From Halloween hijinks to pumpkin spice lattes, there’s a lot to love about Autumn, but for Coloradans it’s all about the Fall colors. From September through October, the Centennial State explodes in a majestic mix of colors, no Instagram filter necessary. This socially distanced, free outing is perfect for nature buffs, photographers, couples, and families.

If you’d like to see the splendor for yourself but don’t know where to start, read our recommendations for the best Colorado spots to see the leaves change.

1. Golden

Located 12 miles from Denver, Golden lets you get lost in nature without venturing too far from city comforts. The Clear Creek Trail at Lions Park is a good place to start if you’re not looking for a challenge. Partly paved and near the city, it’s the perfect place for a short stroll. Once you’re done taking in the colors, you can explore the town of Golden, home to one of the largest breweries in the world.

2. Georgetown

Founded during the Gold Rush in 1859, Georgetown retains its vintage charm to this day. There are numerous museums and shops to explore, as well as a train tour of historic mines in the area, but you’d do well to hop in your car and simply drive up Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. It winds past a series of mountains and hillsides that are breathtakingly colorful in the Fall. Having done this drive myself, I strongly recommend this one.

🍂 Fun Fact 🍁 Colorado’s scenic beauty led to its nickname, Colorful Colorado, and Colorado is Spanish for “color red”, a reference to the color of the famous river that shares its name with the state.

3. Estes Park

Estes Park is at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, making it a spectacular destination any time of year. However, it truly shines in late September when the leaves begin to turn. The best time to visit is during the Autumn Gold Festival  (Sept. 25 & 26) when – in addition to the gorgeous scenery – you’ll be treated to food vendors, drinks, and live music.

4. Poudre Canyon

Running between Fort Collins and Walden, the Cache la Poudre-North Park Scenic Byway offers incredible views of Poudre Canyon and the Cache la Poudre River. Numerous pull-offs and campgrounds allow you to stop and take in the scenery or do some fishing.

5. McClure Pass

Tucked away between the Roaring Fork Valley and the North Fork Valley , McClure Pass is a spectacular sight in Autumn, when Aspen trees start to take on a golden hue. Easily accessible via State Highway 133, and close to the towns of Carbondale and Basalt, this is a convenient getaway worth seeing.

6. Maroon Bells

No list of Fall colors would be complete without mentioning the Maroon Bells. Towering over a lush meadow below, the twin peaks of the Maroon Bells are two of the most photographed mountains in North America, and as the photograph below shows, it’s no surprise why. The landscapes are awe-inspiring and dotted with campgrounds, scenic roads, and hiking trails to allow you to soak it all. Nearby, the gorgeous town of Aspen awaits with fine dining and entertainment options. If unrelenting natural beauty is what you seek, you’ll find it here.

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