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5 Fall Road Trips around Boulder

Nothing screams fall like 90 degree game days, right? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a typical September not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day in Boulder as much as the next girl, but it’s doesn’t feel like October is around the corner.  

Luckily, if you’re craving fall, you don’t have to travel far outside of Boulder. Traveling to an increased elevation practically transports you to another season. If you have never witnessed fall in Colorado, you’re in for a real treat. Our state is home to over five million acres of beautiful aspen trees. These trees are known for their transformation from lush green to vibrant reds, oranges, and golds. 

While Boulder might not be quite into the swing of fall, a majority of the state has embraced the season. The peak season for viewing the trees changing colors is early this year starting this week and lasting through the middle of October. 

Below I have compiled five hotspots across Colorado in which fall is in full swing and where you can view the changing colors in their peak. Whether you want to take a weekend getaway, a day trip, or have an hour or two to spare, you will be able to experience a little bit of fall. In a state with unpredictable weather, you never know when fall will be cut short by the first snowfall. So grab a hoodie, a hot drink, and some good music for your road trip to fall paradise. 

This 55-mile-long route will have you so focused on the scenery you’ll forget you don’t have service. The mountain skyline is lined with golden aspen trees. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see an elk.  The highway that takes you across the continental divide was created in 1918, making it the oldest in Colorado.

Looking for a light hike? Caribou Ranch is home to trails that offer various lengths. Many people suggest taking the Delone Trail and the Bluebird loop for about a 4.2 miles surrounded by colorful aspens. In addition, the trails are home to the cottonwoods, willows, and grassland area. The ranch is located a few miles north of Nederland, an old-timey mountain town that is worth the trip.This “highway to the sky” earned its nickname considering 11 miles of the road are above the treeline. In a matter of minutes, you travel some 4,000 feet. The 38 mile road cuts through the National Park between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake, so make sure you have a national park pass. The high altitude provides cold fall temperatures, however, it is for the reason it’s inability to stay open past mid-October. 

This is a very popular destination in the fall− for good reason. Many believe this to be one of the best areas to see the leaves changing. The miles and miles of red and yellow aspen trees are complemented by contrasting green Ponderosa pines and Douglas fires. If you’re a photographer or just an avid Instagrammer, this will be your heaven.Yes, it’s far away, but it’s more than worth the drive. Thousands make the drive every year to see the scenic backdrop of the 14,000 Maroon Bells covered by yellow aspen trees reflected into Maroon lake. It’s the most photographed place in the state, despite only being open during the summer and the fall. The bells also include hiking trails that get you closer to the base. However, to get the “iconic” photo of the bells, you don’t have to walk far. Note that you only have access to the area by bus until October 4th. Make sure to check out Aspen while you’re there!

Shout out to NPS, Colorado Life Magazine, 5280.com, and Roots Rated for the above information. 

Happy road tripping,


Rudy Joon

CU Boulder '21

Rudy is a sophomore majoring in Strategic Communications with a focus of media design in the College of Media, Communication and Information, and double-minoring in Journalism and Tech, Arts, Media. She is from Saugatuck, Michigan and will always have a place in her heart for Lake Michigan, but equally loves the mountains. Her passion for helping others got her involved as a CMCI ambassador and a writer for Her Campus. Off-campus, you can find her hiking in the Flatirons, eating kale chips or running 5 minutes late.
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