Home to evergreen and aspen lined mountains, snow-capped peaks and roaming elk, Colorado’s fall is taking place now, and these images have us wishing we could be there to experience the beautiful landscapes in all their golden glory.
The Rocky Mountain outdoor playground is the perfect getaway for experiencing the USA’s famed fall season, showcasing its colours year-after-year. Perhaps you’ll even want to earmark some of these destinations for visiting in 2021.
1. Fall Pastures, Buena Vista
Located at the foot of the Continental Divide, expansive fall foliage and views of the Collegiate Peaks make Buena Vista one of the most beautiful outdoor locations to head to in Colorado as autumn arrives. Its higher elevation Aspen trees are the first to turn gold in late September, followed by the lower elevation groves and cottonwoods along the Arkansas River in early October. Book ahead of next fall, with accommodation options spanning cosy cabins, guest ranches (Elk Mountain Ranch), hot spring resorts (Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort) and boutique riverside stays (Surf Hotel & Chateau).
2. Rocky Mountain National Park’s resident wildlife
Fall is the best time for spotting resident elk at Rocky Mountain National Park and gateway town, Estes Park, as elk rutting season takes hold. At its peak from mid-September until mid-October each year, there’s plenty of tours that you can look into for catching next year’s wildlife display, including a Ruttin’ Around sunset jeep tour and an Elk Rut Safari photography tour.
3. Aspen’s Maroon Bells
Known as the most photographed mountains in North America and a great location for mountain biking at this time of year. Aspen’s two Maroon Bells peaks and crystal-clear lake form a magnificent scene, and in fall, the golden Aspen trees cast a glow across the mountains and vibrant reflection on the lake.
4. Sunset on the mountains near Telluride
Tucked in the South West corner of Colorado, the town of Telluride sits in a box canyon that comes alive with colour each fall, before becoming a premier ski destination each winter. Steeped in Old West and Pioneering history, fall activities to look forward to for next year can include a jeep tour of the mining ghost towns in the surrounding mountains, Via Ferrata, hiking to waterfalls and exploring the town’s clapboard fronted boutique shops, saloons and selection of eateries.
5. White water rafting, Glenwood Canyon
The largest canyon on the Upper Colorado River. The steep 1,300-foot walls of Glenwood Canyon are dotted with gold, yellow and green as fall takes hold. To book front seat views with a side of thrill next year, check out Glenwood Adventure Company who operate off-road adventures, as well as kayaking and white water rafting through the canyon.
6. Fall sunset near Edwards, Vail Valley
Before skiers descend upon the local resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek from November each year, Vail Valley is set alight with colour, while the top of the mountains are dusted white with the first snowfalls of the season. Beat the crowds in 2021 and head to the mountains for leaf-peeping season, best explored from up high on a gondola, on the many hiking and biking trails, with a horse ride and picnic courtesy of Beaver Creek Stables or as part of a scenic road trip.
7. Fly-fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado’s peaceful and socially distanced past-time of fly-fishing for native trout is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the fall colours and mountain scenery by the lakes and rivers of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park.
8. A fall horseback ride, Telluride
Colorado’s San Juan Mountains played a pivotal role in the state’s gold-mining era and formation of Old West mountain towns. Picture yourself riding through the landscape, which was used as the background in classic Western film, True Grit, and more recently, Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, on a horseback ride in fall.
9. Fall hikes in Glenwood Springs
Away from the crowds, leaf-peeping season in the 100 per cent self-sufficient mountain town of Glenwood Springs is best experienced on its many hiking trails. As the sun sets, it’s time to kick off the hiking boots and enjoy one of the areas renowned geothermal hot springs, including Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, home to the largest hot spring pool in the world.
10. Late fall in Leadville
As the USA’s highest incorporated town (10,152 feet above sea level), Leadville sees the snow earlier than most locations each year. The area is flanked by the highest mountains in the Rockies and has a colourful frontier and mining history, with mountain biking escapades turning to fat bike adventures as the snow settles in.
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