Colorado's peak fall foliage is usually from mid-September to mid-October, and can vary by season. Colorado strikes aspen gold when the aspen trees turn brilliant yellow in the mountains. Colorado and Utah are home to the largest number of aspen trees in the U.S. Don't miss the fall colors this year with this list of handy resources.
Also, keep in mind trees in the mountains will change color earlier than trees in the Mile High City. If you wait until Denver is awash in picturesque tones of orange and red, the mountain trees will already be bare of leaves.
The Weather Channel offers an easy-to-use map of peak fall colors across the U.S. For 2012, the Weather Channel estimates peak colors will occur between late September and early October in most of Colorado. Pictured at left, aspen trees display their brilliant gold leaves on a hiking trail near Silverthorne, Colo.
The Colorado State Parks website offers a searchable database of fall colors across the state. To use the application, click on the "Conditions" tab and select the "Fall colors" radio button. The search will return parks with updates on fall colors. The park service has also created a brochure with recommended fall drives (click here to download the PDF file.)
Annual park passes for all of Colorado state parks cost $70 per year, or you can pay an entrance fee of $7 to $9 per vehicle for each state park. Some state parks also charge a walk-in fee of $3 per day.
The U.S. Forest Service maintains a fall colors update for the Rocky Mountain Region, which encompasses Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The U.S. Forest Service also breaks down the types of trees, from aspens to cottonwoods, that visitors can see in fall glory.
Combine the beauty of fall leaves with the mating rituals of large elk, and you have the perfect fall weekend. Suzy Blackhurst, director of communications for the Estes Park Convention & Visitors Bureau, said dusk and dawn are the best time to hear the elk bugle. The distinctive mating call is unmistakable and sounds like a bugle's blast. Pictured at left, a male elk struts his stuff in Estes Park, Colo.
A luxury autumn getaway awaits in Crawford, off the beaten path in southwestern Colorado. "There's not a stoplight for miles," said Mary Clare Silva, director of marketing for the ranch. The 1890s ranch has been restored, and now offers a secluded retreat from city life with farm-to-table cuisine.
Are you looking for more scenic trips across the U.S. to view fall color? Visit the Best Spots to See Fall Color, which lists Independence Pass and Leadville, Colo., as number eight.
All photos © 2012 Nina Snyder, licensed to About.com