Fall is here, you can feel it in the air. The mornings are crisp and nights are cool. These are all signs that the summer is over and that winter is just around the corner. These seasonal changes bring one of the most beautiful times in Colorado, the changing color of the aspen leaves.
Every year in fall as the weather turns cooler, the aspen in the Colorado Rocky Mountains begin to turn colors before they lose their leaves. Many trees’ leaves turn yellow and fall off. The leaves of the aspen tree, however, can turn different shades of brilliant colors. They can be from the bright yellow, orange, red and even purple. Massive groves of aspen turn colors at the same time, turning an entire mountainside into a brilliant flare of color and beauty. The contrast of these huge groves of aspen against the surrounding dark green pine forests is truly amazing.
Aspen change at different times depending on their altitude and the weather in the region. Aspen enthusiasts will actually follow the turning of the aspen from high altitude down to the lower altitude and the small areas on the plains that have aspen trees to enjoy.
The aspen have already begun turning in the Colorado high country, but you are not out of time yet. With the mild fall we are enjoying this year, the aspen should change slowly over the next few weeks.
Whether you like camping or just like pretty scenery, this is a great time to head up to the mountains to enjoy the changing of the aspen leaves. Make sure to take your camera and extra batteries so you can take plenty of pictures. You will find it difficult to put your camera down during this trip!
This is a great time to pull out a backpack and go hiking on one of the thousands of popular trails through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Make sure to take everything you may need for the trip and be sure know your trail. Hiking amongst the trees is one of the best ways to enjoy the turning of the aspen leaves. It is cool in the mountains, making it great for hiking. Hiking through these beautiful aspen groves is much more majestic then seeing them from the side of the highway. If nothing else, pack a lunch and enjoy some great outdoor time.
There are many great places to go see the changing of the aspen but a few of the favorites are listed below.
Head west up the Poudre Canyon just north of Fort Collins. This area is close and well-traveled for residents of northern Colorado. It also offers many great rest areas and picnic areas. There are plenty of day use spots all along the river.
One of the prime locations in central Colorado to see the changing of the leaves is up I-70 to Georgetown. There is a great view of the aspen here and is nationally acclaimed as one of the best places to view this seasonal event. Make the experience complete by riding the vintage Georgetown train around the valley.
Heading west out of Colorado Springs on Highway 24 will take you into Pike National Forest. Here is a great place for southern Colorado residents to enjoy the brilliant colors. If you want an amazing view, head up Pikes Peak to view a huge expanse of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in all their natural beauty.
South Western Colorado
One of my personal favorite places to see the aspen change is in the extreme south western part of Colorado near Telluride. If you are lucky enough to be in the area at this time of year, the changing of the aspen is truly breathtaking.
No matter where you are in Colorado this time of year, I would suggest planning a trip to enjoy the aspen. It is important to go out and appreciate the out of doors and all that nature has to offer. I think we often take it for granted. The changing of the season reminds us all how beautiful and important our natural world is and how we need to protect it. You don’t have to be an outdoor person or a camper to enjoy this. However, if you are a camper, get out there and spend some time camping during this time. This is my favorite time to camp in Colorado. The weather is cool, the crowds are gone and the mountains of this great state are at their most beautiful.