The Best Places to See Fall Colors in Colorado

It’s not too late to plan a fall trip. In fact, for some people, it might be the best time of year to go on vacation!

Colorado is one of the best states in America for viewing fall colors. And there are plenty of places to see them throughout Colorado. Here are some of the top spots in Colorado that will make your trip perfect this fall!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in America. It is a favorite destination for tourists and wildlife enthusiasts. People come from all over the world to see the wonders of this place. There are many attractions in the park. You may want to visit some of them during the year. But if you’re looking for colors, head there during September or October when they’re at their most beautiful.

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to many exciting attractions, here are some of our favorites.

– Moraine Park

Moraine Park Campground (8,160 feet) is located near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on Highway 36

Moraine Park is a serene campground surrounded by pine trees and patches of aspen. It is the perfect place to enjoy the sounds of nature, being in a beautiful and peaceful setting with views of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Many trails allow hiking and biking opportunities and many events and celebrations such as star gazing parties.

The Moraine Park Loop is a breathtaking hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Trail winds around rolling golden meadows and clusters of elk, providing a peaceful escape against the backdrop of snow-covered Rocky Mountain peaks.

– Bear Lake

Bear Lake is located near the Beaver Meadows Entrance on Highway 36. The lake sits in a deep valley surrounded by mountain peaks southwest of Moraine Park. It offers an excellent opportunity to see wildlife during the day and stars at night; a great place for photographers!

Take Bear Lake Road off Highway 36; follow the signs for about 15 miles, then get out your cameras!

Several scenic turnouts along the way provide ample opportunities to view flowers, wildlife, and views of fall colors. The colors are at their best from the second to the third week of October.

It is recommended to do the more crowded Bear Lake hike first and then driving to Sprague Lake to enjoy lunch and a walk.

– Sprague Lake

This beautiful wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail offer hikers of all abilities the opportunity to relax in a scenic spot. The site is set along the shoreline of Sprague Lake, which provides a great view of many mountain peaks.

The trail is a 1-mile loop that begins with a gentle climb before heading downhill through the forest, emerging at the lake.

The colors are at their best from late September until mid-October here.

As you return from Bear Lake, take a right on Sprague Lake Road and then continue to the parking lot for the Sprague Lake Trailhead.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a beautiful place filled with red sandstone formations. The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is located in Colorado Springs. 

It’s a popular destination for photographers, hikers, geologists, and other tourists seeking to enjoy nature’s beauty while they visit. The colors are at their best from the first week of October until the first week of November. If you get there during that time, you’ll see a fantastic range of colors, from bright greens to dark browns.

There are many rock formations at the Garden of the Gods:

– Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is a large rock hovering over a pathway, and it’s one of the top attractions at Garden of the Gods. The view from above is considered to be one of the best in Colorado Springs. You’ll get an excellent shot if you do some climbing or if you snap photos from below!

Other formations include:

  • Cathedral Spires
  • Giant Footprints
  • Gray Rock
  • Keyhole Window
  • Kissing Camels
  • Siamese Twins

Any many more.

Estes Park

Estes Park is a beautiful town that sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s known for its breathtaking views, shopping centers, and outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and boating. So if you’re looking for a place to escape from city life and enjoy breathtaking scenery, this is it!

A few of the top places to visit from here are:

– Trail Ridge Road:  

This is a high mountain road that connects Estes Park and Grand Lake. The most elevated paved highway in America, it is more than 12,000 feet above sea level. It offers many attractions, including views of fall colors and wildlife.

With a maximum incline of 7% and two lanes spanning 22 feet, this road is open to traffic from May 1 through October 31. So be sure to visit it in September or October for spectacular views of fall colors!

– Million Dollar Highway: 

One of the newest gold rush roads is about 30 miles long and stretches between Twin Sisters Peaks and Loveland Pass, west of Estes Park. This incredible road offers jaw-dropping views of Rocky Mountain National Park’s gorgeous landscape that you can enjoy while driving or hiking along its trails.

Estes Park has many beautiful attractions, events, and nature trails to enjoy throughout the year. Take a trip there soon – you won’t be disappointed!

Some of our favorite hikes that offer views of fall colors:

– Fall River and Dream Lake Trails: 

These trails are located just north of the Grand Lake Entrance Station. Hiking on this trail is a breathtaking experience; as you walk along the backcountry trail

– Thomas Lakes Trail 

Thomas Lakes Trail is located in Glacier Gorge, one of the most remote areas in Rocky Mountain, just west of Horseshoe Park. The trail leads to the Thomas Lakes, a collection of lakes surrounded by wildflowers and steep granite cliffs that have been carved out from glacial activity.

– Sky Pond Loop Trail

Sky Pond Loop Trail, is located at the Beaver Meadows entrance on Highway 36, southeast of Estes Park. The trail climbs to the ridge through wildflowers and aspen groves while offering views of these beautiful lakes and mountains- a must-see!

– Fern Lake Trail

Fern Lake Trail can be found in Rocky Mountain National park, southwest of Estes Park on Highway 36. This strenuous hike leads to an alpine lake at over 11,000 feet. It’s a well-known trail that is frequently crowded in the summer, so if you’re looking for solitude, this might not be the trail for you.

– The Loch Vale Trail 

Lock Vale Trail can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park just west of Estes Park on Highway 7. This easy and short hike leads to a glacial lake surrounded by granite boulders that provide a serene and quiet backdrop.

As you can see, Colorado offers many beautiful spots to explore this fall. Enjoy the stunning landscapes while walking through breathtaking forests filled with wildlife, lakes, and mountains!

This is just a tiny taste of what Colorado has to offer during the fall. If you’re looking for a vacation with magnificent colors and picturesque views, then look no further than Colorado.

Plan Your Trip

  • Know before going: Check all regulations and rules if you plan to hike or bike in any of the parks listed above. This is very important as it will ensure your safety while enjoying their beautiful sights and sounds.
  • Weather: Weather can be unstable during this time, so bring an umbrella, rain gear, and extra layers. Colorado’s fall weather is usually unpredictable, so be prepared for anything the weather might throw your way.
  • Bring cash: This may seem obvious, but there are some spots where you will only have cash access.
  • Make a list: Plan where you want to go and pack accordingly. If you plan to hike, bring a good pair of hiking boots, do not attempt the more challenging trails in sandals or thongs. Also, bring a water bottle or canteen, if you plan to hike a long way.
  • Bring a GPS or Map: Make sure you have a map handy if your phone dies, so you know where to go and how to get back. Because cell service is limited in these areas, bring a compass.
  • Bring binoculars: If you plan to bird watch, bring a pair of binoculars. You may be able to see and hear more from far away than if you were standing there looking.
  • Consider dogs: Dogs are allowed at some trails but not all, so check first before bringing along your furry friends.
  • Check the website: Many parks have their own websites with information on weather, directions, regulations, and trails. It’s always a good idea to check before you go.
  • Pack a lunch: The cool, dry weather and high altitudes can wear you down quickly. Especially if your body is accustomed to sea level. It’s always a good idea to bring extra food and water with you.
  • Get out and explore: It’s easy to enjoy the beautiful surroundings by relaxing on a picnic table or spending time soaking in nature. However, if you’d like to venture off the beaten path, try hiking some of Colorado’s mountains or biking around the parks. There are tons of trails and roads for bikers and hikers to explore and enjoy.
  • Stay Safe: Be cautious and stay on the trails. Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings, avoid slippery rocks and tree roots. If you are tired, stop for a break or turn around- it’s better to come home safe than injured because of fatigue!

If you’re looking for a new adventure, consider going to Colorado this Fall. Many places will be beautifully decorated with nature’s most beautiful creations! 

For those who live in another state, you’re not going to have to go too far out of your way. Check out our Fall Foliage Drives guide for fabulous destinations that are a quick and easy drive away from your home.