The Insider’s Guide to Aspen Fall Colors and Foliage

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus

There’s no feeling like waking up and realizing that fall has settled on Aspen. Our warm summer air transforms into a crisp breeze, and the mountaintops come alive with brilliant shades of gold as the leaves change colors. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or driving, the Aspen fall colors will not disappoint.

Start planning your autumn getaway when you access our complimentary Aspen Travel Guide!

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What Is the Best Time for Fall Colors in Colorado?

The best time to see our gorgeous Aspen fall colors is typically during the third or fourth week of September. We recommend consulting a fall foliage map to get the exact time of peak season. 

How and Where to See Aspen Fall Colors

Maroon Bells with Snow - HikeOn Foot

Recommendation: Cathedral Lake

We love hiking in the fall because it means that you can take in our gorgeous foliage at your own pace. Take a moment to gaze up at the treetops or take a water break at a scenic overlook. 

We recommend hiking a trail like Cathedral Lake. The first mile of the trail meanders through deep Aspen groves that feel especially magical when littered with soft, gold leaves. Within the first hour, you’ll pop out of the trees and get your first glimpse of the high alpine valley with its open meadows and the cascading waterfalls of Castle Creek. From there, it’s a steep climb up a series of switchbacks to the final traverse across open tundra to the alpine lake. Take in the view at 11,888 feet with cathedral-like towers of rock and a lake of deep turquoise blue.

View of Snowmass, CO in FallOther Hikes to See Aspen Fall Colors: 

Smuggler Mountain Overlook – Hike 1.44 miles up Smuggler Mountain Road and take in the views of downtown Aspen, Aspen Mountain, Independence Pass, and the Roaring Fork Valley.

South Rim Trail / Yin Yang – This 2.6-mile hike is located right in Snowmass Village. Trek to the gorgeous viewing area to see Old Snowmass, Mount Daly, and Capitol Peak.

Crater Lake – Drive up to the Maroon Bells and hike up to Crater Lake.  This 1.8-mile hike brings you to the majestic Crater Lake that is surrounded by Aspen’s fourteeners.

East of Aspen Trail – Walk or bike up towards Independence Pass on the East of Aspen Trail along the Roaring Fork River. Stop by the North Star Preserve beach, also known as Stillwater Beach, and take in the views with friends and family.

Aspen Mountain – Every Saturday and Sunday, hike up Aspen Mountain via the Ute Trail to the Sundeck. Enjoy the view of the Castle Creek Valley and the Maroon Creek Valley while you have lunch.

By Bike

Recommendation: The Two Valleys (Also Known as “the Sisters”) 

The Aspen area has many great biking trails, but road cyclists from all over the world come to Aspen to test their legs and lungs on this classic ride that affords some of the most awe-inspiring scenery in the Roaring Fork Valley. Maroon Creek Road and Castle Creek Road are the crown jewels of Aspen’s repertoire of world-class road rides. Both offer unparalleled scenery and very few cars—the hallmark of a perfect ride.

By Car 

Recommendation: Independence Pass to Twin Lakes

Even when the leaves aren’t turning, Independence Pass is one of the most scenic mountain passes in Colorado. In the fall, it’s especially stunning. Begin in downtown Aspen and head up Highway 82 East. Make your way through several Aspen groves that canopy the road between Weller Lake and Lincoln Creek. 

Save the best for last– just before the summit, a panoramic view of the entire valley lets you gaze out over the patchwork quilt of color. Head over to the other side for more jaw-dropping beauty as the road descends on steep, heart-stopping switchbacks before landing in the lush valley.

Our Favorite Leaf Peeping Patios

Pine Creek Cookhouse – Drive or bike up Castle Creek Valley, a beautiful spot known for one of the biggest Aspen groves in Pitkin County. Enjoy high-end American cuisine that features local ingredients while you take in the beautiful views of the Elk Mountain Range on the patio. 

Home Team BBQ – Not only is this BBQ joint a local favorite, it has the best wings in town. Take a moment with the menu and order one of their famous frozen drinks like the “Game Changer.” Then, enjoy the views while sipping a frozen concoction on the patio at the base of Buttermilk Ski Mountain.

Book Your Fall Getaway 

fall aspen homeAre you ready to experience Aspen fall colors? Book your getaway with Aspen Signature Vacation Rentals. Many of our homes are set back amongst the foliage so you’ll get to experience the beauty of autumn firsthand. Browse our exclusive properties and start planning your getaway today!