Cooler temperatures. Epic fall colors. Endless adventures. Summer might be on its way out, but it remains an unreal time to hit the open road in the Rocky Mountains. Need some inspiration? We have your back with this list of five cool Colorado fall road trip ideas.
Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway
This 82-mile stretch of highway between Yampa and Meeker in Western Colorado packs quite the scenic punch. From the adventure-filled Flat Tops to the picturesque ranch lands, this drive is well worth the gas money. There’s also plenty to see if you make more than a day of it. Save time for playing on the Yampa River or at the iconic Trappers Lake. There’s a little something for everyone here – whether you’re looking for hiking, camping, off-roading, hunting, or simply getting your fix of fall colors.
If you have time to explore while you’re in Western Colorado, be sure to check out Highway 13 between Meeker and Rifle. This stretch of road holds its own in the way of scenery – and it’s full of adventure. Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap reservoirs are perfect stops to fit in a little fun on the water. If you’re into climbing, then you’ll definitely want to carve out some time on the crag at Rifle Mountain Park, which features more than 200 bolted routes. All three destinations are conveniently located near Highway 13, so you can fit in plenty more awesome adventures on your tour.
Cache la Poudre River Canyon
As Colorado’s only federally designated National Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre River is one of the state’s most impressive sites. The river has carved a sublime canyon, filled with awe-inspiring cliffs and rock formations. Highway 14 follows the river, running through the canyon and delivering unforgettable views.
At 800 square miles, the Grand Mesa is the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. And with so much to do and enjoy, it more than lives up to its name. Boasting over 300 stream-fed alpine lakes and reservoirs, this absolute gem in Colorado’s Western Slope is a dream for fishing and boating. Looking for big trout? Cast out into the emerald waters of Lost Lake. Up for a hike? It doesn’t get better than Crag Crest National Recreation Trail, a 10.3-mile loop that leads you by an epic lake through beautiful forest and meadow trails. And then there’s that view from the top!
Leadville & Twin Lakes
Sitting 10,152 feet above sea level, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in North America, and there’s some high-level adventure to be had here, too. This small but thriving former mining town in the heart of the Rocky Mountains gives you amazing vistas everywhere you look, including stellar views of Colorado’s highest fourteeners, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. From Leadville, head 15 minutes south to explore Twin Lakes, a historic town named for its two glacial lakes, where you’ll find awesome boating and fishing.