colorado fall foliage. when and where?

Old Aug 26th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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colorado fall foliage. when and where?

we want to see some fall foliage in colorado near the end of sept. also, if possible, combine with a car-ride to rocky mt national park. which town or towns should we base ourselves in for the foliage? how long does "peak" (or near peak) last?
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Old Aug 26th, 2010, 02:22 PM
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In general......

color change begins first in the higher elevations starting about the first full week of September (and peaking around the last week of Sept), and then moves down to the lower elevations like Denver & Boulder starting about the last week of Sept (peaking about the middle of October. By the middle of October the trees are bare in the mountains. By the beginning of November it is done in Denver & Boulder.

That being said, there are several things that impact the extent and timing of the color change......

- color change generally occurs in the northern part of the state before it does in the southern part.

- weather can affect the extent & vibrancy of color in a particular area (i.e. a hard freeze, heavy early snowfall, or several days of windy or rainy conditions can blunt the color).

- isolated areas that experienced much less moisture during the year will be less colorful than surrounding areas that received normal or excessive rainfall.


If you want to stay in the mountains, there are the towns of Nederland and Estes Park - both near Rocky Mountain National Park, and the highway between the two should be ablaze with color at that time. If you want to (or need to) stay down-mountain, there is Boulder, Loveland, or Fort Collins. The color in those three towns will just be on the verge of beginning, but short drives up into the mountains through Boulder Canyon, Big Thompson Canyon, or along the Poudre River respectively will bring you into areas of increasing coloration.
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Old Aug 26th, 2010, 02:27 PM
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We like the Telluride-Ouray-Silverton area of the San Juans the 3rd and 4th weeks of Sept. The towns are very different, there are numerous high passes so you see the aspens at various elevations and they peak at slightly different times, depending on elevation and which direction they are facing.

Crested Butte is also good that time but not quite as varied as T-O-S.

Aspen is usually great a week or so earlier than T-O-S area and the view of the Maroon Bells with the lake in front is a classic, but Aspen doesn't seem to have as many other areas nearby and it's more expensive, crowded and chi-chi than the other areas we've visited.

Haven't visited the other areas of the state as much, I'm sure some of the Denver-area Fodorites can offer good advice on Rocky Mt. NP area and maybe Vail and Steamboat.
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Old Aug 28th, 2010, 06:59 PM
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wow! great answers! thank you, both. our challenge is that we can't get to colorado before 9/25ish. so maybe the lower elevations, "t-o-s", and/or the southern part of the state. thanks, again. now i can research some towns.............
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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Don't know what your expectations are but depending on where you come from the fall color can be disappointing. And the color, mostly yellow, can go very quickly with a couple of storms. Late September will be marginal. There are tress in my neighborhood that are already starting to turn.
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 09:12 AM
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Telluride - Ouray, Silverton, Durango and Mesa Verde in SW Coloardo will be nice around the time you plan.

fmp is spot on re: colors. If you are from Northeast and are used to Vermont type colors, it just doesn't happen here. It is very nice to see our leaves change, but it is the bright sunny days with mild temps and beautiful blue skies with cool evenings perfect for a fire that makes fall so special here.

If you want to go to SW Colorado, you can fly into Durango but it is very expensive. Albuquerque is a 3 hour drive to Durango and Southwest might have some good fares.

Be sure to drive the Million Dollar Highway if you come this way.

Check out this link and my post on it [with several links to great articles about the area].

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...suggestion.cfm
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 10:47 AM
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We came from Indiana and large hard wood forest with a rainbow range of colors that lasted all Fall. The vast sea of yellow Aspens against the blue sky and green pines is magnificent but it never changes and lasts about three days. But what follows is the best part.
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Old Sep 5th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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We just spent a couple days in Vail. On the way back over Vail pass and into the Frisco area, there are pockets of yellow. The change has started.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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I am in Winter Park this week. The aspens are just barely, barely beginning to turn. Maybe 5% changing.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 01:42 PM
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We go from Evergreen (I think it is CR 103) up to Echo Lake; which is on the way to Mt. Evans. Then you can drive on to Idaho Springs, then up to Georgetown on I-70 and you can drive over Ganella Pass (spelling is wrong). part of the pass is gravel road though.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 04:19 AM
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A recent article in the Denver Post indicated that Guanella Pass from Georgetown is closely indefinitely. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15934442
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Old Sep 13th, 2010, 10:32 AM
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We walked the Fraser River Trail yesterday, near the base of Winter Park ski area. Fall color is definitely kicking in, especially the river bushes and willows. Some are turning pretty reds.

The aspen are just starting at that elevation in Winter Park. We will return next weekend, so I can update you then.

I saw on the news that a lot of the eastern states will not have much color this fall because of their drought. They said the leaves pretty much just turn grey and fall off when trees are so dry. That's a shame.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 08:09 AM
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I am in Winter Park and the aspen leaves are at least 50% of peak. Some are completely bright yellow, some are just starting to change. Looks like it will go quickly this week.

Seeing swaths of yellow on the mountainside: priceless!
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