Zuma Tim Tolnay of Evergreen took this photo on Sept. 24 of “on the road to Mt. Baker and Torres.”
Summer is about gone and the shimmering colors of fall are here. This is the bittersweet time of year when the hot sunshine is left behind to welcome nature’s paintings made up of golden yellow, red and deep orange leaves mixed perfectly in with the gorgeous greens. Mid-September through early October offers at least one trip to the Rocky Mountains to soak up nature’s antidote to the summer blues. As an added bonus, warm days and crisp cool nights make this time of year ideal to enjoy some of Colorado’s best hot springs.
Georgetown Loop Railroad
1520 Argentine St.
Georgetown, CO 80444
Probably one of the easiest treks to view plenty of green and golden fall splendor is to drive up I-70 to Georgetown. Here visitors will find fun restaurants, adorable little shops and, of course, the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Only an hour from downtown through beautiful mountain scenery full of color, this quick ride is the ideal way to spend a fall day. The must-see attraction in Georgetown is a narrow gauge railroad that dates back to 1884 and still offers an amazing three-mile trip between Georgetown and Silver Plume. What kid would not love a train ride and a possible visit to an old nearby mine to pan for gold? While in the area, be sure to stop by the next-door town of Silver Plume and check out even more of Colorado’s mining history. Just two miles up the road, this quaint little town has a wonderful museum and even an original jail cell that still sits on the side of a road.
Related: 2014 Denver Fall Theater Preview
Grab the bike or take a hike up Kenosha Pass this fall. At an elevation of 10,000 feet, this spectacular mountain pass is located not far from Denver just before heading down the mountain to the famous South Park area. Although probably a bit too cold now for camping, there is still plenty of hiking and biking to be enjoyed during the season. There are trails in both directions filled with some of the most vibrant fall colors in the entire state. Big time hiking enthusiasts know that the famous Colorado Trail crosses the summit of Kenosha Pass and there are views of nearby 14er peaks of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt.
For most, the 14er hiking season has come to a close and Mt. Bierstadt remains a challenge to tackle next summer. Yet atop Guanella Pass sits not only a gorgeous short day hike on Mt. Bierstadt, but a scene filled with aspen trees and a multitude of bushes that have turned gorgeous fall shades. A hike or even a short stroll will show off the colors mixed with ponds and rivers galore. Explorers should travel Guanella Pass with fully charged camera batteries, there is plenty to see.
Cripple Creek and the Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad
520 E. Carr Street
Cripple Creek, CO 80813
Not every fall color excursion is to the north or west of Denver. A drive west on Highway 67 through Woodland Park to Cripple Creek is nothing short of glorious. Fall color enthusiasts need to plan this trip south to the area where not only are there aspens and pines mixed with plenty of other colorful trees, but there is a town to visit at the end. Cripple Creek was almost named the capital of Colorado. This historic mining town offers fun for the whole family including gambling for the adults and the coolest century-old steam railroad ride that takes visitors back in time to the glorious mining days. For a nominal fee, the train ride includes a conductor who entertains with facts while riders will soak up the gorgeous landscape.
Estes Park Visitor Center
500 Big Thompson Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Autumn in Estes Park may be the most incredible time to visit. The gorgeous greens of the pines are speckled with a variety of shades of golden aspens and the lovely Lake Estes smack in the middle. Here visitors can spend an entire weekend snapping pictures of the bold beauty of Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in North America. Of course, it all depends on the unpredictable Colorado climate on whether or not travelers will get to cross the Continental Divide at around 11,000 feet. If too much snow is in the forecast, then there is plenty to do in Estes Park. There is the must-visit Stanley Hotel where travelers can possibly share a night with a ghost. This beautiful old fashioned hotel is best known for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Nature lovers will enjoy the added bonus of mating season for the bull elk. Their bugle calls are often heard this time of year.
Colleen Bement is a freelance writer covering all things Denver. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.