View Full Version : Fall color trek

Joseph Dickerson
26-Aug-2009, 16:37
Hi All. Next fall (2010) I'll be taking the semester off from the college teaching gig and chasing fall color.

I'm looking for suggestions as to locations in the west and possible routing to maximize the possibilities. We travel by 4x4 van so the possibility of a bit of snow is not an issue. Some day we'll do the same thing in New England, but not this time.

Plan to leave late August or early September and return to Central Califonia around Thanksgiving.

I assume that working North to South makes the most sense but we're extremely flexible.


Joe Dickerson

26-Aug-2009, 18:23
If you want aspens, it seems like many of the best shots I've seen are from the Boulder Mountain area in Utah, which I believe is between the Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase Nat Monuments. Zion might be nice around that time.

Oh yeah, the area around Ridgeway, CO has nice aspens as well, I believe (Mount Sneffels area?)

Since I WON"T be taking the term off, I'll be sticking closer to home!

Robert Oliver
26-Aug-2009, 20:26
Rocky Mountain National Park..... has some neat pockets of color in the fall. Might be really colorful with the red from the millions of damaged pines we saw in the park a couple of weeks ago.

btw... still waiting to see some pics from Canada eh.... or are you having trouble getting your pictures done because you brought back too much double chocolate stout and back bacon!!!


26-Aug-2009, 20:29
Highway 550 from Durango to Silverton has many long vistas of aspen covered hillsides. Cumbres Pass from Chama New Mexico to Antonito Colorado (You don't have to take the Train) Just about anywhere in Southern Colorado was pretty good last year. Here in Pagosa Springs we take the Plumtaw road which takes us right into the Aspens.

Ken Kapinski
27-Aug-2009, 18:34
Another vote for the SW corner of Colorado, Ouray-Durango area. Also, highway 70 between Baggs and Encampment Wyoming has some splendid fall colors.


28-Aug-2009, 09:19
Your California portion, depending on where you are at. There might be a shred of color in the foothills in late November. Otherwise I'd check the coastal creeks in San Mateo County which should have color by that date.

28-Aug-2009, 10:27
Another vote for SW Colorado. Last week in September, first week or two in Ocotober. I was there about the 10th of October. As I remember, that seemed like past prime time. Still decent but not perfect. That's also the beginnnig of hunting season.

The larch in the Canadian Rockies is also a distinct possibility. Different from aspen.

28-Aug-2009, 13:56
Colorado's aspen color moves mostly from north to south over the period from about September 21 through October 7th. Usually after that time a big storm will come through wipe out what's left of the leave. I would guess that the fall color in Grand Teton's comes a bit earlier. Aspens are in the high country but there is also fall color in the low lands and canyons in the form of grasses, cottonwoods, vine maples, box elders, scrub oak and a number of other plants. This all comes on a bit later starting around October 4th and can go through October 15th or 20th. Southern Utah has a bit later color season with Zion peaking at the end of October or early November.

28-Aug-2009, 14:34
Actually, I think I was in the San Juan mountians closer to October 1. That fits the timetable above.

falth j
29-Aug-2009, 04:20
Although aspens are nice for awhile, nothing beats a forest of mixed hardwoods and conifers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan starting as early as midway through September, on your way to New England.

John Kasaian
29-Aug-2009, 08:18
Another area to consider is the Enchanted Circle in New Mexico---Taos, Eagle Lake, Purgatory. It's on your way back from Colorado.

2-Sep-2009, 12:04
Although aspens are nice for awhile, nothing beats a forest of mixed hardwoods and conifers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan starting as early as midway through September, on your way to New England.

I agree after living in Maryland, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania the colors in the east are just on a whole other level as the color in the west. If you are going to take off several months to do this I would much rather do it in the east than out west.

Start off in Maine and work your way south through the rest of New England, spend a lot of time in the Adirondaks in NY, and the Endless Mountain areas of PA. They are not nearly as crowded as a lot of the VT and NH hotspots but just as nice. Then head over RT 6 in PA through the Allegheney Mountains until you get to Lake Erie. There are a lot of nice areas along Lake Erie in NW PA and SW NY where you get great color as well as lake views.

Then you can head down I-79 into West Virginia for more great color, Blackwater Falls in WV is amazing in the fall, then head over to Virginia for Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway down into NC or KY. If Skyline Drive is to crowded head down through the valley to the west and up on the next set of ridges. Rt 33 in Virginia is an amazing drive

2-Sep-2009, 12:47
The West is great for many things but a few yellow aspens is hardly fall color. Check out the midwest which is not so great for landscapes but has great fall color. Someone mentioned the upper peninsula. You could start there and work south as the days pass. One of the best places for mixed hardwood forest, hilly terrain, and fall color is Brown County State Park in southern Indiana near Nashville. I found this website with so-so photos but you get the idea:


Donald Miller
2-Sep-2009, 16:14
If you don't want to travel to the east coast on this trip and want a wider pallete then aspens you might consider the Ozarks of Missouri. The colors there should begin turning after the aspens of Colorado. There are some outstanding aspen stands on McClure Pass SW of Marble, Colorado. I do agree with Jerold that aspens, while nice, are not as photogenic as hardwoods.