ASPEN, Colo. - This week on Wonders of the Western Slope, we conclude a series of pieces on Colorado's best fall drives...
When it comes to Colorado's fall colors, it's hard not to think of the aspen. And what better place to see the aspen than the tree's namesake city? Valleys filled with aspen radiate like spokes from of a wheel and the city of Aspen is the hub.
There, I met up with Maureen Poschman, spokesperson for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and she explained the best places to go.
“Some of my favorite places are Hunter Creek Valley and Red Mountain. Also, Capitol Lake. Any of the hikes up Independence Pass and Castle Creek is one of the most beautiful roads that you will ever see, some really incredible aspen groves.”
So, I took her advice and rode up Castle Creek, finding it difficult not to pull off the road every two minutes to take pictures. The road winds in and out of aspen gfoves, highlighted by glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of the Elk Mountains.
Next, I drove up Colorado 82 to Independence Pass, again struggling with the urge to sit there all day, taking in the view.
I took my longest pause at a placed called the Grottos and took a walk through the trees.
These are just two of the many drives you can take out of Aspen. Of course, we can't forget the Maroon Bells.
“One of the most iconic places to see the leaves in Aspen is the Maroon Bells, which is the most photographed site in Colorado and there are incredible aspen groves there and you have the snowy peaks of the Maroon Bells in September and October," said Poschman.
The city of Aspen itself is filled with trees.
“When people hear the name Aspen, they think it’s a huge destination but it really is a tiny downtown that you can easily walk around and the leaves and flowers in town during the fall are gorgeous.”
The proximity of the city to all of this fall color benefits not only the visitors but the city itself.
“It’s very strong for tourism. The locals love it and one of the great things for visitors are amazing deals at the restaurants and the hotels and also great sales at the shops. So, I would say that anyone who’s looking for a good value, the Fall season is a great time to come," said Poschman.
“I would definitely agree that the aspen trees of Colorado and Aspen in specific are Wonders of Colorado and I think they’re not as well known as New England and some other iconic areas for the fall, and so people should discover it. I think the nice thing is you have the aspen trees because they grow in families, they might be green up above and five or ten different shades of gold. And so it’s really not just one color, it’s a multitude.”
Note: At the time of this article, the Maroon Bells campgrounds and views are blocked off due to the government shutdown.
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