in Outdoor Play / by Roofnest Team
It’s Labor Day, which means it’s almost time for peak fall colors in the high country.
For campers who are lucky enough to live in the Mile-High State, it’s the perfect time to start planning your fall trip to see the changing leaves across Colorado.
There are almost too many epic spots and road trips to choose from, so we’ve rounded up our 7 favorites to make it a little easier. Plan on taking a few days off to see as much of the Colorado fall colors as you can — before it’s too late!
Just south of Aspen and tucked along the Rocky Mountains, this quaint mountain town can’t be skipped if you’re looking for the best places to see fall colors in Colorado.
The town hosts a variety of fall activities — camping, fly fishing, dog sledding, to name just a few. You also can catch live music July-October during the Crested Butte Music Festival or catch a film during the Crested Butte Film Festival.
The nearby Gunnison River is a fantastic place to jump on a raft or kayak to see the fall colors up close and personal.
If you’re stretched for time, just make sure you don’t miss a ride on the Silver Queen chairlift for a scenic flyover to the top of Mount Crested Butte. You’d be pressed to find a better way to view the fall colors from this vantage point.
Trail Ridge Road, Estes Park to Grand Lake
Now’s your chance to follow the Continental Divide for a scenic drive full of vibrant fall colors. This drive is a true all-American experience: as the highest continuous road in the country, this historic byway took 10 years to build and is well worth the trip.
Start your tour in Estes Park at The Stanley Hotel, famously known from Stephen King’s horror movie “The Shining.” From there, meander down 20 miles of valley and summit until you hit Many Parks Curve, which makes for a great scenic view of Longs Peak and Twin Sisters Peak East.
After snapping a few photos, you’ll cross the Continental Divide at Milner Pass. Here you can get some more stunning views of Poudre Lake, and you can park your Roofnest along the trail before the trail closes in late October.
The Million Dollar Highway, Silverton to Ouray
Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the journey. That’s how we feel about this 25-mile stretch of winding autumn scenery from Silverton to Ouray.
Part of the San Juan Skyway, this is known as one of the most beautiful drives in America. The entire drive delivers jaw-dropping vistas and will only take you about 42 minutes to drive, allowing you to take your time.
The road is open for a drive year-round, but you won’t want to be caught in a winter storm up here, so it’s advised to make your trip before the first snow hits in October.
While the views are epic, just make sure you keep your eyes on the road if you’re driving due to the twists and turns.
If you’re headed southwest for some fall colors, look no further than Colorado’s own Telluride.
A former-mining-town-turned-ski resort, there’s no shortage of things to do here. The area boasts some of the best campgrounds in the state, with views of the San Juan Mountains. If you have your fishing license, this is a great spot to fly fish while you take in the colorful scenery.
Pro tip: don’t skip the Telluride and Mountain Village Gondola.
Maroon Bells, Aspen
You’ve no doubt seen the picturesque valleys of Maroon Bells on every Colorado postcard and giftshop keychain. But this fall foliage is something you really need to see to believe.
Getting to Maroon Bells is easy, since it’s a quick drive from Aspen or Snowmass from Highway 82.
To get the classic view of the mountain peas and colorful trees reflected in the water, hike the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop. For a longer, more difficult adventure, hike the 25.7 Four Pass Loop and be sure to pack your heavy-duty hiking gear.
Park your Roofnest at Silver Bell Campground at any of the 14 sites for a panoramic view of aspens, wildflowers, and towering forest right outside your windows.
Grand Mesa Byway, Western Slope
We love this Colorado fall foliage drive on the Western slope. 11,000 feet above sea level, you’ll wander around colorful valleys filled with one of the best views of changing leaves in the state.
Take a detour to Land’s End Overlook to see the view of the world’s largest flat-top mountain. You might even catch some local wildlife while you’re there — just keep an eye out for moose!
Camp All Year Long
Fall in Colorado should really be enjoyed from your RTT. There’s nothing like waking up in your Roofnest to brisk mountain air and beautiful fall foliage all around you.
With COVID-19 still impacting some travel plans, it’s never a bad idea to plan on spending the fall and winter outside. At Roofnest, we don’t think you should stop exploring once the temperatures start to drop.
There are plenty of ways to prep your roof top tent for cold weather camping. Check out our guide to staying warm during winter camping in your RTT >
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