If, like me, you're itching to see some gorgeous fall colors, then you're in luck: We've got all the info you need for your annual fall foliage pilgrimage in Colorado!Hitting that sweet spot for seeing the changing of the aspens can be tricky business. Being just one week too early or one week too late can mean all the difference between an "average" beautiful mountain drive and a truly glorious mountain drive. We've put together a list of our favorite treks to see fall colors that are within a couple hours of Denver and can easily be done within a day or less! In a normal autumn season, the fall colors should peak in the northern Colorado mountains (Poudre Canyon and Steamboat Springs area) Sep. 15–25. The state's central mountains will peak the last week of September, with the southern mountains (south of I-70) being the brightest during the first week in October. Take a look at our top picks for stress-free drives close to Denver, and then plan your timing and route carefully!
Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="22718,22713"] Made up of Highways 7, 72, and 119, this 55-mile-long route is located less than an hour away from the Denver metro area and Fort Collins. Depending on how much time you have, there are multiple places you can start and end this gorgeous loop. Regardless, the flaming gold pockets peppering the scenery are sure to leave you breathless.
Kenosha Pass[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="22719,22716"] Head up U.S. 285 toward Kenosha Pass for some of the most beautiful aspen groves you've ever seen. This one's a favorite among Coloradans because changing aspens can be seen on both sides of the pass, and there are tons of great places to stop and hike, if you like!
Poudre Canyon and Cameron Pass[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="22720,22714"] The drive on Colorado 14, west of Fort Collins, is a 90-mile trek that really starts getting gorgeous about 35 miles in. Enjoy the sights along the river, over the pass, and all the way to Walden for an unforgettable iconic journey. The aspens are most impressive between Rustic and Gould.
Squaw Pass[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="22721,22715"] To complete the Colorado 103 loop, begin in either Evergreen or Idaho Springs, and just soak up the breathtaking scenic views along Echo Lake and Mount Evans. This one is close enough to the metro area that you could complete the entire round trip in about two and a half hours.
Guanella Pass[gallery columns="2" size="large" ids="22723,22717"] The drive through Guanella Pass starts off of I-70 in Georgetown and takes you south on Guanella Pass Road to the town of Grant, which lies along U.S. 285. This popular route is 23 miles long, with about 12 of those miles unpaved, but the vivid autumn colors will be well worth it -- especially when you catch glimpses of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt in the distance. This one's a favorite among photographers!
What's your favorite place to view the fall colors in Colorado? We'd love to hear your recommendations below!