The first day of fall is September 22nd, and along with cooler crisp autumn days we can expect to see golden aspens basking in all their glory around Estes Park very soon. Groves of aspen trees start to light up the area with shades of red, orange, and yellow offer a spectacular display only Mother Nature can provide. We are so lucky that our resort is right in the middle of Colorado fall colors.
Start planning your Estes Park getaway by browsing accommodations at Rocky Mountain Resorts and discover all the fun things to do and see by using our guide on how to enjoy the fall colors in Estes Park.
Best time to visit
There is always a question of when the best time to visit Colorado for the peak fall colors in the Rocky Mountains and really depending on whether that can vary. The best time to see fall colors in Estes Park is from late-September to the beginning of October. For an up-to-date report on current peak times for fall colors in the Rocky Mountains view the online foliage tracker here.
Take a drive
One of the best ways to take in the scenes of fall colors in Estes Park is to take a scenic drive. Two very popular drives, both in Rocky Mountain National Park, are Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road. Do note both roads close for the winter season, so always check road closures before venturing out.
Trail Ridge Road is one of the most popular mountain roads in the area. This 48-mile road spans the length of the park from Estes Park to Grand Lake. Not only does this road provide unbeatable views of the Rockies but it also provides a chance to see the beautiful Colorado fall colors. Travelers will see aspen groves along this long stretch of road, scattered amongst pine, fir, and spruce trees. This is also a great road to spot local wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, moose, black bears, pikas, and more!
Old Fall River Road takes the adventure off-road with a one-way dirt road that winds its way through Rocky Mountain National Park. Starting at the entrance of the park, the road brings travelers up the mountain to the intersection of Trail Ridge Road and the Alpine Visitor Center. The views don’t stop with golden aspen groves, there are many waterfalls along Fall River that make this an unforgettable drive.
Hiking amongst gold
Stretch your legs and take a hike along the many trails that guide you through golden aspen groves for close-up views of this magnificent time of year.
As one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, no matter what season, Bear Lake is a great hike. This quick hike highlights views of colorful aspens that reflect on the lake and contrasting backdrop with granite slopes, making for a photography-worthy snapshot. And with snow-capped peaks in the background such as Hallett, Half Mountain, and Longs Peak, this is Colorado at its finest.
This relatively easy hike brings hikers, just as the name describes, to the beautiful Alberta Falls. Along the way the trail guides you through colorful aspen groves, making this one of the best hikes to take in the fall.
Take the short loop-hike around Sprague Lake for beautiful fall reflections in the water, plus views of Longs Peak and the Estes Cone. It’s another favorite hike amongst visitors, so plan to arrive early.
Note: Due to COVID-19, these festivals have been canceled for the 2020 season.
Autumn Gold Festival
The town of Estes Park highlights the changing of the season with its annual Autumn Gold Festival. Sample some tasty bratwursts, sip on some local brews, and listen to live music during this colorful event. September 22nd – 23rd.
Every year the signs of fall are not only seen in Estes Park, but they can be heard as well. Late September is mating season for elk, also known as the elk rut. Estes Park celebrates this inaugural event with Elk Fest. September 29th – 30th.
Stay at Rocky Mountain Resorts
If you’re planning a trip to see the fall colors in Estes Park, you won’t find a better place to stay than at Rocky Mountain Resorts. Our affordable accommodations are just minutes from downtown Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Choose from cozy cabins, vacation condos, and cottages for your next mountain getaway and enjoy the best of fall in our backyard. Browse our accommodations and book your stay!