Fall for Colorado with Colorful Adventures and Events
DENVER, Colo. (July 27, 2021) — Fall in Colorado is one of the most glorious and colorful times of the year. Cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, harvest bounty and waves of golden quaking aspens lighting up the mountain sides are just a few of the reasons.
The colorful state of Colorado plays host to countless unexpected ways to experience the changing of the seasons for drivers, hikers, riders, climbers, paddlers and anglers. This fall welcomes the return of many festivals that were put on hold in 2020 as well as new events to celebrate the season. Colorado’s local flavors can also be tasted through a variety of harvest, food and craft libations events and experiences.
Now is the time to book that much needed fall escape. Travelers are encouraged to embrace Colorado’s new interpretation of responsible tourism — showing care not only for the destinations but for the people who call Colorado home — by adopting the Care for Coloradans principles. Visit COLORADO.com for more information and fall inspiration.
Only-in-Colorado Ways to Experience Fall Colors:
- The Highway of Legends Scenic Byway, State Highway 12, ties the southern Colorado towns of Walsenburg, La Veta, Cuchara, Stonewall, Trinidad and Aguilar together on a journey rich with unique geological, cultural and historic features. Byway travelers learn legends from the Native Americans, the Spanish Conquistadors and the pioneers, miners, trappers and ranchers who explored and then settled this region as they stroll through coal mining towns and Hispanic settlements, explore galleries and museums and admire the spectacular fall colors.
- Electric Mountain Lodge is a newly reimagined four-season eco-friendly lodge, farm-to-fork culinary destination and basecamp for outdoor adventure in Paonia. This fall, the lodge is offering complimentary daily yoga, farm and winemaker pairing dinners, stargazing workshops, guided daily geology hikes, endless miles of OHV trails to explore and weekend concerts amidst groves of aspens as far as the eye can see.
- The 19-mile South Platte River Trail is on the main route westward and was used by pioneers, trappers, traders and gold seekers in the 19th century. Beginning at the Julesburg Colorado Welcome Center, it’s crisscrossed by portions of the Oregon, Overland-California, Bozeman and Mormon trails as well as the Pony Express Route and Union Pacific Railroad.
- After a $100 million renovation, The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway is back on track. It’s the highest railway in America, reaching an elevation of 14,115 feet on the scenic 9-mile trip. Pikes Peak is the star attraction, but the journey is full of show-stopping fall foliage and wildlife. At the top, the new fully accessible, environmentally sustainable Visitor Center welcomes guests with breathtaking views, an elevated pathway and overlook, new menu options and interactive digital displays.
- Among Grand Junction’s spectacular red cliffs and winding canyons, visitors can marvel at the 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-top mountain, which boasts more than 300 lakes. At 350,000 acres, the Mesa is graced with deep forests of aspens set against Colorado pine, spruce, fir and offers breathtaking ranges of fall colors. Crag Crest Trail offers a high alpine hike atop the spine of the Mesa, perfect for fall color viewing.
- Colorado’s 41 state parks are famous for providing world-class fall hiking, camping, boating and fishing opportunities, but many do not realize that 29 Colorado state parks offer hunting. From small game, waterfowl or hunting elk or deer, Colorado’s state parks are amazing fall hunting destinations.
- See the beautiful fall colors in Steamboat Springs’ wide-open spaces the way cowboys from generations ago did and still do today: from atop a horse. Steamboat’s ranching roots keep the community grounded in its Western heritage, making it different from every other mountain community. Options range from kid-friendly 1-hour rides to cattle drives and dinner rides.
- The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a National Historic Landmark that departs the Durango Depot daily. The scenic half-day ride to Cascade Canyon and back offers breathtaking fall color views of the Animas River, High Line and rugged wilderness vistas. The full-day journey includes Horseshoe Curve, High Bridge, and the Animas River Gorge with a 2-hour layover to explore historic Silverton.
- Guests at the creekside Grand Hyatt Vail can savor the gold hues of autumn exploring world-class, Gold Medal fly-fishing waters in the majestic Colorado Rockies. The hotel has partnered with Vail Valley Anglers to customize four-hour fly-fishing experiences for novice to advanced anglers with an exclusive 20 percent savings.
- Cloud Ladder, the steepest and most vertical Via Ferrata route in the U.S., opened this month at The Alpine Jewel Via Ferrata in Estes Park. Cloud Ladder provides 625 feet of vertical climbing, breathtaking exposure, two 40-foot suspension bridges that span a 300-feet-deep ravine, and two headwall sections that culminate at 9,250 feet with panoramic autumn views of Rocky Mountain National Park.
- The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad offers four fall photo special weekends in September. This tour goes all the way up the line, an additional mile and a half, allowing passengers to see the sweeping vistas of the Arkansas River Valley. Visitors can pair it with a Top of the Rockies Zip Line Ride down to base camp.
- Fall is the ideal time to rock climb at Rifle Mountain Park, considered by many as the best limestone sport climbing destination in the U.S. It provides more than 400 sport climbing routes ranging from beginner-friendly to some of the hardest grades in the country.
- The Aspen Kayak and SUP Academy offers friendly guides and coaches, high-level instruction and performance-quality gear that allow students to become captains of their own boats or boards. The Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers around Aspen offer waters for novice, intermediate and expert paddlers surrounded by stellar fall colors.
- The 360-mile Northern Colorado Loop Tour that begins and ends in Fort Collins connects the Cache la Poudre — North Park Scenic and Historic Byway, Colorado River Headwaters and Scenic Byway, and Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway with the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area. The loop is packed full of scenery, charming mountain towns and wildlife and is especially gorgeous in the fall.
- Guests can experience an autumn recalibration of mind, body and spirit amidst centuries old Garden of the Gods formations at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, it’s an emerging wellness destination, offering personalized journeys of restoration, renewal and well-being.
- Gunnison County’s Kebler Pass boasts North America’s largest aspen grove and is one of renowned photographer John Fielder’s favorite subjects. Ohio Creek Road is a great starting point as it passes unique landscapes, including ranch buildings marking the abandoned site of Castleton and the spires of The Castles — remnants of volcanic ash and mud that erupted from the West Elk Volcano 30 million years ago. Note: The pass is unpaved.
- The Telluride Free Gondola is one of the most popular ways to view amazing fall colors in the San Juan Mountains. The aerial views include the town of Telluride, its box canyon and colorful valleys lined with aspens and evergreens.
- Passengers on the Offroad Tour of Glenwood Canyon explore the 5,500 acre Bair Ranch, one of the oldest family-owned and -operated working ranches in Colorado, in a private Jeep. Views include majestic peaks, the Colorado River, Glenwood Canyon, wildlife and wildflowers, and fall foliage with Mount Sopris in the distance.
Fall Events are Back in Full Color:
- The Early Iron Festival in Alamosa, Sept. 3-5, is one of the San Luis Valley’s premier events. The show, which started 40 years ago, now draws well over 600 rodders and street car enthusiasts. After an enjoyable day in the autumn sun, the Early Iron Club hosts a rodders banquet.
- The Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials, Sept. 7–12, intertwines sheepdog trials, education, culture and history into a week-long showcase of sportsmanship, volunteerism and friendship. The Jamming Lamb Festival on Sept. 11, is a culinary experience with games, a beer garden and live music.
- The iconic Snowmass Balloon Festival returns to Snowmass Village for its 46th year Sept. 10–12. The event includes morning balloon launches and a Friday evening Balloon Night Glow. Spectators are encouraged to drive in, hike up or bike around to take in the sights.
- Downtown Boulder's Fall Fest, Sept. 17–19, features local food, micro-brews, music, children’s entertainment and activities, and Firefly Handmade Markets all along the historic Pearl Street Mall.
- Oktoberfests around the world are largely about beer, but the Denver Oktoberfest, Sept. 17–19 and 24–26, turns out fun for the whole family with a Dachshund Derby that has to be seen to be believed, costume contests, food booths, polka dancing and live music.
- The Steamboat Art Museum Plein Air Festival, Sept. 17–24, brings the community and visitors together with artists from near and far as they paint on location. Showcasing the beauty of the Yampa Valley, the paintings created during this festival spotlight historic landmarks, ranches and the community. Attendees can watch artists paint at the Quick Draw competition, take part in the Sunset Reception, attend the Plein Air Opening or see the exhibit Sept. 25–Nov. 6.
- The community of Trinidad commemorates the Bicentennial of Santa Fe Trail beginning Sept. 27 with tours throughout the week and historic and cultural activities, speakers and performances during the first weekend in October.
- The 15th annual Arts Hullabaloo, Oct. 1–3, returns to Westcliffe, where colorful trees surround the valley for three days of family fun celebrating the Arts. This year’s festival offers new and favorite events, all guaranteed to share the fun of creativity in kids of all ages.
Taste the Fall Flavors in Colorado:
- The Mountains and Mesas Liquid Arts Passport provides more than $150 worth of discounts at 20 or more wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries on the Western Slope from Grand Junction and Palisade to Montrose, Durango and Cortez. There are 5- and 90-day passports available.
- The West Elks American Viticultural Area (AVA) spreads through Delta county on the Western Slope of Colorado. It boasts of some of the highest vineyards in North America and some of the best Colorado wine and cider from nine stops along the route. A Wine Trail, Aug. 6–8, features tours, pairings and dinners.
- Lake City Silver Street Supper: A Farm to Fork Experience Aug. 14 invites guests to be seated on Lake City’s historic Silver Street while Chef Jesse Winston prepares a four-course meal, featuring ingredients from Western Slope farmers and artisans, complete with paired wines from Palisade’s Colorado Cellars, the state’s oldest, largest and most-awarded winery.
- Tour de Farms, Sept. 19, is an annual bicycle charity fundraiser that includes a fun and festive 35–40 mile, half-day ride that begins and ends in Fort Collins. It features a combination of paved and gravel roads, along with two or three stops at local area farms. Each farm stop features light tastings and refreshments along with a few words from each farm owner or representative.
- Paonia covers all the festival bases at its annual Mountain Harvest Festival, Sept. 23–26, with live concerts, farmers’ markets, beer and wine tastings, a chili cook-off, arts and crafts and farm tours
- Guests taste the pride of Pueblo at the Chile & Frijoles Festival, Sept. 24–26, featuring a special, intensely flavorful variety of green chile. Served smoking on a stick, chopped and tucked into a quesadilla or sprinkled in salsa, it’s the star of this show. Cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts and a farmers’ market round out the festivities.
- The Cedaredge Applefest, Oct. 1–3, has been celebrating area fruit growers annually since 1977, commemorating the fall harvest and rich agricultural heritage of the area. The event brings together local businesses, apple orchards, artists, musicians and at least 160 vendors.
- The 25th Annual Colorado Brewers Rendezvous, rooted in camaraderie and tradition, takes place on Oct. 2, in Salida against a backdrop of beautiful fall views of the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River. Festival goers can enjoy samples from 50 Colorado breweries, food and live music.
- The Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival, Oct. 8–10, brings together some of the finest distillers to share their talents, fun times, artisan snacks and quality spirits. The Breckenridge community turns into a distilling mecca with one-of-a-kind experiences planned throughout the weekend.
ABOUT COLORADO: Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine and 28 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 12 national parks and monuments, 26 scenic and historic byways and 58 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet. For more information or a copy of the 2021 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit www.COLORADO.com or call 1-800 COLORADO.
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