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Aguilera Shares Good Drives For The Early Fall Colors

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Written by Meteorologist Dave AguileraBecause of the long, dry, drought of the last spring and summer Colorado’s annual Fall color change in the mountains is happening one to two weeks ahead of schedule.

Because of that you may want to get in the car and take a drive this week or next and get a good look at the changing leaves.

Here is a list of some terrific drives you can take to get a glimpse of this years fall color:

aspens1 Aguilera Shares Good Drives For The Early Fall Colors

Chris Freeman took this photo in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 16, 2012.

Rocky Mountain National Park

From Denver take highway 36 through Boulder, Estes Park and straight into the park, using Trail Ridge Road. Enter Rocky Mountain National Park and follow the road to Bear Lake. One of the best places for viewing the aspens is the area around Glacier Gorge Junction. If you’re lucky you may see a few bugling elk welcoming in the new season.

PHOTO GALLERY: Rocky Mountain National Park

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Andre Ewing of Aurora took this photo on Sept. 18 near Georgetown.

Guanella Pass

From Denver take I-70 west and exit at historic Georgetown. Follow county road 381 over Guanella Pass to the town of Grant for some spectacular aspen viewing. A large part of the road is gravel. So if there is a lot of rain or snow the road can be a bit rutty. This is also a great time to ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. A steam locomotive will take you on a scenic ride to Silver Plume.

fall colors peak to peak hwy on the way to brainard lake 9 12 11 Aguilera Shares Good Drives For The Early Fall Colors

Marsha Hobert of Estes Park took this photo on the Peak to Peak Highway near Brainard Lake on Sept. 12.

Peak to Peak Highway

This drive will take you on the Peak to Peak Highway. On U.S. 6 through Clear Creek Canyon, take highway 119 past Blackhawk and Central City up to the mountain town of Nederland. Look for highway 72 heading to Ward and Allenspark. You should see thousands of acres of golden aspen with the Continental Divide as the backdrop.

Poudre Canyon

From Denver take I-25 north to exit 269. Take Colorado 14 west through Laporte and into Poudre Canyon. You will be driving through Roosevelt National Forest. On this drive you will go over Cameron Pass and have a good look at the Medicine Bow Mountains.

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Sheila Schwartz took this photo on Sept. 16 at the Maroon Bells Scenic Area near Aspen.

Aspen

From Denver, take I-70 west to Copper Mountain, where you will follow highway 91 through Leadville to highway 82. the aspen should big and bold as you travel from Twin Lakes over Independence Pass and down into the town of Aspen. While your there you can take a little detour to the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed areas in Colorado. Check out the John Denver Sanctuary while you are in Aspen.

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Peter Pereira of Centennial took this photo on Sept. 19, 2012, in Vail.

The I-70 Corridor

There are no complicated directions for this one. Drive from Denver west on Interstate 70 all the way to Avon. The viewing is awesome as you travel from Vail Pass to Avon. The aspens will highlight the slopes on both sides of the interstate.

Hoosier Pass

Go west along I-70 to the Frisco exit and head toward Breckenridge on highway 9. Continue over Hoosier Pass down into the towns of Alma and Fairplay.

img 7399 Aguilera Shares Good Drives For The Early Fall Colors

Bill Fountain of Highlands Ranch took this photo on Sept. 13 on Boreas Pass.

Boreas Pass

Again go west along I-70 to the Frisco exit and head south through Breckenridge on highway 9. Look for Boreas Pass Road on the south side of Breckenridge. Follow the road around 14.5 miles to the town of Como. Most of this road is unpaved, so don’t take the Cadillac. The view of the Blue River Valley is great. And the waves of aspen groves are quite impressive.

West Elk Loop

From Denver, take I-70 west to Glenwood Springs where you will follow highway 82 south to Carbondale. Take highway 133 through Carbondale and continue over McClure Pass, there you will find one of the largest expanses of aspen in Colorado. The loop will take you through Paonia, where you’ll head east on highway 92 to Gunnison. The loop back takes you on highway 135 to the ski town of Crested Butte where you’ll drive a gravel road over Kebler Pass and then back to Carbondale on highway 133. This is a longer trip but, well worth it.

San Juan Skyway

The San Juan Skyway starts in Durango and travels north on U.S. 550 to Silverton where you’ll follow the “Million Dollar Highway” over Red Mountain Pass down through Ouray (Colorado’s little Switzerland) and into Ridgeway. Take Highway 62 over Dallas Divide on your way to Placerville where you’ll want to turn south on highway 145 and head toward Telluride. Continue over Lizard Head Pass down to Cortez. Heading east on U.S. 160 will return you to Durango. This is considered one of the most scenic drives in America. I might also, add this is a great drive in the summer when all the wildflowers are blooming.

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Karen Fliedner of Englewood took this photo at Cottonwood Lake on Sept. 18, 2012.

Cottonwood Lake

Take U.S. 285 south from Denver to Buena Vista. Drive about seven miles west of Buena Vista on Main Street, and turn left on county road 344. You’ll find Cottonwood Lake about four miles down the road surrounded by beautiful groves of Aspen.

Poncha Pass

Take U.S. 285 south from Denver, or from Pueblo take U.S. 50 to Poncha Springs. Continue south on us 285 over Poncha Pass where you’ll find stands of aspens along San Luis Creek.

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