Travel: Three Don't-Miss Fall Drives

October 2012

The early snow may have hastened the end of fall's color show, but here are three scenic drives where you might still be able to catch a glimpse of the Centennial State's fall splendor. 

1. Lookout Mountain: Funds were tight after a cross-country move to Denver, so for a good time on the cheap, I'd often grab a couple of friends and head to Golden's Lookout Mountain. Go on a weekend, and you're almost guaranteed to see several hang gliders navigating the air currents on the side of the foothill. If you feel like stretching your legs, hop out at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve, which offers 110 acres of easy hiking trails and panoramic views of Denver (including lots of glittery aspen trees). 

2. Collegiate Peaks Byway: You will see lots of fall colors, but this 57-mile stretch is good for more than leaf-peeping. Paralleling the Continental Divide, the majority of the route (running from Granite south to Salida) follows the Arkansas River and winds past national forest, high-altitude ranches, and hot springs. The area boats the highest concentration of fourteeners in the country, so make sure the camera has plenty of juice. You'll definitely want to stop and snap a few pics. 

3. Highway 17 to the New Mexico border: Hop on Highway 17 in Antonito (south of Alamosa). Wind up the Conejos River Valley where ponderosa forests eventually give way to the white trunks of aspens. Some of the tallest and oldest aspens in the state can be seen near La Manga Pass. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Digital Assistant Editor Davina van Buren on Twitter at @davinavanburen