Every year, the peak season for seeing Colorado fall colors shifts a little (or some years, a lot). Here’s an updated guide for catching fall colors in Colorado in 2021.
Colorado is known for a lot of things, and the yearly changing of the colors is at the top of the list! With people visiting from around the country (and the world) to get a look at the gorgeous fall foliage, searching for fall colors in Colorado can get a little crazy! Here’s what you need to know to catch the best Colorado fall colors in 2021.
Timing is Key
Think it’s too soon to be talking about the fall colors in Colorado? It may still be hot in Denver, but the peak colors are just a few weeks away in some places. And in order to see them in all their glory, you’ve got to get the timing just right.
The predicted peak of Colorado fall colors for 2021
The predictions for Colorado fall colors in 2021 are showing that peak colors will last from September 15th to October 3rd. If it seems like a long stretch of time for leaf peeping, remember this. Depending on what altitude you’re at, Colorado fall colors reach their peak at very different times. Check out this fantastic map to see when and where in the state you’ll find the best Colorado fall colors.
As much as we’d love for these predictions to be spot on, weather can change without notice in the Centennial State. If a cold snap rushes in sooner than expected, we might see the 2021 fall colors showing up sooner than expected.
Where to find the best Colorado Fall Colors
Ready to book that ticket and find your fall mountain getaway? Check out these hotspots and you’ll be sure to catch the best of Colorado’s fall color scene.
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The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is the perfect spot to enjoy the height of fall colors in Colorado. With plenty of options for hotels and vacation rentals (as well as some great breweries to enjoy if you’re just passing through), there’s lots to do. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike along any one of the amazing trails in Rocky Mountain. For a more relaxed day, drive up Trail Ridge Road to see the fall colors change between the valley and the high alpine.
A famous spot for those that love fall in Colorado. Home to epic skiing in the winter, Crested Butte is an adorable mountain town that’s worth the extra drive. Don’t forget to across the scenic high mountain Kebler Pass on your way in (or out).
If there’s one place that’s synonymous with Colorado fall colors, it’s Aspen. Aptly named for the miles of aspen trees in and around the town, Aspen is home to the most photographed mountains in Colorado- the Maroon Bells. If you’re planning a trip to this leaf peeping hot spot, make sure to get your reservations well in advance. You’ll need to reserve a round-trip bus ride to get to and from the Maroon Bells.
Looking for a quick getaway close to Denver? The tiny town of Nederland is tucked just above Boulder at the perfect elevation for aspen trees. Wander through the town itself, or take a short drive towards the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Start a hike from the Hessie Trailhead that’s just 10 minutes outside of Nederland and enjoy the changing colors truly surrounded by mountains.
Another great option for a quick getaway, Kenosha Pass is well-known for show stopping fall foliage, and it’s less than an hour from downtown Denver. Simply drive the pass, or spend a whole weekend camping out in this beautiful area.
Surrounded by views of nearby 14,000 foot peaks, the town of Breckenridge is lined with yellow and orange aspen leaves each fall. If you want to experience an extra-scenic drive, take the longer route from Denver and drive into Breckenridge from Fairplay. Trust us, it’s worth it!
Book a weekend stay in nearby Buena Vista or Salida, then explore Monarch Pass during the day. A drive up the pass will show you the Colorado fall colors with a 360 degree view. And, if you prefer a more secluded experience, take advantage of the great campsites you have easy access to along the pass.
Backcountry Spots to See the Fall Colors in Colorado
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Want to skip the crowds of tourists and enjoy the changing colors in solitude? With miles of trails and plenty of backcountry spots to choose from, it’s easy to get the best fall colors all to yourself. You will have to work for it, though! These are some of our favorite spots for fall backcountry camping in Colorado.
Four Pass Loop: Aspen
This is a challenging 26 mile loop that takes you through the amazing backcountry surrounding Aspen. For a once-in-a-lifetime view of the changing leaves, this is the trip to take! Be prepared: you’ll need a bear canister to properly store food, and make sure to pack bear spray.
Bald Mountain: Breckenridge
Experience some elevation, but still be back in time for happy hour! Hike to the top of Bald Mountain, just outside of Breckenridge, to see the Colorado fall colors from above! This 10 mile trail will certainly get your blood pumping, but be ready for cooler temperatures with a fleece or hoodie.
Lost Lake: Nederland
Prefer to get the legs moving, but not run a marathon? Check out Lost Lake for an easy-to-get-to backcountry destination. Just a mile and half from the Hessie Trailhead, you can pitch your tent near Lost Lake for the night, or continue on to more challenging destinations. Either way, you’ll enjoy one of the best ways to see thefall colors in Colorado.
Ready to see the Colorado fall colors in 2021? Make sure to back your bag with an extracolorado beanie and somewarm layers- cooler weather is just around the corner!
Did we miss your favorite spot to catch thebest Colorado fall colors? Let us know in the comments below!
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