With summer soon transitioning into fall, it won’t be long before the mountains are on fire with the brilliant reds and yellows of the season.
Generally, the best time to see the leaves is between mid-September and mid-October, so mark you calendars!
As for the best places to go, EnCompass magazine suggests four Colorado drives that will take you into the heart of the beauty:
1. Start in Carbondale and head south on State Highway 133. (EnCompass warns drivers to fill the gas tank first, as there are few, if any, places to buy gas along the way.) Head into the Crystal River Valley and continue about six miles past Redstone to the turn for Marble. In Marble, the Crystal Mill provides a wonderful foreground for photographs (though you’ll need a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle to get there).
2. If you’re on drive 1, you can continue south of Marble, heading over McClure Pass. Here, you’ll find a riot of color and can easily pull off the road to take pictures and enjoy the views. Then turn east off SH 133 onto County Road 12 and over Kebler Pass. You’ll see meadows, cattle, guest ranches and enough aspen trees to sate any leaf-peeping desires.
3. Starting from Colorado Springs, take U.S. 24 to Divide, then head south on County Road 67 to Cripple Creek. You’ll see aspen trees all along the trip. EnCompass recommends a stop at Mueuller State Park’s Trail 17, which offers a beautiful and moderately difficult four-hour hike. The Visitors Center has maps.
4. Independence Pass into Aspen offers glorious vistas (though claustrophobic drivers beware: the road is very narrow and winding). Once in Aspen, you can take scenic side trips to the ghost town of Ashcroft, the Maroon Bells, or Carbondale.