Aspen - Little Known Facts about Rocky Mountain Gold

Each fall the aspen slowly show the signs of a new winter approaching. The colors: yellow, orange, and red (although this is rare!) paint the hillsides of Rocky Mountain National Park. The brilliant color may quickly fade, but it marches down the mountain side well into mid-October.
Estes Park Aspen in Fall Color

Beyond their dramatic color, aspen play an important role in the ecosystem as food for elk, deer, beavers, and a number of other rodents living under and around their distinctive white trunks. When you see a grove of aspen, it's likely you are actually looking at just one tree with many trunks connected by the root system. Native peoples would sometimes rub the inner bark to use as a form of sun screen. Aspen bark also contains the active ingredient for aspirin, so native peoples and fur trappers collected beaver castor glands which concentrated the chemicals in the aspen bark to be used in teas to reduce fever and headache.

RMNP's aspen have been heavily over-grazed by elk in the past, so many of the lower groves are now protected by fences. Thankfully, with the exclusion fences in place we will enjoy the yearly show of gold for centuries to come. For a great October experience, find a grove that's in full color and take a stroll! You might emerge feeling just a bit richer....

Guest blogger Jared Gricoskie from Yellow Wood Guiding. To book a tour visit or call 303-775-5484.

Spend a fall weekend in the mountains to experience nature's impressive display. To find a cozy cabin in the woods, a luxury suite, or a simple spot to rest your head after a day of hiking don't forget to visit, the original online visitor's guide to Estes Park.