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When is the best time to see fall colors?

Normally between the third week of September and mid-October!

But here’s what affects these “normally” dates…

A recipe for disappointing fall colors:

Entering fall in drought or near-drought dryness (which causes fall colors to start earlier and be weaker).

Fall storms with lots of wind and rain and even snow.  Early frosts cause leaves to turn brown and drop in the wind.

A recipe for great fall colors:

Lots of winter and spring snow, good summer rain, and fall weather of warm, sunny days and cool nights.  These make for ideal growing conditions and vibrant color.

When conditions are right for a show of brilliant color and fall temperatures are predicted to be above average with cool, frostless nights,  the “Autumn Gold” of golden aspens in the Rocky Mountains is spectacular!

Fall Color Forecast

Go for the GOLD!  Fall conditions are predicted to be perfect for fall color viewing.  What to expect in September and October in Rocky.

3 Great Scenic Drives for Fall Color

  • Peak to Peak Highway from Estes Park to Central City/Blackhawk along the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Enjoy this drive in the morning when aspens facing west will be lit by the morning sun.
  • Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road Loop in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Higher elevations in the Park display the first color of the season, and the colors march down in elevation as fall progresses.  Take this drive early in the fall before early snows could close Old Fall River Road.
  • Bear Lake Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.  As you climb up to Bear Lake, look for spectacular color displays on the Bierstadt Lake ridge to the right of the road.

Top Fall Color Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Fern Lake and Cub Lake trails combine the best of fall – golden aspen and bugling elk in the meadows.
  • Glacier Gorge trails from Alberta Falls and beyond are favorites with fall hikers.  Take the free Park Shuttle Bus to avoid parking hassles.  The Glacier Gorge trailhead parking lot is quite small and fills early in the day.

Celebrate fall in Estes Park at their Autumn Gold Festival in September, and Elktober Festival in late September/October.

Don’t miss a chance to experience fall colors at their peak!  Being outside in the cool autumn air with sunlight shining down through a grove of golden aspens just can’t be beat.

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