Top 5 Places for Fall Color in Grand County

Whether it is a long weekend escape to enjoy the mild weather before winter sets in or a long-awaited vacation during the peace and quiet of fall, autumn is a reliably gorgeous time to visit Grand County.

Here, the scenic highlight comes in the form of aspens, cottonwoods and willows, which add dashes of vibrant color to our hillsides and valleys. For the best foliage viewing, we recommend the following spots in the county.

1. Kawuneeche Valley, Rocky Mountain National Park

If you head north out of Grand Lake and enter Rocky Mountain National Park, you immediately enter the scenic Kawuneeche Valley, where golden willows and occasional splashes of aspen decorate the winding headwaters of the Colorado River. Bugling elk, biting trout and the occasional moose make this an ideal spot for wildlife viewing as well.

2. Colorado River Headwaters Scenic and Historic Byway

Recognized as one of Colorado's 25 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 an array of fall color amongst the large cottonwoods that line the stream, as well as in the aspen groves that dot the distant hillsides, particularly around Windy Gap Reservoir.

3. Muddy & Rabbit Ears Passes

The drive to Muddy and Rabbit Ears Passes in western Grand County is sure to be a vacation highlight. After a stop for lunch and a little shopping in the charming town of Kremmling, head northwest on U.S. 40, which passes through beautiful ranchland before climbing to the Continental Divide twice. Along the way, you'll see expansive stands of aspen presenting the whole spectrum of color — from lime green to rich gold. Have an evening picnic at Dumont Lake atop the pass, and keep your eyes peeled for moose.

4. Indian Peaks & James Peak Wilderness

Encompassing the nearly 40-mile-long 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 aspen, a mosaic of red and orange tundra, and views of the colorful valleys from above treeline.

5. Willow Creek Pass

If you're the type who always takes the road less traveled, consider Colorado Highway 125 from Windy Gap Reservoir over Willow Creek Pass to Walden. Perfect for a lazy Sunday cruise any time of year, the route is particularly scenic in fall due to an abundance of aspens along its initial stretch.

Fall Lodging and Activity Specials

Extend your fall foliage experience in Grand County, and stay the night or book a unique fall adventure with one of our activity vendors. This breathtaking change of season only happens for a short period of time each year, so make sure to make the most of your autumn and book your grand fall today. Learn more about fall specials and packages.

Get Inspired & Explore

Trail Ridge Road

The highest continual highway in the United States, Trail Ridge Road reaches a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet. And from all 48 miles the road stretches, you'll have spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park. Whether you embark upon your Trail Ridge Road adventure from Grand Lake or Estes Park, there are some must-see stops you should make along the way.

Read More
11 Reasons to Mountain Bike in Grand County

Need more reasons to come to Grand County to mountain bike? Here are eleven of them: trails and networks that you’ve gotta ride this summer and fall.

Read More
Top Hikes for Wildflower Viewing

Grand County is home to incredible wildflower hikes at every turn, but we have some favorite spots. Take a look at our top wildflower hikes in Grand County and on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Read More