COLORADO LEAF PEEPING ADVENTURES:
Four-Wheel Among the Aspens on the Alpine Loop Scenic & Historic Byway: Travelers equipped with four-wheel drive can head to the Alpine Loop Scenic and Historic Byway, connecting the mountain towns of Ouray, Silverton and Lake City. This rugged route has hiking and mountain biking trails galore, a rich mining history and unfettered views of shimmering aspen leaves and 14,000-foot peaks.
Search for Gold on Breckenridge’s Singletrack: The trails of French Gulch pass through Breckenridge’s “Golden Horseshoe,” one of Colorado’s most fertile mining regions. The initial gold strikes here in 1859 gave birth to the town and, for most of the next century, Breckenridge’s fortunes were largely driven by the Golden Horseshoe’s output. Today, the French Gulch Road area offers a number of singletrack options, several that pass by old mining remains and groves of changing aspens, that make for a beautiful autumn ride or hike.
Soak in the Colors at Glenwood Hot Springs: With high country colors at their showy peak, fall is one of the best seasons to visit Glenwood Hot Springs, the world’s largest hot springs pool. The 130-year-old resort is unveiling a major renovation this year that includes an Adventure River, with fast-moving waters with cascading tiers and boulders, and a new children's play area that’s equipped with mini water slides and a fun splash pad.
Take A Colorful Road Trip Along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway: The 63-mile Grand Mesa Scenic Byway leads travelers to the top of Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world, and into the fall-color-saturated Grand Mesa National Forest. From there, drivers can explore Cedaredge, replete with apple orchards and groves of white ash.
Round Up the Herd at Latigo Ranch: The ultimate dude and guest ranch experience, Latigo Ranch near Kremmling invites visitors to participate in its annual fall cattle roundup. Held the third week in September, participants will help local cattle ranchers gather their herds, bring them home and move them from place to place on their home ranches, all while experiencing the area’s outstanding fall colors.
Hop Aboard the Fall Color Train in Leadville: Train enthusiasts can ride up into the San Isabel National Forest aboard the Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad where the mountains are ablaze with yellow, orange and red. The train departs daily at 1 p.m. on weekdays in the fall and offers photo weekend specials. These three-hour rides allow visitors to experience untouched wilderness in its autumn beauty, the headwaters of the Arkansas River Valley and sweeping vistas of Colorado’s two highest peaks, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive.
Climb to Colorful Heights at the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park: The Royal Gorge Bridge in Cañon City, the highest suspension bridge in America, marks its 90th anniversary this year. To celebrate, the park opened a brand new Via Ferrata climbing experience. All climbs are led by a trained mountain guide who will show participants the breathtaking beauty of the park from new heights.
Take A Wild Hike in State Forest State Park: Located near Walden, State Forest State Park is considered the moose-viewing capital of Colorado with some 600 of Bullwinkle’s buddies roaming free. Fall is prime moose viewing season, and wilderness access is easy for visitors who start at the Moose Visitor Center.
Soar Above the Trees in Steamboat: For travelers who have a hot-air balloon ride on their bucket list, Steamboat is the place and fall is the time of year to do it. Wild West Balloon Adventures will have guests gliding above Steamboat Springs’ color-soaked fall scenery with views of the Flat Top Mountains and Hanh’s Peak, an inactive volcano.
COLORADO’S NOT-TO-MISS FALL EVENTS:
Fall Tarantula Migration on the Comanche National Grassland, La Junta, Sept.-Oct.: Each fall, Colorado’s Arkansas Valley becomes an arachnophobe’s nightmare. During this time, thousands of tarantulas migrate through the area during their mating season. Generally, this peaks sometime in mid-October. The best place to spot this natural phenomenon is on Highway 71, just north of Ordway, as well as on Highway 109, between La Junta and the town of Kim.
ArtoCade, Trinidad, Sept. 13-14: Trinidad’s delightfully quirky ArtoCade will roll through historic downtown in a parade of “artfully enhanced” cars, motorcycles, bikes, trikes, scooters, tractors and golf carts. There’s a lot packed into the two-day festivalincluding an ArtoKids booth for hands-on kiddie fun, a circus-like dance party called Cardango and meet-and-greets with the event’s “cartists.”
Pedal the Plains, Sept. 13-15: Pedal the Plains is more than a bicycle tour; it’s a traveling party packed with boot-stomp’n live music, beer gardens, delicious locally sourced food, interactive educational exhibits and a touch of country fun. The 2019 ride host communities include Holly, Springfield and Lamar.
Snowmass Wine Festival, Snowmass, Sept. 14: A long-standing fall tradition, the Snowmass Wine Festival features a weekend of wine tasting and pairing dinners hosted by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village. Friday evening features a wine pairing dinner, while the Saturday highlight is a three-hour grand tasting event with wines from all over the world.
Historic OHV Tour, Buena Vista, Sept. 17-21: Riders will can experience four days of self-guided tours through the awe-inspiring backcountry of the Collegiate Peaks range with 12 14,000-foot mountains during Buena Vista’s OHV Fall Color Tour, Sept. 17-21, 2019. Participants will immerse themselves in the fall foliage during these self-guided tours and will also explore old mining camps and ghost towns via high mountain passes where gold and silver ore were carried by mule wagons to the railroads.
FORToberfest, Fort Collins, Sept. 21: Fortoberfest, Downtown Fort Collins' last music festival of the summer, features a full day of live music on the Choice Organics stage, seasonal microbrews from Odell and High Country Beverage, wine from Wilbur’s Total Beverage and regional German-themed cuisine.
Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia, Sept. 26-29: Head to Paonia to celebrate this everything-local harvest. From agricultural producers to artists, writers and crafters, this is a true local event. Live music will be playing throughout the four-day event, and there is a Friday night pub crawl. Plus, enjoy all the fall colors along the way to the Western Slope.
Elk Fest, Estes Park, Sept. 29–30: The beautifully haunting bugle of a bull elk is unmistakable, and spectators head to Estes Park every autumn to experience the phenomenon. The elk gather there, at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, to show off for their ladies during the start of the rutting (breeding) season. At Elk Fest, visitors can learn about these beasts’ behavior, observe them in their natural habitat, participate in a bugling contest and see performances by American Indians.
La Veta Oktoberfest, La Veta, Oct. 5: Beer, music and fall foliage all converge during La Veta’s Oktoberfest. This downtown street fair also features a car show, dancing and more than 60 arts and crafts vendors.
Old West Fest, Ridgway, Oct. 11-13: 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of True Grit, the movie that earned John Wayne his only Academy Award and was filmed in Ridgway and Ouray County in 1968. The first annual Ridgway Old West Fest will celebrate Ridgway's brief transformation into Fort Smith, Arkansas half a century ago. Festivities will highlight Ridgway’s film, ranching and railroad heritage and celebrate Western arts and culture.
Dairy Block Fall Flannel Festival, Denver, Oct. 20: Dairy Block and Denver Milk Market will again celebrate the changing of the seasons with the second annual Fall Flannel Festival on Sunday, Oct. 20. This free community event, held in the Alley at Dairy Block, will feature a festive line-up of events for all ages, including face painting and balloon art, live music, games, an urban pumpkin patch, a live pumpkin carving artist and more.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races, Manitou Springs, Oct. 26: The Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade is an annual event held just days before Halloween. The rules are very simple: form a team with one “Emma” in a coffin and four “runners” dressed in the most creative costumes and have them race toward the finish line. It’s an uncanny and crazy spectacle for everybody’s amusement.