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Travel: Fall color viewing at Colorado State Parks

Fall colors, changing aspen leaves, Colorado

Early fall colors speckle the banks of the Snake River in Summit County, Colorado.

Online guide offers suggested drives and hikes

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Autumn splashes yellow and gold throughout Colorado’s forests and the state parks provide plenty of opportunities within a few hours’ drive of home to enjoy the unique beauty of the season.

Colorado State Parks has a great online guide with suggested viewing areas, including Front Range destinations, excursions to the high country, Colorado’s northern forests, and even a trek through the vineyards around Palisade and the amazing aspen groves on Grand Mesa.

The gold, orange and red hues tinge Colorado’s forests in mid-September at the higher elevations, and expand into the parks at lower elevations by October. Plan a morning stroll, a leisurely drive, a full-day hike with a picnic or a weekend adventure at a Colorado State Park to enjoy the departure of summer.

A swirl of autumn color surrounds an old cabin in the Colorado high country.

Many of the parks offer camping amid the fall brilliance, with opportunities to bike and horseback ride through aspen groves or hike to spectacular viewpoints. Pitch your tent in Golden Gate Canyon State Park’s Aspen Meadow Campground, or park your RV amid the trees and rocky outcrops at Eleven Mile State Park. Stay in a cabin surrounded by aspens at Vega State Park, or enjoy the fall brilliance at Jackson Lake State Park while fishing or picnicking along the lake. See mountain walls of aspen decked out in gold at Sylvan Lake State Park.

Be sure to bring your camera and photograph the fall foliage against diverse backdrops, from various angles and under different lighting. While aspens are the most popular trees for fall colors, do not overlook the beauty of cottonwood trees and Gambel oak. Some favorite picture-taking spots for Colorado State Parks Photographer Frank Weston include:

  • Aspens: Steamboat Lake, Vega, Mueller, Sylvan Lake
  • Gambel Oak: Cheyenne Mountain, Roxborough, Castlewood Canyon
  • Cottonwoods: Barr Lake, St. Vrain, Yampa River

Reserve a campsite, cabin or yurt by calling 1 (800) 678-CAMP or visit:

http://parks.state.co.us/Reservations/Pages/ReservationsHome.aspx.

Find up-to-date information on the changing colors at various parks by visiting our Parks Search page, selecting the Conditions tab, checking the ‘Fall Colors’ box, and searching.

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