Colorado Scenic Byway in the Fall

Enjoy Colorado in the FALL!

There's no better time than Fall to pick your favorite Scenic Byway and go leaf peeping during the seasons change. Colorado's Fall colors usually peak from Mid-September through Late-October. As the nighttime temperatures start to drop down to 30 degrees, our native trees like the quaking aspen and plains cottonwood start the processes of turning their leaves to gold, orange, red and purple.

GUANELLA PASS SCENIC BYWAY connects Silver Plume and Georgetown to Grant in north central Colorado. The byway is 22 miles long and takes about 60 minutes to travel. THE ROUTE: Take I-70 west of Denver to Exit 228 in Georgetown; follow signs for Guanella Pass from the Gateway Visitors Center, or From South Denver take C-470 to US 285; head west to Grant, Colorado and turn onto CR 62. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to Geneva Creek Trailhead off CR 62 on the Grant side of the pass, there is a small picnic area with restrooms.

LOS CAMINOS ANTIGUOS SCENIC BYWAY is in the San Luis Valley connecting Alamosa to the top of Cumbres Pass though the towns of Mosca, Blanca, Fort Garland, San Luis, Antonito, Conejos and Mogote in south central Colorado. The byway is 129 miles long and takes about 3 hours to travel. THE ROUTE: From Alamosa take SH 17 north; in Mosca follow the signs to Great Sand Dunes National Park; at SH 150 head south to US 160 to Fort Garland. In Fort Garland take SH 159 to SH 142 till it connects with US 285 to Antonito, then head west onto SH 17 and over La Manga and Cumbres Passes. Extend your drive to Chama, New Mexico for a real treat. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is a great place to stretch your legs, climb a sand dune and have a picnic lunch.

SANTA FE TRAIL SCENIC BYWAY features southeast Colorado: Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, Colorado City, La Junta, John Martin Reservoir State Park, Lamar, Las Animas, Pueblo, Pueblo West, Rocky Ford, and Trinidad. The byway is 188 miles long and takes about 4 hours to travel. THE ROUTE: As you enter Colorado from New Mexico on I-25 you will summit Raton Pass at 7,834 feet elevation; in Trinidad take Exit 15 onto US 350 to La Junta. In La Junta you will head east onto US 50 through Lamar; your last stop in Colorado is Holly and then the Kansas Border. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to John Martin Reservoir State Park with picnic sites, swim beach, boat ramp and restrooms.

SILVER THREAD SCENIC AND HISTORIC BYWAY in southwest is near Gunnison, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Lake City, Creede, Wagon Wheel Gap and South Fork. The byway is 117 miles long and takes about 3 hours to travel. THE ROUTE: Start in South Fork (from US 160) or Gunnison (from US 50); the byway connects the two Highways via SH 149. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to North Clear Creek Falls Observation Site between Spring Creek Pass and Creede. There is a wheelchair accessible trail to the overlook, restroom, picnic tables, and ample paved parking.

SOUTH PLATTE RIVER TRAIL SCENIC BYWAY in northeast Colorado is near Julesburg, Haxtun, and Holyoke. The byway is 19 miles long and takes about 30 minutes to travel. THE ROUTE: Start in Julesburg, travel along US 385 to Ovid and back to Julesburg along US 138. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to DePoorter Lake along US 138 just south of Julesburg. This is a popular summer evening escape along the Overland Trail. Amenities: covered picnic area, restrooms, fishing, shades trees, and a wheelchair accessible pathway around the lake.

UNAWEEP/TABEGUACHE SCENIC BYWAY in northwest is near Grand Junction, Delta, Montrose, Naturita, and Nucla. The byway is 133 miles long and takes about 3 hours to travel. THE ROUTE: From I-70 in Grand Junction, take US 50 south. Turn onto SH 141 just outside of Whitewater; this is where the Byway starts. Follow SH 141 through Gateway, Uravan, Vancorum; at Naturita take SH 145 to Placerville where the route ends. LOOKING FOR A PICNIC STOP, head to West Creek Picnic Area between Driggs Mansion and Gateway Colorado Auto Museum.

FUN FACT: Quaking Aspen are usually found on the southern slopes of our mountains and the southern side of our valleys. The reason an entire mountainside or valley will change at the same time is because all the aspen roots are connected and therefore the same tree!

HELPFUL TIP: Some prime Colorado vacation destinations for fall color viewing in September are Poudre River Canyon, Allenspark, Craig, Creede, and Salida.

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