It is that time of year again, when the air gets a definite chill and dreams of coffee, scarves, and the holidays start coming to life. For me here in Colorado, nothing completes the seasonal shift more than the explosion of brilliant crimson and gold that takes place up in the hills as the aspens change for fall.
Aspen groves populate the hills and clusters can be seen scattered between the dark, lofty pines in the Rockies. Generally, it is suggested that mid September through October is the time to catch them at their most brilliant, when their shimmering leaves begin to don the golden hues of autumn. They are not hard to find, so pack up the car and get up into the hills this weekend!
Aspens front and center:
There are many popular drives and destinations for seeing the aspens.
The Marroon Bells, for example, are stunning—and consequentially very popular. Make this a bucket list item that might need to wait a year, and even then be prepared for crowds of gawkers. With the government shut down this season, access to this particular Aspen outlet is restricted to bicyclists and pedestrians. In a regular season, access is granted via shuttle bus trips.
Other popular drives include the Peak to Peak pass, taking you from Blackhawk to Estes , Guanella Pass that will drop you down into historic Georgetown, and the McClure and Kebler Passes. These routes will offer ridgeline viewing and vistas.
Aspens off the beaten path:
If you are like me and looking for an aspen experience that isn’t quite so crowded or “drive by,” then try a four wheeling adventure on some of Colorado’s exciting country roads. This viewing method leads you not to grand Aspen vistas, but straight into the heart of the groves themselves, getting you up close and personal with the gilded scenery. It is both exciting and breath taking, and definitly my own favorite way to see the aspens.
Check out Chaffee County, south on Highway 285/24 and exit to any of the county roads (CR). These will take you away from the main roads and up into the hills. CR 184, to CR 185, and on south to CR 175 will lead south through Aspen Ridge and down to Salida. AAA Colorado recommended Chaffee County as a top aspen viewing location and it is totally worth it. For an idea of what you will in for, check out this youtube link for Chaffee County Road 344.
Check out more routes and destinations for aspen viewing here at TheDenverChannel.com.
Don't miss out on the season's best fall attribute; go for the gold before it's too late!