We have a confession to make… We’re season-biased. Don’t tell spring, but fall is by far our favorite season. Between the vivid fall colors, the harvest festivals, the bright plump pumpkins, and the haunted houses that we like to pretend we’re not scared of, fall in Colorado is loaded with things to do.
So, as Colorado natives (or from the category of residents that got here as fast as we could,) we decided to make a list of our favorite fall locations here in Colorado. Colorful mountaintops, ghost towns, haunted houses, and scenic drives make up this list of the 7 best fall destinations in Colorado.
Maroon Bells (Aspen, CO)
Maroon Bells is also known as “the most photographed mountains in America” for a reason — they are incredibly beautiful. Not only is this glacial valley home to two stunning mountains that are drenched in foliage, a crystal clear lake — aptly named Maroon Lake — is nestled between them.
When fall time comes around, the foliage turns bright and vivid which is magnified by that clear blue water. It’s double the colors! If you come before 8 a.m., you can drive your car up to the trailhead and get a good spot. If you arrive later than that, you’re probably going to have to take the bus. Which, isn’t a bad thing, because the bus ride is filled with fall foliage.
Maroon Bells is a color-blasted Colorado fall favorite for a reason, it’s probably the most beautiful spot in the world to view those fall colors. It’s also a budget-friendly option — the $5 bus ride is the price of a cheap burger.
Castle Creek Road (Aspen, CO)
Castle Creek Road is the same road you’re going to be taking out of Aspen to go to Maroon Bells. If you continue on the road, you’re going to be going through the deep foliage with fall-blasted mountains painting the backdrop. When you first start traveling down Castle Creek Road, you’re going to be on stunning private land, but, as you get a little deeper, you’ll hit the National Forest (which you can camp at for like 2 weeks legally.)
The National Forest area is popular for hikers and campers, but that’s not what we’re after here. Oh no, we’re after ghosts. If you continue down Castle Creek Road, and your eyes are done adjusting to the crisp colors, you’ll arrive in Ashcroft ghost town.
Ashcroft used to be a silver mining town, but, by the 40s, had died off entirely. Bonus: In the late 1950s, the popular T.V. show Sgt. Preston of the Yukon was actually set in Ashcroft using a Canadian backdrop.
Today, it stands as a few abandoned buildings (including a Saloon of course) nestled in the quiet tree-littered mountains. Ghosts plus fall colors… sign us up!
The Million Dollar Highway (Colorado)
The million dollar highway is no ordinary road. This stretch of highway is around 25 miles, and it goes from Silverton, CO to Ouray, CO. Now, we want to give out a warning here. The million dollar highway gets a little crazy. There aren’t any guardrails or blockers to stop you from flying off the road, and the highway itself twists and turns up and down Coal Bank Pass, Red Mountain Pass, and Molas Pass (all of which are around 10,500 feet up.)
Sure, it’s a little adventurous, but trust us when we say that the trip is worth it. The entire trip you will be surrounded by fall colors. This part of western Colorado is mostly untouched, and there is a ton of nature to absorb on the trip.
This is perfect for those that are looking to kick back, turn on the heater/AC and blast some tunes while they enjoy beautiful fall scenery.
Kebler Pass (Paonia State Park near Crested Butte, CO)
Fall is all about the trees. Shades of yellow, green, red, and orange make up traditional fall colors, and the trees give them all to us. So, if you want to see some fall trees, look no further than Kebler Pass. The Kebler mountain pass is located on the Southern end of Paonia State Park, and it happens to be one of the largest Aspen groves in the world!
Not only is it home to one of the largest populations of the single most beautiful fall tree, but it’s also home to some great wildlife like elk and deer.
After your done gazing into the beauty of Colorado aspen trees, you can head to Crested Butte, which is right near Kebler Pass. Crested Butte not only has some amazing dining options, fantastic entertainment, and some cozy places to stay, it’s also home to another great scenic fall destination — Mt. Crested Butte.
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
The Peak to Peak byway is some 50 miles long, and it’s littered with bright fall aspens. This route goes through different areas that used to be mining towns, but have long since faded away. Local prospectors still head out here on the weekend to pan for gold flakes.
In fact, children can still go panning in some areas around the byway (look for the signs) for a small price. This is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway, and it is literally golden during the fall.
The aspens around this byway get bright during the fall, and there are some cool ghost towns and beautiful old houses along the way.
Capitol Creek Trail
If you’re in the hiking mood, Capitol Creek Trail is a great way to get up close to the wild beauty of Colorado’s fall-time foliage. You will walk past pristine trees and dense leafy areas.
Clear rivers are running throughout the hiking trail, and the entire trail sits under Capital Peak — a stunning mountaintop. You may find cows, deer, and elk at various parts of the trail, so make sure that you bring your camera.
Note: Dogs are allowed to come with you, but they have to be leashed. Also, children may find this trail daunting (there are lots of ups and downs.)
13th Floor Haunted House (Denver, CO)
Ok, we’re going to go ahead and admit something. The 13th Floor Haunted House scares us half to death. This isn’t your typical haunted house, and we are throwing up big warning signs for those of you who are weak in the boots like us.
13th Floor Haunted House is a product of the Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, who have masterfully tapped into what fuels haunted houses — imagination. Half Alive, Trick or Treat, and The Possession, all tap into different genres of horror to deliver spectacularly delivered and masterfully crafted horror scenes.
Whether you are walking among the broken and abandoned bio lab filled with fish-monsters (way scarier than it sounds) or you’re trying to escape from a crazed and possessed nun, 13th Floor is a go-to destination for those that are looking to get a little scare our of their fall season.
Note: This isn’t a Halloween-only haunted house. It’s open nearly every day in September, October, and November.
Bonus One-Time Event: Punkin Chunkin Colorado (Aurora, CO)
Get ready to say “Oh my gourd!” because Punkin Chunkin is one of the most fun and most unique Colorado festivals around.
So, what in the world is a Punkin Chunkin festival? Well, imagine someone stuck pumpkins into a cannon and launched them hundreds of feet in the air. Wait no! Imagine someone launched pumpkins out of a giant sling. Wait even better! Imagine someone launched pumpkins into the air using cannons and slings while vendors sat by, kids played in a giant pumpkin patch, and classic Corvettes were all around! Well, that’s the Punkin Chunkin festival in Aurora.
Punkin Chunkin is fun for all ages and a unique experience that everyone in Colorado should attend at least once.
The event takes place Saturday, October 6th and 7th from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.