Go Leaf-Peeping: Where to View Colorado's Famous Shimmering Aspens

By Eileen Wright August 29, 2022

I grew up in Ohio, in an area surrounded by an abundance of trees that would transform into amazing shades of green, yellow, and brown. As children, my brothers and I would play in piles of leaves in the backyard and chase them around in the breeze. When playtime was over, Dad handed over the rake and garbage bags for us to help clean up yet another season.

When we moved to Denver, I wasn't sure what surprises our new landscape would have in store for us for fall until we started hearing from folks that they were "going to take a drive to view the aspens." 

Do what? Why not! So we did our research and drove out to Echo Lake along Hwy 103 through a beautiful sea of golden hues! I had found my backyard! Each year since, we have tried to find an afternoon to venture out and enjoy what Colorado has to offer and to get those perfect family shots for the holiday card!

The opportunity to see the changing leaves is brief, from mid-September to mid-October and usually only lasts a week or two in some areas. Aspens at higher elevations change sooner than those closer to the Front Range. So be sure to check current conditions before venturing out!

Day Drives

  • Guanella Pass Scenic Byway (mid-September to early October): This pass is accessible from Georgetown and extends through the Pike and Arapahoe National Forests, climbing to over 11,000 feet.
  • Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (mid-September to early October): Extending from Black Hawk to Estes Park.
  • Loveland Pass Loop (mid-September to early October): Highway 6 will lead you past Keystone and A-Basin to the top of the Continental Divide.
  • Mt. Evans Scenic Byway (mid-September to mid-October): It's perfect for an afternoon drive when you're short on time.
  • Georgetown Loop Railroad (late September to mid-October): Take a ride on the rail to see the golden beauty surrounding the towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume.
  • Golden Gate Canyon State Park (most of October): Only 20 miles west of Denver, this area is dotted with many aspen groves and offers a fantastic panoramic view of the Rockies.
  • Lariat Loop Scenic Byway (most of October): This will take you from Evergreen on Highway 74 to Bergen Park and back down through Golden.

Weekend Trips

  • Trail Ridge Road (mid-September to early October) and Elk Fest, Estes Park (October 1-2, 2022): As the highest continuously paved road in North America, this is the top pick by many as it weaves through Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake. Elk Fest includes elk bugling, education, entertainment, and more.
  • Maroon Bells (weekends only through mid-October), Aspen: The most photographed peaks in North America and accessible by shuttle only.

 ➡️ Return to the Macaroni Kid Douglas County ULTIMATE Fall and Halloween FUN Guide