Foliage.org: What are the projected dates Denver, Colorado peak foliage season?
In the mountains above 7,500 feet, peak color was last weekend and this weekend. Mountains vary by elevation, whether they face north or south, and year, but generally is from mid-September to first week of October. Denver’s peak color is usually mid-October.
Foliage.org: Are there areas, vistas, scenic lookouts or other destinations within Denver that are known for their uniquely beautiful autumn foliage displays?
There are 1.9 million acres of aspen trees in Colorado — over one billion trees that if placed together would cover an area larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Throughout the summer, the aspen, which seldom grows more than a few inches in diameter, is overpowered by mountainsides of dark green conifers. But around mid-September, an amazing transformation takes place and the little aspen becomes the “Clark Kent” of trees, suddenly turning into one of the most spectacular sights on earth — a mountainside of shimmering gold.
An aspen leaf doesn’t just turn color, it positively glows in a luminescent bright yellow, almost as if it had its own light source. The leaves are small, delicate and tissue-thin with an aerodynamic shape that keep them in perpetual motion. Even a slight breeze sends every leaf on the tree shimmering.
When the aspens turn gold, backed by Colorado’s deep blue sky and rugged snow-dusted peaks, and framed on all sides by dark — almost black — conifers, it is one of nature’s most beautiful sights. And it’s not hard to find. Colorado’s forests cover 14 million acres — a woodland that would blanket every inch of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. Aspens can be found everywhere in Colorado, which offers 12 national forests to choose from.
Foliage.org: What are the local and regional roads or highways that are favorite scenic routes for Fall tourists?
From Denver, there are two delightful and easy drives.
From Denver, head west on 6th Avenue Freeway to Hwy. 119 and then north to Colorado Highway 72, the “Peak to Peak Highway.” This twisting mountain road follows the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains north, passing through aspen groves with vistas of snowcapped peaks. It’s 71 miles to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park where there are many wonderful aspen groves in truly spectacular settings. The park offers 412 square miles of scenic beauty, with many wonderful miles of hiking trails. Elk herds are often seen in the fall in the meadows and valleys.
One of the most spectacular ways to view Colorado’s changing of the aspens is from an open gondola car pulled by a steam locomotive on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. Located 42 miles west of Denver on I-70, this restored 1877 railroad that carrys passengers up a mountain valley through stands of bright gold aspens. The Loop is so named because in order to climb up the steep mountainside, the tracks had to twist and turn two and half times, at one point crossing over themselves on a 100-foot high trestle called the Devil’s Gate Bridge. The operation is considered to be one of the world’s greatest railroad engineering feats.
The Village of Georgetown has over 200 restored Victorian buildings and a delightful main street lined with antique stores and shops. Nearby Silver Plume offers an authentic old west mining town. Both towns are surrounded by aspen groves. More spectacular aspens can be found by heading from Georgetown up Guanella Pass, which twists its way up to 11,669 feet above sea level.
For more information about the Georgetown Loop, visit: www.georgetownlooprr.com, for more information on Denver visit: www.visitdenver.com.
In Denver, best viewing is in City Park and Washington Park.
Foliage.org: What are some helpful resources for discovering local inns, bed and breakfasts, lodges, boutique hotels, and other local lodging and dining?
Thanks to Rich Grant of VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau for providing this most helpful information