back to articles | August 11, 2023 | Moses Mwangi

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

12 Colorful Fall Drives in Colorado

The turning of seasons in Colorado provides an incredible display of nature's artistic prowess. Furthermore, Colorado is downright jaw-dropping with its stunning hues of crimson, orange, and yellow against hugging roads, crisp blue skies, and majestic mountains.


The turning of seasons in Colorado provides an incredible display of nature's artistic prowess. Furthermore, Colorado is downright jaw-dropping with its stunning hues of crimson, orange, and yellow against hugging roads, crisp blue skies, and majestic mountains. It presents a perfect place for scenic drives, especially during fall. Here is a list of the best drives that will satisfy your soul and ensure you relish the changing seasons.

1. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway is beautiful during fall and a must-visit destination. It will take you through a mixture of evergreens and aspen for a stunning green and golden palette. This drive promises pure heaven.

This byway runs for about 55 miles and can take 2 hours of a scenic drive from Fort Collins, Boulder, or Denver. Note that along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, there are several matchless views and popular attractions, which include:

  • The continental Divide
  • Rocky Mountains National Park
  • Roosevelt National Forests
  • Golden Gate Canyon State Park
  • The Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

2. West Elk Loop

This scenic byway circles the West Elk wilderness through Carbondale, Crested Butte, Gunnison, and Paonia. It touches through three national forests and will take you across a diverse landscape of enormous Aspen, canyons, rivers, and meadows lit in orange and gold.

The West Elk Loop runs for 205 miles and promises the best road touring adventure. You can stop at the McClure Pass for the best photography moments during your drive. High mountain corridors are on both sides of the road, spilling out into auburn, yellow, and green canvas in fall.

3. Kebler Pass

Due to golden leaves carpeting the road, Kebler Pass is another must-drive area during fall. It has one of North America's most expansive aspen groves. This scenic drive runs for 30 miles and will take you through a mixture of gravel and pavement.

In addition, Kebler Pass connects Crested Butte and Paonia. It is a stunning shortcut to Aspen. At this road's end is a scenic view of the West Elk Mountains.

4. Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road will take you through the incredible alpine countryside of the Rocky Mountain National Park, where a pallet of colors fills it through its valleys and hillside. It runs for 48 miles and is one of the highest continuous paved roads in the US.

The road will ensure your journey on a 12,183 feet tree line. It will let you treat yourself to the majestic sights of the fall colors in the National Park. Note that this road is incredibly popular. Therefore, you may encounter RVs and tour buses during the day. For the best road tour, drive early. You should also note that this road does not open during winter.

5. Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway

The Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway runs for 101 miles and lets you drive through the Colorado Northern Rockies. It also allows you to journey from Fort Collins to Walden. This drive will take you three hours to wind through Roosevelt National Forest.

The best thing about this byway is the scenic views of moose, elk, deer grazing, the Cache La Poudre River, and massive forests. You can stop and relish the East Sand Dunes Natural Area and the Red Feather Lakes.

6. Maroon Bells Road

Maroon Bells Road stretches for 42 miles, and it will take you through one of the most photographed mountains in the United States, The Maroon Bells. The Maroon Bells Scenic Road breathtaking scenery will present you with a view of dark green conifers among golden aspen reflected in Maroon Lake.

Taking this road will allow you to capture the natural beauty of the Maroon Bells. Note that this site is incredibly popular all year round, so make sure to visit early or consider taking the shuttle bus.

7. Last Dollar Road

The Last Dollar Road stretches for about 20 miles and will take you two to three hours to relish it fully. It was a mining road, but today tourists consider the Last Dollar Road a hidden secret scenic drive for the stunning views of the San Juan Mountains.

During fall, the Last Dollar Road will present you with the spectacular golden colors of aspen. Note that the road is unpaved. Thus, it can be muddy and messy after rain. The road closes down after a significant snowfall.

8. Buffalo Pass

Buffalo Pass boasts some of the best fall colors. It is a short drive that runs for about 14 miles from downtown Steamboat. This road will take you through the spectacular sight of the Routt National Forest.

From the start, it lets you wind through a splash of golden-colored aspen groves. The best car for the Buffalo pass is a 4WD if you intend to go all the way to Walden. However, you can still use a 2WD if you drive slowly.

9. Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway

The Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway stretches for 57 miles and boasts one of the USA's most historic and scenic byways. It connects Salida and Granite and presents the best place to view the fall foliage with the spectacular backdrop of the Buffalo Pass.

Apart from the stunning fall foliage, the Collegiate Peaks scenic drive offers many opportunities to explore historic buildings and the undeveloped ranchlands. You can also make stops and enjoy recreational activities like kayaking, rafting, mountain climbing, fishing, and skiing.

10. Independent Pass

This gorgeous drive passes through the Continental Divide between Aspen and Leadville. It stretches for 32 miles and will present you with a mountainous terrain. This scenic fall drive in Colorado boasts incredible fall color goodness.

You will see plenty of aspens that show off the golden fall colors. In addition, you will encounter the incredible view of Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado. This scenic Independent Pass comprises a winding, narrow, steep road with several tight turns. It is also a seasonal road and will close down during winter.

11. Top of the Rockies

The Top of the Rockies winds above 9000 feet and comprises 82 miles. It lets you through the Continental Divide and the Arkansas River. In addition, the Top of the Rockies will ensure you enjoy majestic views of Mount Massive and Mount Elbert, which are the perfect backdrop to the spectacular fall colors. You will also cross high-country lakes and old mining camps, ensuring the best place to enjoy the beauty of fall.

12. San Juan Scenic Skyway

The San Juan Scenic Skyway boasts dramatic scenery of jaw-dropping cliffs and a fall appearance of gold, bronze, and amber. It stretches for 236 miles and will take you through several mountain towns, such as Cortez, Durango, Telluride, and Ouray.

This road also dips into the Uncompaghre National Forest, the perfect backdrop for fall colors. There are also a few hot springs that you can enjoy along your drive.

Summing it up

Colorado is the perfect place for a scenic fall drive. There are plenty of colorful drives, where you will see golden-colored leafs carpeting the road, plus an incredible backdrop of jaw-dropping red, orange, and yellow colors along Colorado's alpine roads.

That said, Colorado requires all drivers to carry auto insurance. Furthermore, you must always keep proof of this coverage with you while driving and show it to a law enforcement official at their request. Not carrying the necessary coverage can put you and your passengers at risk or lead to severe penalties.