Along the Million Dollar Highway

Colorado is a yearlong colorful and outdoorsy state, and with the arrival of autumn you’ll see the state become vibrantly glittering in aspen leaves. It’s a golden brightness that matches no other!

Like all seasons, autumn comes earliest to the highest of elevations. Plan your leaf peeping trips starting in late August and early September for the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Durango, Independence Pass from Aspen to the Leadville and Buena Vista areas, and virtually all of Colorado’s other higher passes.

Aspens like the temps of the Rocky Mountains: cold winters and cool summers. They’re tall and slender. The stand of trees shares the root system, so they’re a colony or grove. While the trees mature and die, the root system lives on for even thousands of years. Thankfully, their roots are deep enough that groves typically grow back after wildfires.

So that’s the tree, but let’s get back to the locations. Elevations and mountains are their preferred homes, so the Colorado Rockies offer an abundance of opportunities for them.

Whether you’re coming in from New Mexico to visit the Dolores or Durango area, a bit farther east in Pagosa Springs or even further east coming through Trinidad, aspens are there for you. You’ll find truth in what the blog says, “Nearly the entire route from La Veta to Trinidad on Colorado 12 begs to be photographed.”

If you’re already in the central part of our gorgeous state around Lake City or up toward toward Kremmling, or coming down from Wyoming toward Steamboat Springs or Walden, you’ll spot those glorious aspen groves.

Uncompahgre River RV Park, Olathe.

Kebler Corner RV Park Campground & Cabins, Somerset

From Utah, drive to Grand Junction and on to Palisade following the Colorado River, or down toward Ouray or into Somerset. Colorado aspens offer so much opportunity in that area that you’ll be grateful we’re in the digital age or you’d be changing the film many times at every stop.

Closer to Colorado’s metro areas, there’s considerably more directions to take. From the greater Denver metro area, you can easily escape into the bliss of aspen groves by heading up to Estes Park or through the Golden Gate Canyon up to the Black Hawk area, or out to Fairplay.

From the Colorado Springs metro area, head on up to Woodland Park and Cripple Creek, or down to Pueblo and out to Canon City. You’ll find patches aglow in the scenery no matter your route!

From our perspective, wherever your path leads, if you’re in the Colorado Rockies you can find campgrounds that are open during your aspen leaf peeping trip.  Please, use our search page.

The blog nails it when it says, “Coloradans rejoice as the aspens’ gently tinkling leaves turn a vibrant shade of gold.”

This publication is supported by funding from the Colorado Tourism Office, a state agency. Turn to for a comprehensive list of festivals, events, historic areas, itineraries, and community insight.
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