2016 Guide to Fall Color Day Trips


It might be the most glorious trait of Colorado.  All the Fall colors that drip down the mountainside like a golden vein.

This guide was put together to give you a starting point for planning trips to see all the beauty.  Pack up some snacks and activities for the kids and head out for a lovely drive.  Most of the following are great day trips, although we did throw in a few that are a bit longer but worth the drive.

For the dates of the Peak Colors in different regions, see our Facebook share HERE with all the details.  Some of the peak times for the western slope are as early as September 15-25.  The closer areas to Colorado Springs will peak between September 25-October 7.

Enjoy this amazing season!  As always, if you have a favorite you would like to add to this list, email us the details at [email protected]

Day Trips

County Road 306, which is located just west of Buena Vista, will take you up Cottonwood Pass.  This road up to the Continental Divide is a popular drive.  The road is paved, and you can also continue on to take a visit to Taylor Park Reservoir.  The drive from Colorado Springs to Buena Vista is also sure to be worth it and beautiful!

About 2 hours and 45 minutes west of Colorado Springs, you can find the gem of Independence Pass.  If your kids are great travelers, consider this one for a day trip.  (if you are still testing the waters in the car, this one may be a stretch!)

Take Colorado 82 through Twin Lakes.  This road crosses the Continental Divide and continues on to Aspen.  It is narrow and winding, and it also has steep drop offs.  Definitely for the experienced mountain traveler!

Take the drive up America’s Mountain on Pikes Peak Highway.  Not only is the view breathtaking, the colors on the way up the shorter drive are stunning in the peak season.  And, it is always a treat to grab a donut at the Summit House on the top of Pikes Peak.

The roads that lead from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek are often busy, and the peak season of fall is no different…for good reason!  Hop on Highway 67 and enjoy the views of the vibrant colors on the way to Cripple Creek.  And of course, stop once you get there to enjoy the little town full of entertainment.  This day trip is truly one of our favorite!

Longer Trips...but Worth It!

One of our all time favorite Colorado treasures!  This national park is amazing no matter the season, but Fall is extra special.  There are miles of glorious roads to explore, spots to stop and get our of your car, and views that seem to go on forever.  The fall color is literally everywhere you look in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A bonus in the fall is rutting season for the elk.  Spectators line the roads of the meadows and valleys to take in the stunning creatures and listen to the bugle calls.  It is worth it to time your trip during the rutting season.

Between Ouray and Silverton in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, you will find Highway 550, which has rightfully been names the “Million Dollar Highway”.  From our experience of this trip, it is one of the most breathtaking journeys and one of our family’s favorites.

This stretch is especially incredible in the fall, and there are many great places to stop for an overnight stay if you would like to make a weekend trip out of this one.  Ouray would be a great place to spend the night, but we also love doing a long weekend trip to Durango, CO.  We stay in Durango for a night, and then do a day of the Million Dollar Highway, and then back to Durango for a final night stay!

County Road 12 is the road that you will want to find to journey on Kebler Pass.  This road is just west of Crested Butte.  It is an unpaved road, so a Jeep trip would be ideal for this. (although taking multiple kids in a Jeep may not be super practical.  This could be a great day date too!)  Do not leave home without your camera for this one.  You will want to capture all the beauty!

 COSMB’s Guide to Fall & Halloween!