The brilliant fall colors of mid to late September and early October change our beautiful state of Colorado into a colorful-wonderland. One of the best places to see this magic is in Buena Vista! From Aspen trees at high elevation to the Cottonwoods in the valley floor, this is a spectacle you will not want to miss. If you are visiting from out of town for the leaf peeping, we understand you will want to make the most of your experience! So, please continue reding to answer the question: where and when should we go see the fall colors in Colorado?
Before diving into the list, there is an important distinction that will help you chose your fall adventure. Elevation has quite an important effect on when and where the fall colors peak. Higher elevations (mountain passes, 14,000 ft mountains, etc.) will peak in mid to late September, lower elevations will peak toward the end of September into early October. Expect to see brilliant orange and yellow hues from high-alpine bushes, Aspen trees, & Cottonwood trees. For convent access to the following curated list, everything is within an hour drive of A Riverhouse Lodge in Buena Vista, CO.
- Cottonwood Pass, Cottonwood Lake, & Taylor Reservoir
Right in our backyard, is Cottonwood Pass, the highest paved mountain road in Colorado, with a 12,126 ft summit. Reach Cottonwood Lake in 15 minutes and the Continental Divide in 30 minutes. This pass is full of both cottonwood and aspen groves, for a vibrant mix of colors! Take the pass all the way to Taylor Reservoir for other recreational adventures.
- Independence Pass
About a 1-hour drive, this scenic adventure will take you past Twin Lakes (where we highly recommend a pit stop!) and over Independence Pass toward Aspen, CO. This is the 2nd highest paved mountain pass in Colorado at 12,095 feet at the summit and is full of spectacular views.
- Kenosha Pass
Another 1-hour drive, is to Kenosha pass. This pass is easily accessible if you are traveling to or from Denver for a cozy-nights stay at our lodge. With a pit-stop in Fairplay Colorado, Kenosha pass is full of miles of aspen trees.
- Princeton & St. Elmo Ghost Town
What’s unique about our area is the high concentration of 14ers (14,000 ft peaks) that surround our valley. Drive between two spectacular 14ers: Mt. Antero and Mt. Princeton, to reach the ghost town of St. Elmo. This drive will take you about an hour and a half to complete. There’s more to see then just the fall colors when you reach St. Elmo. Walk around the well-preserved ghost town for some cool mining history and chipmunks that will eat right out of your hand.
Hoping to stay close to home-base instead? Right out the front door of A Riverhouse Lodge is full of fall foliage! With Cottonwood trees shedding their orange, red, and yellow leaves into the Arkansas River, it will be an experience you will never forget. One of our favorite ways to enjoy the fall is to sip on a freshly-brewed coffee (locally roasted coffee is complimentary with your stay) and sit on our patio that overlooks The Arkansas River. Enjoy our very own Riverview Nature Trail that leaves directly from the lodge, or visit the Riverside Park and down-town Buena Vista to experience fall colors!
It’s not too late to book your stay at A Riverhouse Lodge. So, join us now into October to experience the fall colors Colorado has to offer. With a cozy night’s stay at A Riverhouse Lodge, you will get the comfort and rest you need to enjoy all of your outdoor plans. We are excited to be your headquarters for adventure!