Where to See Fall Color in Colorado: Leaf Peeping Grand County
Whether it is a long weekend escape to enjoy the mild weather before winter or a long-awaited vacation during the peace and quiet of fall, autumn is a reliably gorgeous time to visit Grand County. Here, the season’s highlight comes in the form of aspens, cottonwoods and willows. These stands of trees add dashes of vibrant color to our sloping hillsides and mountain-carved valleys. For the best leaf peeping in Colorado, we recommend the following spots in the county.
Where to See the Fall Colors in Colorado
- Colorado River Headwaters Scenic & Historic Byway
- Muddy & Rabbit Ears Passes
- Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness
- Scenic Gondola & Chairlift Rides
- Shadow Mountain Lake
1. Colorado River Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway
Recognized as one of Colorado's 26 Scenic & Historic Byways, the Colorado River Headwaters Scenic and Historic route follows the mighty river from State Bridge to its source in Rocky Mountain National Park. In Grand County, the section from Kremmling to Granby offers a painter’s pallet of brilliant fall color among large cottonwoods that line the stream, as well as aspen groves that dot distant hillsides, particularly around Windy Gap Reservoir.
2. Muddy & Rabbit Ears Passes
The drive to Muddy and Rabbit Ears Passes in western Grand County is sure to be a vacation highlight. Stop for lunch in Kremmling at The Dean West Restaurant and Brewstillery for the Carnegie, a roasted turkey sandwich with tangy cranberry mayo, pickled onions and swiss, all piled high on toasted sourdough. After a little shopping in town (there are always fun finds at Last Time ‘Round Thrift Shop), head northwest on US Route 40, which passes through big-sky ranchland before climbing to the Continental Divide twice. Along the way, you'll see expansive groves of shaking aspens presenting the whole spectrum of color — from green to glowing gold. Pack an evening picnic and trek to Dumont Lake atop the pass and keep your eyes peeled for moose.
3. Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness
Encompassing the nearly 40-mile chain of 12,000-foot mountains that stretch south from Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness Areas offer hikers dozens of alpine trails to explore. The payoff in fall? Pockets of fiery aspen, a mosaic of red and orange tundra, and views of the colorful valleys from above the treeline. We recommend the Diamond Lake hike that leads you all the way to the titular body of water. On a still day, it reflects the bright harvest hues of the trees.
4. Scenic Gondola & Chairlift Rides
Take in an aerial view of the honey leaves as you soar high above the treetops on a scenic gondola or chairlift ride. You can take to the skies on the Granby Ranch chairlift for an unbeatable sight of the roaring Fraser River lined with topaz tapestries. Or embark on an enclosed gondola ride at Winter Park Resort for front-row views of the Continental Divide from 10,700 feet, where you may even see winter peeking out at the top of snowcapped mountains.
5. Shadow Mountain Lake
With the dramatic peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the background, Shadow Mountain Lake is a high-elevation reservoir offering chromatic fall-color views and plenty of outdoor activities like boating, fishing and lakeside picnics. This is one of the best places to see aspens right near town. For a truly stunning afternoon adventure, get on the water to enjoy the fall foliage from a rental pontoon, paddleboard or kayak from Trail Ridge Marina.
Fall Lodging and Activity Specials
Extend your fall-foliage experience in Grand County, and stay the night at a woodsy lakeside lodge. Or book a unique autumn adventure to see the season like you’ve never seen it before. This breathtaking change of season only happens for a short period of time each year, so make sure to visit one of these top places to see fall color in Colorado before the trees become bare. Learn more about specials and packages.
Discover More Fall Activities in Colorado
Looking for more fall foliage in Colorado? Get additional autumn activity recommendations with these resources: