Best Colorado Drives - Fall Leaves and Colors

10 Scenic Fall Drives that Showcase the Best of Colorful Colorado

10 Scenic Fall Drives that Showcase the Best of Colorful Colorado

Best Colorado Fall Drives - Independence Pass

Independence Pass - Between Twin Lakes and Aspen provides the most vibrant hues during the Colorado fall. 

Fill up the gas tank, pack a picnic lunch and set out on a golden fall adventure to see the leaves 

September 1, 2023 - Rankin Goulder & Kissinger

The onset of fall is marked by football, the aroma of pumpkin spice, and a welcomed drop in temperatures. For Coloradans, nothing indicates fall like the hillsides bursting with the changing colors of autumn. Warm golden yellows, oranges and burgundies fill mountain ranges and hillsides in every corner of our beautiful state. Whether you live downtown or in the mountains there is a scenic drive that will fill a fall weekend with awe and appreciation for Colorado’s colors. 

1. Trail Ridge Road - Estes Park to Grand Lake

Trail Ridge Road stands out as one of the prime locations for experiencing the vibrant autumn foliage within Rocky Mountain National Park. The road gracefully navigates through awe-inspiring vistas, offering numerous vantage points overlooking alpine meadows adorned in shades of yellow, orange, and red, stretching as far as the eye can behold. It's important to be aware that due to snowfall, the road's closure might occur earlier than anticipated during the fall season.

2. Buffalo Pass - Steamboat to Walden

Numerous locations offer captivating displays of autumnal beauty across Colorado, yet one destination stands out as an absolute must-visit. Buffalo Pass, situated near Steamboat Springs, commands attention when it comes to relishing Colorado's fall foliage. Nestled within the embrace of the Routt National Forest, Buffalo Pass presents a breathtaking spectacle as it unveils the astonishing transformation of fall colors. With an elevation surpassing 10,000 feet, the pass treats you to a spellbinding panorama of the surrounding countryside.

Flat Tops Trail - Yampa to Meeker

Embark on a memorable journey to Meeker this autumn, where a captivating blend of wildlife encounters and fall foliage awaits you along the scenic marvel of the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway. Wherever your gaze lands, a forested rainbow will greet you, showcasing an array of distinctive reds, oranges, greens, and, of course, the coveted gold. Pause for respite at the Ripple Creek Pass Overlook, where you'll find informative signs, picnic spots, and restroom facilities.

4. Independence Pass - Twin Lakes to Aspen

While this expedition leans heavily toward photography and immersing oneself in Colorado's fall scenery, it also offers numerous opportunities for hiking. The starting point for this drive can essentially be chosen from any location within the general vicinity. If commencing from Colorado's Front Range area, follow I-70 and take the exit toward Twin Lakes near Copper. The stretch from Twin Lakes and over the pass is a visual spectacle, with the period from mid-September through the first week of October showcasing unparalleled beauty.

Colorado fall colors Kebler pass

Kebler Pass is a home to Colorado's largest Aspen grove, making this drive a favorite of all. The pass takes you from Crested Butte to Paonia all while immersing you in a whirl of immense color. 

5. Kebler Pass -Created Butte to Paonia

The exceptional allure of the fall colors along Kebler Pass can be attributed in part to the presence of Colorado's largest aspen grove, an extraordinary site that harbors what some scientists deem the world's most expansive living entity. Nestled within the expanse of the Gunnison National Forest, this awe-inspiring grove lies between Crested Butte and Paonia.

6. San Juan Skyway - Durango to Telluride

The San Juan Skyway, a scenic and historically rich byway spanning 236 miles, presents an unmissable opportunity to bask in the splendor of autumn foliage during the coveted fall gold rush. Opt for a leisurely exploration of the loop, dividing your journey into sections spread across a couple of days. As you traverse this picturesque route, be sure to make captivating stops at various points. Pause at the summit of Molas Pass, where captivating vistas await, and continue your journey to the heart of downtown Telluride.

7. Grand Mesa Byway - Mesa to Cedaredge

Grand Mesa stands as an exceptional autumn destination, where vast woodlands of resplendent aspen trees create a mesmerizing backdrop that envelops serene lakes and offers breathtaking panoramas. Despite being counted among the world's largest flat-top mountains, Grand Mesa attracts notably fewer visitors compared to other renowned areas within Colorado. Located just an hour away, the locals of Grand Junction find themselves drawn to this region due to its abundant opportunities for fishing, camping, and off-roading. 

Guanella pass Colorado fall drives

Guanella Pass becomes a canvas of autumn hues during its scenic one-hour drive from I-70 to US 285. Not up for a drive? Check out the Georgetown Railroad Loop (photo below) for a daily train departures, make sure to bring your camera too. 

8. Highway of Legends - Walsenburg to Trinidad

State Highway 12, known as the Scenic Highway of Legends, intricately weaves together the charming towns of Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara, Stonewall, Trinidad, and Aguilar. This stretch of asphalt guides travelers through an awe-inspiring passage, where they traverse across some of the United States' most captivating national forests, state parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and majestic mountain ranges.

9. Squaw Pass - Evergreen to Idaho Springs

Squaw Pass, a lofty mountain road nestled within Clear Creek County, lies within a brief hour's drive from Denver. Positioned at an elevation of 9,790 feet this pass is enveloped by the scenic embrace of the Arapaho National Forest. Stretching across a distance of 30 miles, the road commences its journey in Evergreen and culminates in Idaho Springs. The splendid spectacle of autumnal foliage graces Squaw Pass from the middle of September to the latter part of the month. This route, also designated as CO 103 highway, remains navigable year-round. However, it's noteworthy that the nearby Mount Evans Byway, renowned for its scenic vistas, concludes its seasonal operations in October.

10. Guanella Pass - Georgetown to Grant

Guanella Pass becomes a canvas of autumn hues during its scenic one-hour drive from I-70 to US 285. Reaching 11,670 feet, the pass affords panoramic views where the imposing figures of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt grace the distant horizon. Steeped in history, Georgetown offers a wealth of dining options amidst its charming streets. The town also hosts the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a delightful and memorable means of experiencing the surrounding sights.

With so many options to view Colorado in its golden hour, it will be hard to chose just one. Regardless of your choice, you are sure to be overwhelmed by the hues and beauty that only Colorado can provide. 

Georgetown loop Colorado scenic fall drives

The historic Georgetown Railroad Loop offers daily trains to experience all the colors of Colorado without having to be behind the wheel. 

Rankin, Goulder and Kissinger has successfully sold homes in various neighborhoods throughout colorful Colorado, and our team approaches every transaction with a commitment to delivering the highest level of service to our clients. Whether it involves minor decluttering and furniture rearrangement or a complete main floor remodel, we guide our clients throughout the entire process. When we hear clients say, "Why didn't we do this while we were living here? Now we don't want to move!" — that's when we know a home is ready to hit the market.

We’d love the opportunity to show you what we do!

If you are thinking about buying or selling anywhere in the Denver area, reach out to Allison Rankin, Jane Goulder, or Amy Kissinger today!

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If you are thinking about buying or selling anywhere in the Denver area, reach out to Allison Rankin, Jane Goulder, or Amy Kissinger at Whether you are a first-time buyer, an investor or a seasoned buyer looking to upsize or downsize, we have the experience, resources and relationships to help and we would love to help you begin your next chapter in the Denver area!