Best of Colorado: Fall Hikes & Drives

15622686855_ca4477663f_zThe joys of fall are simple, crisp weather and leaves crunching underfoot, boots and jackets, scarves and hot tea, pumpkins and delightful costumes. Best of all, however, are the spectacular colors of fall. Here in Colorado we’re especially lucky, as the brilliant yellows of the Aspens are framed by mountain scenery.

Here at Madison we love the changing seasons and all the new experiences they bring. Hiking and driving through the fall foliage is a favorite, so here are a few of the best places to see the colors – both on foot and from the car.

Colorado has 26 Scenic and Historic Byways, perfect for those fall drives.

Top of the Rockies takes you from Copper Mountain to Leadville and towards Aspen, crossing the Continential Divide and seeing the spectacular Mt. Elbert (tallest 14er in Colorado). Highlights and places to stop: Independence Ghost Town Site, Twin Lakes and Indepenence Pass.

West Elk Loop hits three national forests, journeying through Paonia, Gunnison, Crested Butte and Carbondale. McClure Pass is the perfect photo opp, but don’t forget to pause at Black Canyon o fthe Gunnison National Park where Morrow Point, Blue Mesa and Crystal Lake meet for the perfect view.

Peak to Peak takes you through Aspen-filled valleys and the Continential Divide, starting in Black Hawk and ending in Estes Park. This scenic byway is Colorado’s oldest.

San Juan Scenic Byway meanders through Telluride, Durango and Ouray, a perfect taste of classic Colorado. The views of San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests are unbelievable, and Mesa Verde National Park is also the perfect place to pause and see the views.

Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. It’s one of Colorado’s 54 14ers, so you can drive or hike to the top to see the spectacular view. Be sure to visit Echo Lake, the perfect spot for a picnic.

Trail Ridge Road is an 8-mile road, perfect for photographers and fall-color finders. It’s embedded in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, a glorious place to hangout post-hike, for a perfect fall getaway day. Rocky Mountain National Park is full of trails and scenic hikes, for those itching to get out of the car and adventure.

sunrisemaroonbellsKebler Pass in Gunnison is a favorite for photographers, famously shot by the renowed photographer John Fielder. Gunnison is home to some of North America’s largest Aspen trees. This pass is typically hiked, but the Gunnison Aspens can still be seen from the road!

The famous Maroon Bells are another spectacular hike. About 3 hours from Denver, this iconic view is well worth the drive. It makes an easy day hike, or for more experienced and dedicated outdoorsy folks, there are a few backpacking loops.

Mt. Bierstadt, Colorado’s “easiest” 14er offers gorgeous views as well. Guanella Pass is the way to go. The lake view is stunning, even if hikers perfer to hike for a shorter time and not summit the mountain. Historic Georgetown is the perfect place to grab coffee and lunch.

Golden Gate Canyon Park boasts of over 12,000 acres of land for exploring, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and more. The park is a mere 30 miles from Denver, making it easily accessible for busy Denverites. Filled with Aspen views and mountain peaks, this park is just begging to be visited.

A classic Colorado view, the Boulder Flatirons never grow old. Chautauqua Park is the entry to a variety of trails and rock-climbing available. The towering Flatirons are always impressive, and give way to simply glorious views.

These are only a few of hundreds of places in Colorado to hike, drive, mountain bike, run and explore. The views are always impressive, the colors only seem to grow brighter and the sunrises and sunsets always steal your breath. We are so excited for this Colorado fall!

 

Links:

http://www.colorado.com/articles/fall-drives-5-color-drenched-colorado-scenic-byways

http://www.colorado.com/articles/10-places-see-colorados-fall-color

http://blog.rmhp.org/2014/10/top-10-trails-for-fall-hiking-in-colorado/

http://dayhikesneardenver.com/fall-color-aspen-hikes/