10 grand drives for fall colors

BY SETH BOSTER seth.boster@gazette.com

2023-09-18T07:00:00.0000000Z

2023-09-18T07:00:00.0000000Z

The Gazette, Colorado Springs

https://daily.gazette.com/article/282308209708824

LIFE

Gas tank full? Camera ready? Camping or lodging plans arranged for the venture far afield? It’s that time of year again. Here are some of Colorado’s best drives for fall colors. Kenosha Pass: It’s a go-to for Front Range folks — an easy day trip from Denver out on U.S. 285. The highway travels past Conifer toward Fairplay, never rising above the trees; the glistening leaves stay with you all the way. Peak to Peak Highway: The highway runs 55 miles between Central City and Estes Park. A common launch point is closer to the middle from Nederland, outside Boulder. The Rocky Mountain National Park skyline delights with the aspens. Guanella Pass: Go on a weekday if you can. As the colors change, the crowds rush to this 22-mile tour from Georgetown to Grant. Kebler Pass: The rugged but mostly flat road near Crested Butte weaves through a tunnel of some of the tallest aspen stands you might ever see. The Dyke is a bucket-list image — a throne-like outcrop over a splash of red and yellow. Highway of Legends: The state’s newest national scenic byway — designated in 2021 — is often overlooked. Colorado 12 connects La Veta and Trinidad and offers stunning geology, Spanish and mining history and an aspen-sprinkled panorama above 11,000 feet. Independence Pass: Colorado 82 is an iconic stretch from Twin Lakes, roaming up and over the Continental Divide. You may want to proceed to Aspen, where maybe you’ve made reservations to take the shuttle to the Maroon Bells. Rabbit Ears Pass: It stresses drivers on snowy days but only relaxes and charms on days when the sun shines over grateful, golden forests. U.S. 40 between Kremmling and Steamboat Springs is a stunner. Million Dollar Highway: From Ouray, U.S. 550 rises toward historic mining remnants and glowing groves on the way to Silverton. Warning: Without guardrails along the narrow, steep side of the road, it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Grand Mesa Scenic By way: The road tours 63 miles over the world’s largest flattop mesa, which happens to be home to abundant aspens. From Palisade, the drives journeys through forest and lakes to the Lands End overlook. Owl Creek Pass: This is the southwest Colorado country that defined “True Grit.” Deep in the San Juan Mountains outside Ridgway, fans of the original film might recognize the idyllic scenery along this dirt track beloved by anglers and campers.

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