Experience Fall in the Rockies

Updated September 1, 2022

As the leaves begin to change, our mountain landscape temporarily transforms into a golden glow of Aspens. This fleeting scene contrasts beautifully with the evergreen pines and the occasional early-season dusting of snow. It’s a perfect time to get outdoors and experience fall in the Rockies.

Breckenridge offers many ways to immerse yourself in the incredible transition of fall, before snow starts to fall in earnest and our world turns white.

To see the very most fall foliage in a short amount of time, a scenic drive is a great way to experience fall in The Rockies. Read on to learn about the best leaf-peeping road adventures in the high country in and around Breckenridge.

Boreas Pass - Enjoy panoramic town, mountain and valley views, spectacular clusters of Aspens and tunnels of trees known as Aspen Alley. Three and a half miles up Boreas Pass you will see Bakers Tank on your right. You can park here to hike the Baker's Tank Trail or keep driving to the summit of Boreas Pass. At the 11,493 foot summit of Boreas Pass, an outdoor museum of sorts exists that provides great photo ops and interpretive signs about the history of Boreas Pass. 
Directions: From Breckenridge, follow Main Street to the south end of town towards Alma/Fairplay. Turn left onto Boreas Pass Road. Follow the winding road all the way up to the mountaintop. Alternatively you can stop a short distance up Boreas Pass Road at the free outdoor Sawmill Museum. This is one of the most spectacular spots in Breckenridge to see fall colors. You can meander here for awhile or hike up the Aspen Alley trail which ends at the parking area higher up on Boreas Pass Road. From there you can explore the aspen tunnels and scenic overlooks on foot. 

Top of the Rockies National Scenic Byway - This drive includes expansive views of two iconic Colorado 14ers, Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive, the iconic Green Bridge at Red Cliff, breathtaking fall views on Battle Mountain and one of Colorado's most mysterious and fascinating ghost towns which sits cliffside on Highway 24 in the former town of Gilman, Colorado. The small towns of Leadville, Red Cliff and Minturn are along this route and each one has something unique to offer for locally-owned-and operated dining or shopping. This portion of the Top of the Rockies scenic byway ends after passing through Minturn, but more spectacular colors can be seen while driving through Vail and over Vail Pass back to Breckenridge. 
Directions: There are eastern and western sections of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway. With the eastern being closer to Breckenridge, this is the recommended route:  From Frisco, travel west on I-70 and take Hwy 91/Leadville exit at Copper Mountain. Travel south on Highway 91 over Fremont Pass to Leadville. After arriving in Leadville, go northwest on Hwy 24 towards Red Cliff over Tennessee Pass, on through Minturn where you will meet up with I-70 East. Drive east over Vail Pass to head back to Frisco in Summit County. 

Hoosier Pass – This is one of the highest passes in Colorado—and it’s paved. Fall foliage will dot the mountainsides along the way and you'll pass Quandary Peak, a popular Colorado 14er. Stop at the summit of Hoosier Pass where you will see a Continental Divide sign and parking area on your right. There are trailheads from this parking lot or you can continue the drive over Hoosier Pass to the town of Fairplay. Don't miss the historical district of Fairplay (just a few blocks away from Hwy 9) for shopping, dining and an outdoor museum (admission fee required). 
Directions: Follow Highway 9 South through Breckenridge for approximately 20 miles. Hoosier Pass straddles the line between Summit and Park Counties.

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway – This is a 23-mile route through Pike and Arapaho National Forests linking Georgetown and Grant, Colorado. The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a fun train ride to partake in on arrival to Georgetown before continuing the drive over to Guanella Pass. From Georgetown, about 10 miles of the road is paved, with the remaining 12 miles unpaved. Slower speed is required. Along the way you will be greeted with spectacular views of two Colorado 14ers—Gray’s and Torrey’s Peaks. 
Directions: From Frisco, follow I-70 East to Georgetown. Take exit 228 and drive south to Guanella Pass Road. Upon reaching the town of Grant, take 285 southwest to Fairplay and then Hwy 9 back to Breckenridge. 

Kenosha Pass - Likely one of Colorado's most popular scenic fall drives, especially with easy accessibility for the Front Range of Denver.  The summit of Kenosha Pass reaches 10,000 feet where you'll see a number of nearby hiking and biking trails.  At this time of year, arriving early in the morning to watch the sunrise is a memorable experience. This route can get crowded in the fall so if you can, visit during the week rather than on the weekend.
Directions: Follow Highway 9 through Breckenridge to Fairplay. At Fairplay turn left on to US-285 towards Denver. 

Hoosier, Guanella and Kenosha Passes can be combined into one trip. 

If you're up for even more fall leaf-seeking adventure: 

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway to Aspen:  This route is the western portion of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway. Instead of turning northwest in Leadville (as above), take Hwy 24 south (towards Buena Vista) and then west on Hwy 82. This drive climbs high over Independence Pass and descends into Aspen. 

Kebler Pass:  Kebler Pass is a small section of the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. This is a destination drive and could take 1-2 days depending on how often you want to stop and how far you want to go. Kebler Pass is lined with stands of Aspens for absolutely stunning scenery and is home to the largest Aspen grove in Colorado. The West Elk Loop begins in Carbondale (two hours east of Breckenridge and just south of I-70) and extends south on 133, then east on 12 where you will cross over Kebler Pass before reaching Crested Butte. From the Butte, you can return the way you came, drive northeast back to Breckenridge, or continue onto Gunnison and clockwise around the West Elk Loop. 

Breckenridge also has a few fantastic fall events lined up for even more ways to experience fall in the Rockies. It's a truly amazing time to be here and if you decide you want to stay even longer in a home you can call your own, give us a call! 

Posted by Breckenridge Associates Real Estate on
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