The Best Drives For Fall Colors
Fall is here, and fall colors aren’t far behind! You can find beautiful scenery just about everywhere in this state, but the roads listed below are some of the best to see the bright yellows and oranges of autumn!
- San Juan Skyway – The San Juan Skyway is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the country. This 232 mile loop will take you through two National Forests, four mountain passes, and nine historic Colorado mountain towns. It takes roughly 7 hours to drive the loop all the way through, but we recommend taking your time and exploring along the way! Even if you choose to tackle just one section of the loop, you are sure to find large swathes of fall colors and beautiful scenery. Most of this drive is 2wd-friendly, but some parts may require higher clearance. If you are scared of heights, be warned there are some steep drop-offs as well as sections of road without guardrails in several spots on this drive.
- Boreas Pass – Boreas Pass Road stretches the 20 miles between Como and Breckenridge. This easily-accessible mountain road reaches 11,493 feet above sea level and eventually crosses the Continental Divide! This wonderful road has less traffic than others during the fall, making it a great area to see the colors change without crowds. The aspens on this road may form a tunnel in certain spots, making for a truly amazing view. This road is easily accessible by 2wd vehicles with low ground clearance.
- Kebler Pass – Kebler Pass is an awesome high-mountain pass connecting Crested Butte with Paonia to the West. This pass reaches 10,007 feet above sea level at it’s summit in the Gunnison National Forest. This drive takes you through one of the largest aspen groves in the United States, in the West Elk Mountains. You will travel West from Crested Butte to Highway 133, just north of the tiny mining village of Somerset. The road is accessible by low-clearance 2wd vehicles and takes roughly 2 hours to drive through. It is open seasonally, May through November.
- Trail Ridge Road – Trail Ridge Road is a stretch of US Hwy 34 that takes you from the East side of Estes Park to Grand Lake, CO in the West. It is the highest paved through road in Colorado, peaking at 12,183 feet above sea level. 11 miles of this road are above the tree line, making for great, almost aerial views of the autumn colors below. Driving straight through takes roughly 2 hours, but there are enough pull-outs, scenic overlooks, and side trails to make this drive a full daytrip!
- Last Dollar Road – Last Dollar Road is an unpaved, seasonal (Summer & Fall) route that takes you from Ridgeway, CO to Telluride, CO. This trail gives you fully unobstructed views of Wilson Peak and the Sneffels Mountain Range. The fall colors will really start to show around mid-September, making Last Dollar Road a great destination for photographers.
- Independence Pass – Independence Pass, the highest paved pass in the United States, passes over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen. This pass is 32 miles long and summits at 12,095 feet above sea level. There are many places to stop and take in the views along this road. Roaring Fork River hugs the road for several miles and there are also several great aspen grove views along the way.
- Alpine Loop – Alpine Loop is a circular route that takes you over Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass. It connects Lake City with Ouray and Silverton. The loop is 65 miles long and can be completed in as little as 7 hours. There are several abandoned mining and old west features along the trail that you can explore; they make for interesting foregrounds in your fall color photos!
- Pikes Peak Highway – Pikes Peak Highway is 19 miles each way and takes about 2 hours round trip to drive. Once to the top, you are greeted with 360 degree views of the mountains, including the front range. Pikes Peak highway is a great place for large panoramas of the changing fall colors!
- Bachelor Loop Tour – The Bachelor Loop Tour is a 17 mile loop that takes you through the historic mining district above Creede, CO. This 4wd-accessible road takes you through several ghost towns from the mining boom, some of which once rivaled Creede in size! There are many photo opportunities along this loop so be sure to bring your camera. High clearance vehicles are recommended for the best experience.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of places to see the Fall colors Colorado is so known for. If you are wanting to plan a trip, but can’t decide when, the Forest Service has a regularly updated Fall Color Report that tells you what stage the leaves are at! If all this talk about Colorado has made you want a home of your own here, you can view our featured listings or give us a call at (970) 507-8655!