2022 Fall Foliage Tracker

The Insider's Guide to Aspen Fall Colors and Foliage - Aspen Signature  Properties

If you follow our Boulder realtor team on Instagram, you might have noticed that Andy has been keeping us updated on how the Aspens are coming along this year with his Boulder Aspen Watch 2022. If you’re looking for some more in-depth reporting, we’ve got you covered….keep reading!

Colorado is known for its Aspen groves. In autumn, their bright yellow leaves create a sharp contrast between the dark pines that blanket Rocky Mountain peaks. Their loss of chlorophyll is our gain— our state is an ideal place to see nature’s paintbrush in action. Drive along scenic byways or hike deep into the Colorado wilderness to take in some of America’s most dramatic landscapes. 
 

When will the leaves start to change this year? (2022)

The short answer is Mid-September to Mid-October. But Denver meteorologist Mike Nelson gives us a specific breakdown:

  • Northern Mountains (Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain National Park): September 20-25 
  • 1-70 Corridor (Denver, Breckenridge, and the White River National Forest): September 22-30 
  • Central Mountains (Colorado Springs, Grand Mesa,  Gunnison National Forest): End of September – Early October 
  • Southern Mountains (Telluride, Ouray, and Durango): Early to mid-October 

 

The best places to view fall foliage (without driving too far from Boulder!). 

 

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

Distance from downtown Boulder: 25 minutes 

From Nederland follow the peak-to-peak highway to Estes Park. This 55-mile stretch of scenic road has plenty to do along the way. Enjoy country stores, historic mountain towns, and unbeatable views. This scenic drive is also a popular bike route for cyclists, though it’s certainly challenging. 

Recommended hike: Ouzel Falls via Wild Basin Trail

We love stopping in Allenspark for a hike. This is technically part of Rocky Mountain National Park, but it’s a much less popular access point to the splendor of RMNP. Our Boulder real estate agents especially love the Ouzel Falls trail. You’ll pass a series of incredible waterfalls rushing creeks and pristine forests. 

Length: 5.0 miles 

Traill Type: Out-and-back 

Trail Map
 

Rocky Mountain National Park 

Distance from downtown Boulder: 50 minutes.

Rocky Mountain National Park is magnificent year-round. But fall is iconic. It’s a photographer’s dream; every vista could be on the front page of National Geographic. Snowfall on the high peaks creates a shocking contrast to yellow, green, and red leaves that blanket the mountains. Fall is also the elk-rutting season. Male elk battle for the attention of females. If you see any rutting activity, admire the display from afar (it’s dangerous to interfere!). But you may hear the elk bugle call from several miles away.

Recommended Scenic Drive: Trail Ridge Road.

This drive twists from Estes Park to Grand Lake. This route is the highest continuous paved road in North America. You’ll be cruising at 11,000 feet for more than 8 miles, before reaching a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet. Gorgeous colors cascade around you in 360-degree views. 

Recommended Hike: Loch Vale

This hike is relatively moderate but will take you through some pristine wilderness. You’ll hike past 30-foot Alberta Falls, and through the Glacier Creek Gorge (which is bursting with Aspen color in the fall). The pinnacle of the hike is Loch Vale, an impressive lake with subalpine vistas.

Distance: 5.4 miles

Trail Type: out-and-back

Trail Map
 

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

 Distance from downtown Boulder: 37 minutes

This park is a great way to enjoy the foliage… while skipping the crowds. It’s undeniably gorgeous. But this park flies under the radar of most tourists visiting Colorado for the fall scenes. This park is bursting with both aspens and cottonwoods, which turn a similar golden color. 

Recommended scenic drive: Mountain Base Highway 

Hop onto Mountain Base Highway at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This road will curve you through the entire Golden Gate Canyon until you connect with State Highway 119, which will lead you into the depths of Arapaho Forest.

Recommended hike: The Raccoon Trail 

A simple, but staggeringly beautiful hike, the raccoon trail will lead you through golden forests. Scenic overlooks are abundant, and hikers will see big views of distant Rocky Mountain peaks.

Distance: 3.4 miles 

Trail type: Loop 

Trail Map
 

Aspen

Distance from downtown Boulder: 3 hours and 40 minutes 

You can’t have an article about fall in Colorado without mentioning Aspen, right? Color soaks the mountains like a tidal wave. It’s one of the most colorful autumn scenes in America. It’s close enough to Boulder for a day trip (especially because the drive is beautiful!) but our Compass Boulder realtor team highly recommends spending a long weekend in this mountain paradise. 

Scenic Drive: Independence Pass 

Drive from Boulder to Aspen via Independence Pass (HWY 82). You’ll cruise through the Continental Divide and pass the scenic ski towns of Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, and Keystone, which will all be electrified with color. 

Recommended Hike: Sunnyside 

It’s difficult to choose only one trail in Aspen, but Sunnyside has to be our Compass agents’pick for a fall favorite. Along this trek, you’ll see views of all four Aspen Snowmass mountains and their surrounding peaks. Aspen groves are abundant next to the meadows, peaks, and creeks you’ll hike past on your journey. 

Distance: 10.8 miles

Trail Type: Out & Back 

Trail Map 
 

Steamboat Springs 

Distance from downtown Boulder: 3 hours and 10 minutes 

How does enjoying fall color while soaking in a hot spring sound? I’m guessing pretty good. Steamboat springs is a resort town, but it’s also an amazing destination for fall foliage. The famous Strawberry Park Hot springs blend nature with relaxation in the best way.

Recommended scenic drive: Buffalo Pass 

There are several different scenic drive options in Steamboat, but the Compass Boulder realtors at Burgess Group love Buffalo Pass for viewing fall colors.

Recommended Hike: Rabbit Ears Peak 

This moderate hike will lead you through meadows, forests, and rocky passes. There are incredible views of peaks. You’ll feel like you can see for hundreds of miles atop Rabbit Ears Peak. 

Distance: 5.5 miles 

Trail Type: Out-and-back 

Trail Map