Shifting Gears: Fall Color Drives Near Glenwood Springs

Leaf-peeping season in Colorado is a short one; combine your getaway to Glenwood Springs with a scenic Colorado color drive.

Glorious fall colors have arrived in Colorado! See them up close with leaf-peeping excursions that originate in Glenwood Springs. In addition to taking in the town’s extraordinary hot springs amenities including Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Iron Mountain Hot Springs and Yampah Vapor Caves and other popular attractions such as Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, visitors to Glenwood Springs are golden when it comes to the best places for beautiful fall color drives.

Several of Colorado’s Scenic & Historic Byways are close by, making for easy day trips that begin after a good nights’ sleep at accommodations in Glenwood Springs and end with flavorful meals at the town’s many restaurants. Designated by the Colorado Department of Transportation, scenic byways feature exceptional vistas and sites unique to the Centennial State and are never more stunning than in autumn.

Aspen groveTwo Colorado Scenic Byways Near Glenwood Springs

West Elk Loop

The entire loop is 205 miles, with a drive time of six to eight hours. The route begins in Carbondale, south of Glenwood Springs with views of Mt. Sopris. The majestic landmark is usually dusted with snow by mid-October. The drive continues past the hamlet of Redstone. Along State Highway 133, look for the Tudor-style Redstone Castle and the historic coal coking ovens that harken back to Colorado’s mining days. A gorgeous section for fall foliage is the drive over McClure Pass to Paonia and Hotchkiss, a fruit-growing microclimate on the Western Slope. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is another highlight. The loop continues through the ski town of Crested Butte and over Kebler Pass to connect back to Highway 133 and return to Glenwood Springs.

Top of the Rockies

This driving route hits Colorado’s high points and begins southbound on State Highway 82 to Aspen. Originally a silver mining town, it is now more famous for its world-class ski resorts and movie stars. This time of year, however, it’s the scenery that takes center stage. Ascending Independence Pass, day-trippers will be treated to lush glacial valleys surrounded by mountains awash in hues of every shade of gold. At the summit, the Continental Divide tops out at an elevation of 12,095 feet above sea level. Overlooks offer unimpeded views of 13,000-foot peaks including Mt. Champion, Geissler Mountain, Twining Peak, Grizzly Peak and Casco Peak. To return to Glenwood Springs, simply reverse course or continue through Leadville, over Tennessee Pass to Minturn and back to westbound Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

sunlight mountain aspensFall Foliage on the Fly

Short on time? Admire the beauty of the season even closer to town. These destinations are all within 20 minutes of Glenwood Springs.

  • Sunlight Mountain Resort. Before the snow flies, Glenwood’s hometown ski area is ideal for leaf-peeping. Park in the lot and stroll on the Nordic ski trails at Babbish Gulch or hike straight up the ski runs for top-of-the-world views from the summit.
  • Four Mile Park. Just before Sunlight Mountain Resort, turn right onto Forest Road #214 for uncrowded landscapes of open parks, aspen groves and stands of evergreen trees. There are multiple trails for hiking and biking.
  • Red Mountain. Park at the small lot off Midland Avenue, located at the base of Red Mountain, and hike or bike the Cross or Jeanne Golay trails. Oak brush and aspen turn the mountainside fiery shades in autumn. At the top, bird’s-eye views span from the Elk Range to the south to the valley floor below.

Fall photo collageMake plans for your Glenwood Springs fall getaway, including a classic color drive. Visit Glenwood Springs and learn more today!

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