During the colder September nights, the aspen trees in the Colorado high country, including those in Aspen and Snowmass, lose their vibrant green to take on a golden hue. These gorgeously golden stands of aspen groves attract leaf peepers from all over the state and country, as set before a mountainous back drop, the landscape is nothing short of stunning.
Peak viewing times for aspen fall colors are anywhere between the middle of September to mid-October. When visiting the Aspen and Snowmass area for fall foliage viewing, there are a number of areas that provide optimal views.
The Maroon Bells Recreation Area is undoubtedly one of the most popular areas for viewing the turning aspen trees. The Maroon Bells are two 14,000' peaks located in the White River National Forest. Framing these two enormous peaks is a crystal clear alpine lake and groves of golden aspen trees.
During September week days, Maroon Creek Road up to the Maroon Bells Recreation Area is open, and vehicles pay a small forest service fee to access the area. On the weekends, the road to the Maroon Bells is closed to vehicular traffic. Instead, visitors can take an educational bus tour to the Maroon Bells.
Whether driving or taking the bus, one of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy the Maroon Bells area is to take a walk around Maroon Lake. Make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lake's shore, and bring along a camera to capture the day's highlights.
If you are looking for more of a hike, the Crater Lake Trail is a moderate, four mile round trip trail. During the peak of the aspen fall colors, yellow aspen leaves cling to the trees and blanket the forest floor, completely enveloping hikers in a bright yellow environment. Upon arriving at Crater Lake, hikers have an even closer view of the Maroon Bells.
Aspen hiking trails with great views of the aspen fall colors include Buttermilk Mountain and Aspen Mountain. Either hike up the jeep trail that winds up the main part of Buttermilk Mountain, or take the trail on the Tiehack side of Buttermilk. Whichever trail you choose, you are sure to find stretches of aspen groves that truly light up with brilliant color.
On Aspen Mountain, take either the Summer Road or the Ute Trail to the top of the mountain. From there, soak in all of the turning foliage in the entire Roaring Fork Valley. Look north to Smuggler Mountain and Hunter Valley, look west to Mount Sopris, and look south at the changing colors on Aspen Highlands Mountain. The Aspen Mountain Silver Queen Gondola runs on the weekends through early October, affording those with heavy camera equipment the opportunity to capture the spectacular mountain scenery.
Hiking trails in Snowmass with great views of turning fall foliage include the Ditch Trail and the East Snowmass Creek Trail. Located just outside of the Snowmass Village Mall, the Ditch Trail is a short and easy hike through aspen trees. For a longer hike, follow the Ditch Trail to where it meets with the East Snowmass Creek Trail. From there, continue on the East Snowmass Creek Trail as it winds alongside the creek through evergreen and aspen trees.
For your next leaf peeping adventure in Aspen, plan a stay at the Aspen Square Condominium Hotel with a convenient location in downtown Aspen near the Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain. The Aspen Square Hotel specializes in comfortable and beautifully decorated Aspen condos. When staying at the Aspen Square Hotel during leaf peeping season, enjoy luxury hotel services, including bell service, concierge, and more.
For assistance with planning a fall vacation to Aspen, our guests can contact an Aspen Square Hotel reservations agent by calling 1-800-470-0530. Non-guests can contact the Aspen Chamber Resort Association by calling (970) 925-1940.