In the year 1858, a gold discovery in Colorado started the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. But for this time of year, it is another type of gold that peaks the interest for travel in Colorado. With autumn upon us, Colorado is beautifully transformed into a showcase of dazzling colors, with Colorado's signature gold Aspen trees as the main act. But how to choose with so many beautiful locations to visit in such a short time span? Here are the top five ways to find the gold, as recommended by the state of Colorado.
Located in Gunnison, Kebler Pass has North America's largest aspen grove. Ohio Creek Road is a great starting point. It passes many natural landscapes, including the spires of The Castles and a series of structures that make up the site of Castleton. There are also remnants of mud and volcanic ash that erupted from the West Elk Volcano 30 million years ago. The only precaution is that roads are unpaved and can be treacherous, depending on the weather.
The San Juan Skyway
The San Juan Skyway, a stunning 236-mile loop through the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, offers visitors an amazing array of fall colors and includes a 70-mile stretch known simply known as the Million Dollar Highway. You can also catch a ride on The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. They offer train rides that will take you right through the fall foliage. And if you are truly feeling brave, get up close and personal with a zip line experience!
Trail Ridge Road
One of the best and most popular scenic drives in Colorado is Trail Ridge Road. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in North America, with more than eight miles above 11,000 feet and a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet. It crosses through Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road offers amazing vantage points for views and photographers.
Telluride's Free Gondola
Telluride's Free Gondola is one of the town's most popular ways to view its amazing fall colors. The views from above include the beautiful town, the canyon and the valleys – all lined with aspens and evergreens. For yet another way to see Telluride's foliage, several trail heads are located right in town. You can also hike the Jud Wiebe Trail, a three-mile trail that works its way through large aspen groves and passes by Comet Falls. Best of all, it's free!
Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway
Don't want to get out of the car? Then the Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway is for you. Established in 1918, the byway starts in the city of Boulder and offers unparalleled views of the Continental Divide and all its fall glory. Though the byway is less than 60 miles in length, there are numerous stop-off points along the route, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Golden Gate Canyon State Park and both the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Make sure you have your camera along for this road trip!
These are just a sampling of the riches that await your viewing pleasure. Fall foliage in "Colorful Colorado" is breathtaking and the backdrop of the mountains is a proud display of Mother Nature's finest work. Safe travels!