Autumn in Colorado is extraordinary. As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to drop, the state’s vast landscapes transform into a stunning canvas of gold, red, and orange hues. The aspen trees, in particular, take center stage, their leaves turning a brilliant gold that contrasts beautifully against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Best Time to Visit Colorado in Fall

The best time to visit Colorado in fall typically ranges from late September to mid-October. However, this can vary depending on the region and elevation. For those eager to witness this breathtaking transformation, Colorado offers world-class scenic drives, hiking trails, and viewpoints that are incredibly popular among both locals and tourists.

If you’re planning a trip or just curious, here are the top 5 best places in Colorado for fall colors.

1. Maroon Bells

Nestled in the heart of the Elk Mountains, many often hail the Maroon Bells as the most photographed peaks in North America; some even argue that they have the best fall colors in Colorado! During fall, shimmering gold aspens transform this iconic destination against the backdrop of the majestic snow-capped peaks.

Maroon Bells offers a range of activities. There are several hiking trails, these pathways provide varying levels of difficulty, ensuring that everyone, from casual strollers to avid hikers, can enjoy the beauty of the area.  Also, the early morning reflection of the peaks on Maroon Lake makes it a hotspot for photography enthusiasts.

Why Pick it?

  • Easily accessible
  • Unparalleled beauty
  • Golden aspen reflections
  • Maroon-colored peaks
  • Crystal-clear Maroon Lake
  • Famous for fall colors and serene ambiance.

Tips for Traveling:

  • Best Time for Colors: Mid to late September.
  • Accessibility: Reservations are required to visit Maroon Bells and associated trailheads by personal vehicle or shuttle. Reservations can be made at
  • Directions: Maroon Bells
  • Parking Availability: Reservations are required for parking, including overnight parking for backpackers. Those with campground reservations do not need a separate reservation for parking at Maroon Lake. Reservations can be made at
  • Top-Trail: Four Pass Loop – West Maroon to Buckskin. This one represents a global treasure. Covering a distance of 26 miles (42 km), this circuit traverses four mountain passes that exceed an elevation of 12,000 ft. The route takes you alongside pristine alpine lakes and through the formidable peaks of the Elk Range.
  • Available campgrounds:
    • Silver Bar Campground: 4 sites available at this small primitive campground; Silver Bell Campground: 14 sites available on the banks of Maroon Creek; Silver Queen Campground: 5 campsites available, near Maroon Creek.
    • Reservations for these campgrounds can be made at
  • Entry Fees: Public or private shuttle, car, bike… There are different ways to arrive, so you better check the different rates at AspenSnowmass.
  • Experienced Tips: You must store food properly when camping in the developed campgrounds in the Maroon Bells area. It’s recommended to seal and store food in a container inside a vehicle or in bear boxes provided at the campsite.
  • Contact Information for Park or Area: (970) 945-3319. This line provides current Maroon Bells information.
    • For additional information, you can also contact the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District Monday-Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm at (970) 963-2266.
Best Places in Colorado for Fall Colors

2. Kebler Pass

Located near Crested Butte, Kebler Pass offers the quintessential Colorado fall experience. Traversing the pass to Paonia, you encounter expansive aspen groves that transform into a sea of gold and fiery oranges in autumn. The drive through this pass is nothing short of a visual feast, with the winding road offering panoramic views of the West Elk Mountains.

Kebler Pass is a gateway to numerous hiking and biking trails. The pass also offers the chance to explore historic towns like Gothic and Pitkin, adding historical depth to your visit.

Why Pick it?

  • One of the largest aspen groves in North America.
  • Transforms into a golden wonderland during peak fall season.
  • White aspen trunks contrasted with vibrant leaves.
  • Mesmerizing patterns stretching endlessly.
  • A must-visit due to its size and beauty.
  • Favored by photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Tips for Traveling:

  • Best Time for Colors: Late September to early October. However, peak colors only last for several days.
  • Accessibility: The pass is accessible by 2-wheel drive, low-clearance vehicles.
    • Though most vehicles can reach the pass, we recommend a 4×4 for comfort, especially in wet conditions.
    • The gravel road is open from approximately late May to early November. Snow closes it seasonally each winter.
  • Directions:Kebler Pass
    • From Crested Butte, take County Road 12, which turns into Highway 135. Follow over Kebler Pass to Paonia Reservoir and Highway 133.
    • From Paonia, head north on CO 133 for nearly 15 miles, then turn right on County Road 12. Follow this over Kebler Pass to Crested Butte.
  • Parking Availability: There are parking spots available along the route and near trailheads.
  • Top-Trail: Trails like Judd Falls, Trail 401, and Copper Lake are accessible from Kebler Pass Road, offering adventurers a chance to get up close with the fall foliage.
  • Available campgrounds: There are campsites near most lakes and near Crested Butte. Campgrounds like Lake Irwin Campground, Lost Lake Campground-Paonia RD, and Erickson Springs Campground are known for their fishing opportunities.
  • Experienced Tips: For the latest updates on road conditions and closures, it’s recommended to check the Colorado Department of Transportations.

3. Crested Butte

Known as the ‘Wildflower Capital of Colorado,’ Crested Butte town is always on best places in Colorado for fall colors list. Come fall, this charming mountain town is adorned with a vibrant palette of autumn hues. The surrounding valleys and hillsides are blanketed with golden aspens, creating a picturesque setting that’s truly extraordinary.

For those interested in history, the town’s preserved Victorian architecture and historic sites add another layer to the experience.

Why Pick it?

  • High elevation and diverse landscape.
  • Prolonged fall colors season.
  • Town nestled in dense aspen forests.
  • Surrounded by fall beauty from all angles.
  • Merges rustic charm of the historic town with radiant fall colors.
  • Blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.
  • A well-rounded fall destination.

Tips for Traveling:

  • Best Time for Colors: Mid to late September.
  • Accessibility: Crested Butte is accessible year-round, with different recreational opportunities available depending on the season.
  • Directions: Crested Butte
  • Top-Trails: Crested Butte offers numerous trails like the Cliff Creek Trail, Lower Loop Trail, and Dark Canyon Trail that offer immersive experiences amidst the fall foliage.
  • Nearby Amenities:
    • The town boasts music festivals, great restaurants, art galleries, and shops. It also hosts numerous special events and festivities such as the Wildflower Festival, the Crested Butte Arts Fair, and the Crested Butte Summer Music Festival.
  • Experienced Tips: Crested Butte is known as “Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town.” It offers a unique blend of historical charm, with many buildings dating back to the late 1800s when it was a bustling coal mining town, and modern recreational facilities.
  • Contact Information: Official Website of the Town of Crested Butte, Colorado
    • Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Physical Address: 507 Maroon Ave, Crested Butte, CO 81224
    • Phone: 970-349-5338
    • Fax: 970-349-6626
Best time to visit Colorado in Fall

4. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, one of Colorado’s crown jewels, offers a spectacular display of autumn colors. The park melds alpine meadows, dense forests, and rugged peaks. In the fall, the golden hues of aspen and cottonwood trees paint the lower elevations of the park, while the higher elevations display a mix of vibrant shrubs and grasses.

Ranger-led programs, exploring the area’s natural and cultural history, can also enrich your visit. Additionally, diverse wildlife, including elk, live in the park, and you can often see them during their fall rut.

Why Pick it?

  • Diverse elevation for a prolonged fall colors season.
  • Montane ecosystems to alpine tundras each have unique color palettes.
  • Trail Ridge Road:
    • Highest continuous paved road in the U.S.
    • Offers panoramic views of the fall colors.
  • Majestic peaks complemented by captivating fall foliage.
  • Serene landscape for deep immersion in autumn beauty.

Tips for Traveling:

  • Best Time for Colors: Mid September to early October.
  • Accessibility: Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 415 square miles (265,807 acres) and offers a diverse range of mountain environments. The park also provides an all-terrain wheelchair, which can be reserved, to enhance accessibility.
  • Directions: Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Top-Trails: The park offers 350 miles of hiking trails, ranging from flat lakeside walks to challenging mountain climbs. We strongly recommend:
  • Nearby Amenities:
    • The park is near several towns, including Loveland, Lyons, Longmont, Estes Park, Grand Lake, Granby, and Kremmling.
    • Accommodation options range from the iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park to various lodges, cabins, and contemporary hotels.
  • Experienced Tips: Visitors are encouraged to check the weather forecast before their visit, as weather and temperatures can vary greatly in the park.
    • The park promotes the “Recreate Responsibly” initiative, urging visitors to be prepared for various natural challenges like lightning, swift water, and ticks.
  • Contact Information:
    • Mailing Address: 1000 US Hwy 36, Estes Park, CO 80517
    • Phone: 970 586-1206
    • Trail Ridge Road Status: (970) 586-1222

5. Telluride

Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is a gem that shines even brighter during the fall season. This historic mining town transforms into a canvas of yellows, oranges, and reds as aspens flaunt their autumn hues.

Telluride’s unique position in a box canyon means that it’s surrounded on three sides by steep forested mountains. This creates a panoramic view of fall colors, with the town acting as a picturesque centerpiece. The free mountain gondola offers aerial vistas of the town and vibrant valleys—a must-do activity.

Why Pick it?

  • Merges historical charm with breathtaking landscapes.
  • Vibrant fall colors make it a favorite among leaf peepers.
  • Enhanced allure due to its seclusion.
  • Offers a serene escape.

Tips for Traveling:

  • Best Time for Colors: Again, the best dates for fall colors in Colorado are mid September to early October.
  • Directions: Telluride
  • Parking Availability: The town has introduced the Parkmobile App to better serve residents and visitors with parking payments.
  • Top-Trails: The trails are located just a few blocks beyond the town. You can download a map from the Telluride Mountain Village site that has all available trails.
  • Nearby Amenities: The town itself offers a plethora of amenities including festivals, outdoor dining options, and a vibrant main street filled with conversations and iced coffees.
  • Experienced Tips: You must prepare before venturing into the backcountry. This includes checking the weather, and ensuring you have enough food, water, and appropriate clothing.
  • Contact Information: Staff Directory.
Best dates for Fall Colors in Colorado

Peak Foliage Colorado: Autumn Splendor

From the iconic Maroon Bells to the secluded beauty of Telluride, each location reviewed offers a unique perspective of Colorado’s autumnal grandeur. The places we highlighted in this article are just a few of the many spots where you can immerse yourself in Colorado’s fall colors. Whether you’re an avid hiker looking for the best trails, a photographer chasing the perfect shot, or simply someone wanting to bask in nature’s beauty, the best places in Colorado for fall colors will always have something to offer.