17 Aug 2023
Can you feel it? That first rustle of cool air through the leaves? Fall is on our doorstep, and before you know it, the world will smell of pumpkin spice lattes and apple spice candles. We’ll trade our shorts for scarves, and the mountains be awash in the vibrant golden hues of our namesake Aspen trees.
Though most people think of New England when it comes to leaf peeping, and, it’s true, you’ll see a wider range of colors there; nothing quite compares to seeing the Rockies ablaze with fiery yellow leaves. The stark contrast against the evergreens and expansive blue skies is a captivating and awe-inspiring sight you won’t find anywhere else. From Maroon Pass to Snowmass, we’re giving you the insider’s guide to chasing the changing seasons. With only a few more weeks to go, it’s the perfect time to start planning your leaf peeping trip to Aspen.
The Golden Symphony of Maroon Bells
Tucked into the stunning Elk Mountains, just 10 miles outside of Aspen, Maroon Bells offers a breathtaking panorama where the aspen trees' shimmering gold dances with the reflections in Maroon Lake. This picture-perfect backdrop is famous among photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, and with twin 14,000-foot peaks flanking such gorgeous scenery, it’s no surprise why. In the fall, if you’re arriving after 8:00 AM, you’ll need to bike in or reserve a seat on a shuttle. But once you arrive, you can spend the day exploring all this area has to offer. Hike the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail or venture deeper into the Maroon-Snowmass Trail for an intimate experience with these towering trees and Instagrammable views.
Explore Castle Creek Road and Ashcroft Ghost Town
Castle Creek Road is a scenic byway that ambles through the aspens providing sweeping views of the changing landscape and inviting you to explore a piece of Colorado’s rich past. This mostly traffic-free route is perfect for cycling or a leisurely drive where you can make as many stops along the way as you please.
One of those stops should definitely be the incredibly well-preserved ghost town of Ashcroft. A beacon of prosperity and good fortune during Colorado’s silver mining boom, this desolate village was once home to a few thousand inhabitants, more than 15 saloons, and multiple hotels. If you’ve come prepared with your hiking boots, take a quick walk past the homesteads along the river and follow the path until it opens up to a beautiful valley.
Independence Pass: A Drive Through Heaven's Colors
Independence Pass is the highest paved state highway over the Continental Divide in Colorado, and it provides an astonishing scenic drive you won't soon forget. As you travel along Highway 82, winding through the towering peaks, you'll be met with epic views at every turn. A must-stop is the Grottos Trail, where you can stretch your legs and revel in the fall colors and some of the prettiest water features in Colorado. At only 0.6 miles, it’s a quick and easy stretch, perfect for families traveling with small children or for those just looking for a leisurely stroll.
Ascend Aspen Mountain
Aspen Mountain isn't just for skiing; it's also an exceptional spot for leaf peeping. Catch a ride to the summit on the Silver Queen Gondola and soar above the aspens. With breathtaking views that stretch for miles, this activity will give you a totally unique vantage point of the vibrant leaves. Once at the top, the mountain offers several trails and activities. From a round of golf at Kiss the Sky to a hike along one of the trails, it’s easy to make a day of it atop the peak. Before heading back down, take advantage of some delicious bites at the Sundeck, Ajax Tavern, or Element 47.
Best Time to See the Colors
The window for experiencing the full spectrum of colors in Aspen is typically the third and fourth weeks of September but can sometimes extend to early and mid-October. As with all things weather-related, though, timing can vary slightly each year, so be sure to consult local resources. No matter when you visit, the spectacle is always awe-striking. It’s also worth noting higher altitudes will change before lower ones, so different areas will peak at different times.
Your Autumn Stay with McCartney Property Management
As you dream of your fall adventure to Aspen, don't forget to secure the ideal base for your leaf-peeping vacation. With McCartney Property Management, find the perfect vacation rental that suits your style and needs. From cozy cabins to pet-friendly condos, we offer something for every traveler. Let the vibrant hues of Aspen trees guide your way, and let McCartney Property Management be your home away from home. Browse our properties today, and remember to book directly with us for the best service and rates for your Aspen vacation.