Mother Nature has been hard on Colorado this fall. The floods this year ravaged many of our beautiful mountain communities. But in spite of all the damage to what man created, nature always puts on colorful show every fall in Colorado.
This year brings a few challenges thanks to all the road damage caused by the flood. You may have to drive a little longer or try a new destination to hunt for Colorado gold. Authorities are asking that those wanting to see the aspens avoid the roads in the canyons of Boulder and Larimer Counties.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan featured a great article that illustrated many of the best places to see aspen color. We reviewed the list and thought it was worth sharing with our readers. Here are there recommendations for 2013:
- Kebler Pass: West of Crested Butte on Gunnison County Road 12, this 30-mile gravel road is considered by many to be the supreme color drive in the state, in part because it boasts one of the largest aspen groves in the world. The road provides quite the show, especially if you have a sunroof. Travel to the east, just below the 10,007-foot Kebler Pass summit on Ohio Pass to Gunnison for a solid one-two punch.
- McClure Pass: This 8,763-foot pass south of Carbondale along Colorado 133 and the Crystal River offers spectacular views of Ragged Peak and Chair Mountain, and the colors of the aspens and cottonwoods pop. Check out the iconic Crystal Mill.
- Maroon Bells: Be prepared to jostle for position with other sightseers as Maroon Creek Road, just southwest of Aspen, is one of the most photographed areas in Colorado. For good reason. The 14,000-foot Maroon Bells are stunning. Add a trip over Independence Pass east of Aspen to maximize the area’s beautiful country.
- Cottonwood Pass: Colorado Highway 306 from Buena Vista to Taylor Park takes you over 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass to outstanding views of aspen, as well as multiple fourteeners.
- Boreas Pass: This 23-mile road cresting at the 11,481-foot pass runs south from Breckenridge to Como and is a stunner both for aspen and views of the Tenmile Range.
- Lizard Head Pass: Telluride in the fall is awesome, and this drive on Colorado Highway 145 between Telluride and Dolores is stunning. Dallas Divide is supreme photography real estate and some of the best real estate in the West; Ralph Lauren owns property in the area. In Telluride, you can take a free gondola ride from downtown to Mountain Village, giving you the chance to literally ride above the tops of the aspens.
- Grand Mesa: It’s the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, and Grand Mesa is bisected by 63 miles of Colorado Highway 65 from Cedaredge to Interstate 70 and loaded with aspen. Powderhorn ski area has a sweet mix of reddish Gambel oak and golden aspen.
- Owl Creek Pass: Ouray County Road 10 is a quiet backcountry road located 26 miles south of Montrose on U.S. 550 that follows the Little Cimarron River through beautiful ranch land country. Enjoy the views of the San Juan’s Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn peaks. Continue on U.S. 550 to the Million Dollar Highway.
- Buffalo Pass: This dirt road just west of Steamboat Springs is lined with rows of glowing aspen groves. The pass winds 8 miles up toward the Continental Divide and Summit Lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding foliage. Locals recommend a hike on the 6.1-mile Three Island Lake Trail, which takes hikers through coniferous forests and high meadows and past glacial lakes and vistas.
- La Veta Pass: Peaking at an altitude of more than 9,400 feet, La Veta Pass on U.S. 160 in southern Colorado is one of the most scenic drives in the state during the fall season. Gold aspen trees mixed with dark green pines line the pass, while the magnificent Spanish Peaks and Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower over the foliage of the San Luis Valley.