The fall colors in Colorado are something that everyone looks forward to! But where do you go and when is the best time to go? While each year the timing of fall colors changes, you can generally predict when and where the fall colors will be showing up. If you’re chasing aspen gold, these tips will help you hit the jackpot!
Know where to go and when
Because of the various environments, trees, shrubs, and elevations in Colorado, the fall colors have a long and extended season compared to other areas. You just have to know where to go and when to go there. The fall color season in Colorado usually starts in mid-September at the higher elevations in northern Colorado and can extend all the way through mid-October and sometimes even to November at the lower elevations in southern Colorado. The map below shows the approximate areas and times when fall colors in Colorado are at their peak times.
Fall colors in western Colorado around Montrose, Ouray, Telluride, and Crested Butte
Specializing in real estate in the greater Montrose, Colorado area allows me to see some great colors in fall. Crested Butte tends to get fall colors a little sooner than the rest of western Colorado. If you want to see some great fall colors in Crested Butte, check out the Kebler Pass Scenic Drive. For fall colors around Telluride and Ouray, the San Juan Scenic Byway is well worth the drive. It encompasses 236 miles and makes a loop through Telluride, Durango, Ouray, and other scenic mountain towns along the way.
Last Dollar Road is very popular and for good reason. The views of the San Juan Mountains and amazing colors are the trees are truly something beautiful! If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, take a guided 4×4 tour to Tomboy Basin and Imogene Pass. Getting a little more off the beaten path will allow you to see less-visited sites and enjoy the peace and quiet above treeline.
If you’re looking for some fall colors a little closer to Montrose, take Dave Wood Road out of town for beautiful aspens. Owl Creek Pass and Silver Jack Reservoir are sure to wow with amazing fall colors and unique, rocky formations along the Cimarron Ridge. We even get some great fall colors right here in the town of Montrose! Check out other destinations and attractions such as Riverbottom Park and areas around the Ute Indian Museum.
Fall is a great time to see wildlife
The cooler fall weather signals to wildlife to get ready for winter. Animals that hibernate such as black bears become more active in searching for food. Elk, moose, and mule deer come down from the higher elevations as it gets colder in search of better food sources and shelter from colder weather. The valleys around Silverton and Grand Mesa near Grand Junction offer some great moose habitat and if you’re lucky, you just might be able to see one! Some great places to see elk include the valleys around Crested Butte and the valley near Telluride and Mountain Village.
How to take better photos of the fall colors
You saw the fall colors but your photos just don’t do them justice. How can you get better photos of these amazing views? First, think about framing and composition. How are you going to fill the frame with the scene? Remember that your main subject doesn’t always have to be centered, try offsetting your subject for a more interesting composition.
Next, think about lighting. You can’t really control the natural light but you can sometimes control where or what direction you take the photo. Most phone cameras and even many digital cameras don’t do as well when the sun is flaring in the lens. If possible, take photos with the sun to your back. Then the sun shining on the scene in front of you will be lit up and the colors will pop more. If you do have to shoot more into the sun, use your hand to shade the lens from the sun. Finally, a few edits will surely make your photos pop. Many phones have built-in editing features or apps available. Add in some contrast and just a little saturation and it’s sure to add a little more “pop” to your fall photos.