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

By Kyrie Collins, Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher September 11, 2023

"Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver." ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson 

This time of year, I can't resist the lure of the mountains and the chance to see the landscape transform into a shimmering sea as the delicate aspen leaves change from green to a variety of golden hues.

The opportunity to see autumn leaves in Colorado is brief, from mid-September to mid-October, and usually only lasts a week or two in some areas.

Find an afternoon to venture out and enjoy all that autumn in Colorado has to offer. Remember, aspens at higher elevations change sooner than those closer to the Front Range, so be sure to check current conditions before heading 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 (September 30-October 1, 2023): 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