It’s that time of year again when the temps get a bit cooler, and the changing leaves get a bit hotter! Every season up here offers its own unique beauty, but the changing of the aspens is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring experiences you and your family can have together. We love how easily the vibrant trees lend themselves to beautiful photos and fond memories. That’s why we’ve hand-picked a list of our favorite scenic drives and destinations to watch this incredible phenomenon. Grab a latte and your camera, and hit the road. You’re in for an amazing day of leaf-watching! Check out our list of the top seven spots to get out and explore to enjoy the changing of the seasons.
1. Meadow Creek Reservoir (Map)
Driving above Devil’s Thumb gets you to this serene reservoir, surrounded by trees and wildlife. Picnic areas at this spot include fire pits, so you can make s’mores and hot chocolate while you relax and watch the leaves.
2. Devil’s Thumb (Map)
This luxury ranch resides in nearby Tabernash and welcomes visits from outside guests. It’s a great day destination to enjoy a hikes through the aspen glades, take a horseback ride in high country, or enjoy a sunset beer on the Heck’s patio and watch the alpenglow hit the trees on the mountains.
3. Snow Mountain Ranch (Map)
The YMCA/Snow Mountain Ranch is just a short drive from Winter Park, nestled alongside Highway 40 in Granby. The ranch itself is a beautiful place to hang out, but it’s also the start to a number of hiking trails to get up close and personal with nature. Our personal fall favorite is to take a stroll along the waterfall trail.
4. Columbine Lake Trail (Map)
This fantastic and well-maintained hike takes you through the Indian Peaks wilderness. It’s a moderate hike and will require a couple of hours of your time. A gradual incline with a few scrambles along the way will be rewarded with striking, high alpine views.
5. Trail Ridge (Map)
Trail Ridge Road is the name for Highway 34, which traverses Rocky Mountain National Park, a picturesque setting to not only see the leaves, but for an incredible wildlife experience during the yearly Elk Rut. (More info on the elk rut here!)
6. Cottonwood Pass (Map)
A short drive from Hot Sulphur Springs, this is one of those routes you won’t soon forget. Deemed by many a “mountain wonderland,” this is the epitome of nature’s idyllic beauty and a wonderful driving route for those less mobile.
7. Monarch Lake (Map)
The drive to the trailhead of Monarch Lake is incredibly scenic, running alongside the water through Grand Lake. You’ll love the feel of this well-maintained trail, with superb views of the trees changing all around you.