 4-mile round trip excursion to an alpine lake.
Even though it may be cooler, remember your sunscreen as the sun is just as strong in the fall as it is in the summer. And don’t forget to pack along your Rocky Mountain National Park tee to look and feel the part while you’re exploring!