Here at MER, we believe there is something special about exploring the outdoors in autumn when opportunities abound to view fall foliage in Colorado. The crisp fall air, the crunch of leaves under your feet, and watching as the foothills and mountains clothe themselves in fall’s beautiful golden aspen mantle -all come together to make the autumn season a favorite of both native Coloradans and transplants.
If you are in the mood for a beautiful leaf-peeping adventure but unsure where to go, we are here to help. With the help of our staff, we have compiled a list of some of the most beautiful places to view fall foliage in Colorado.
Seven Bridges is an up-and-back trail located at the top of North Cheyenne Cañon. Not only will you enjoy the babbling of the meandering Cheyenne Creek, but there’s a beautiful aspen grove past the 7th bridge, along with splendid views of the valley and Colorado Springs below.
Mount Buckhorn Peak
Located in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, this 8,380 ft peak provides breathtaking 360-degree views that are an especially spectacular place to view fall foliage in Colorado.
Mueller State Park
This beautiful park with 55 miles of trails is a 45-minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs. A recommended hike for aspen viewing is Cheesman Ranch Loop, a moderate 5.4-mile trail weaving enticingly in and out of meadows and aspen groves.
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Catamount Trail is one of our favorite close-to-home places to view fall foliage in Colorado. Located in the small town of Green Mountain Falls just off Highway 24, you’ll find the trailhead for a 7-mile round-trip to South Catamount Reservoir. The dirt road leading to the reservoir boasts beautiful aspens, and as a bonus, you have a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak to look forward to at the end.
The Crags Trail
With its spectacular granite features, the Crags Trail is an excellent hike for viewing aspens. The trailhead is in Divide, near the Crags Campground. We love this hike because the trail leads you through a grassy valley containing aspen and willow trees.
Continue on the trail for about 4 miles to Crags Lookout. You know you are close to the end when the trail abruptly ends at a rock face. But don’t stop there, keep going, and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous panoramic vista of fall colors.
Vindicator Valley Trail
Thousands stricken with gold fever traveled into this region on the southwest side of Pikes Peak in the 1890s. Their goal was to get to the Cripple Creek & Victor Mining District, where newly found gold was the lure. Today, fall hikers can enjoy a different kind of gold on trails leading through this area.
If you want a challenging hike, Dome Rock State Wildlife Area features a loop hike of 10.5 miles with canyons, a creek with beaver dams, meadows, and spectacular views of Pikes Peak. In the fall, the star attractions are the vast aspen groves that compete successfully with the main feature at other times of the year, the enormous granite Dome Rock.
Cottonwood Lake and Pass
Cottonwood Pass is one of Colorado’s most beautiful areas to view fall foliage. Located directly west of Buena Vista, on Chaffee County Road 306, you eventually reach a fork in the road. Either direction leads to vibrant colors, but if you choose the road to Cottonwood Lake, you are in for a special treat since the fall colors often reflect off the lake.
Highway of Legends – Spanish Peaks
The Highway of Legends in Southern Colorado is indeed legendary. Otherwise known as Highway 12, this is the road less traveled for many seeking beautiful vistas instead of the monotony of I-25. From Walsenburg to Trinidad, you will enjoy views from the top of Cucharas and Cordova Passes that are sure to fill you will wonder and appreciation for Colorful Colorado.
Independence Pass / Maroon Bells
No list of best places to view fall foliage in Colorado would be complete without mentioning Independence Pass. Winding along the Roaring Forks River, driving Independence Pass is not for the faint of heart. This narrow stretch of Highway 82 between Leadville and Aspen contains twists and turns with a sheer rock wall on one side, steep drop-offs on the other, and only a few guard rails. For those sure behind the wheel, though, this is one of the most beautiful areas to take in the wonder of autumn in Colorado.
If you finish your drive on Independence Pass and are still longing for a little more color, be sure to take one of the beautiful hikes around Maroon Bells. This area is quite possibly the most photographed in all of Colorado, but photos fail to do justice to the beauty captured by the naked eye. If you choose to view fall foliage from this popular spot, check out this informative article from Colorado.com regarding access and required reservations.
MER Encourages Everyone to View Fall Foliage in Colorado!
Colorful Colorado truly lives up to the hype in the autumn. Even your drive to work can offer amazing opportunities to view fall foliage in Colorado if you keep your mind and eyes open to the beauty around you.
At MER, we want everyone to get outdoors and enjoy the views. That is why we offer great used outdoor equipment from top brands we love at great prices. Why not stop by our store on Bott Street in Colorado Springs’ westside and see what we have in stock today?
You may find just the thing to inspire your next great adventure!