No landscape in the country is quite like the Rocky Mountains. Their soaring heights, jagged edges, and beautiful foliage is unmatched across America. This beauty is only added to during autumn. The bright colors of the trees and the amazing wildlife create an even more astounding view for everyone who sees. There are many ways you can enjoy this, from bike rides and hikes to wildlife tours and so much in between.
When it comes to fall colors, few places in the country can rival the Rocky Mountains. The aspens turn a brilliant shade of yellow, and the rest of the trees follow soon after—except the evergreens, which provide a breathtaking contrast to the warm colors of the other trees. Fall is one of the most picturesque seasons for the Rockies, and you can appreciate it more with these activities.
Scenic drives are a fantastic way to see the beauty of fall in the Rocky Mountains with ease. You can wind through scenic routes like Bear Lake Road, which goes through Morraine Park before ending at Bear Lake. The turnouts along the road tend to fill up quickly, though, so keep your eyes out for a stop—you don’t want to miss these views. Another gorgeous option is the famed Trail Ridge Road, which is 48 miles (or about two hours) of some of the best views in the state. This road also gets crowded quickly, so if you want to make the most of the drive with stops, try to start early in the day. Bonus—you might get to see a mountain sunrise.
If long car rides aren’t your thing but you still want a speedier way to enjoy the scenery than hiking, bike rides are the way to go. Colorado is one of the best states for bikers, and the Rocky Mountains are a gorgeous place to go for a spin. You can bike—as well as drive—along Trail Ridge Road, but because it’s also popular driving spot, leaving earlier in the morning is a good idea. If you’re looking for a genuine mountain biking experience, you can check out places like Hermit Park. With a few different trail options and alternate routes for the experienced biker, this is a great option for bikers of varying abilities. When you’re getting ready to go out biking make sure you have all your gear. Mountain air is chilly year-round, so layers are a lifesaver.
Of course, one of the best ways to experience the beauty of fall in the Rocky Mountains is hiking. Rocky Mountain National Park alone has 300 miles of hiking trails—you can find one for every skill level and intensity. Some of the easiest trails in the park include the Lily Lake Loop and Bear Lake Loop, both just under a mile with fantastic lake view. Bear Lake Loop has better views of foliage, though, so it’s a good one for autumn hikes. Bridal Veil Falls, Fern Lake, and Sandbeach Lake have middling difficulty with wonderful fall colors. For the more adventurous hiker, Lumpy Ridge Loop and Pear Lake offer a more challenging but remarkably rewarding hike. Keyhole on Longs Peak is the most difficult trail, covering nearly twelve and a half miles and well over 3,000 feet in elevation changes, but for the hiker who braves it, the views and colors are astounding.
Hot Air Balloons:
If you’re looking for a unique fall mountain experience, look no further than a hot air balloon trip. Hot air balloons offer an unusual perspective on the brilliant colors of fall leaves with a one-of-a-kind experience. Due to wind tendencies, balloon rides are generally an early morning activity. You’ll get to see the sunrise just before or while you gracefully float above the trees. Hot air balloons are a fantastic way to see the most of the mountains at once—the panoramic views are breathtaking.
Interacting with Nature
If simply existing in and looking at nature isn’t enough for you, there are other, more interactive, activities you can choose. By getting closer—always safely—to the wildlife that thrives in the mountains, you can find new and exciting ways to experience the Rockies in a new light.
Autumn is a great time for trout in the Rocky Mountains. As most other outdoors adventurers opt for hunting, you have less competition for fishing spots and fish. Rocky Mountain National Park has 48 lakes with reproducing fish populations, and most are native species. The park allows sport fishing, catch and release, and has capture limits for some bodies of water. While fishing—especially with limited competition from other fishers—is a fun experience, make sure you are familiar with these guidelines from the National Parks Service. If you are aware of and follow these, you’re sure to have a great time.
Fall is a fantastic season for wildlife watching in the Rockies. The highlight of this is in mid-September through mid-October is the height of elk mating season, or rut. Nicknamed “elktober,” this month-length time period is a one-of-a-kind experience for viewers. As odd as watching animal mating rituals may sound, this is a huge event every year and an interesting educational experience. Because elk mating is so unusual, it is worth the initial weirdness. The climactic draw of the season is fights between male elk—bulls—where the two involved lock antlers and shove. It’s a tense standoff that often can go either way. If you’re planning on visiting in early October, keep an eye out for elk fests in Rocky Mountain towns
Because of the remarkable wildlife experiences, autumn is a great time for wildlife photography. Patience will pay off, and you can go home with amazing shots of interesting and varied animals.
The Rocky Mountains in autumn is a one of a kind experience. From seeing the fall colors on a drive to soaring above the trees in a hot air balloon to wildlife watching, the Rockies in the fall is something you don’t want to miss out on. If you need a way to get there, contact us about our rental vans. We can help get you, your group, and any gear you need to your mountain getaway.