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Rocky Mountain National Park Series - Finding Fall Colors This Weekend

by Cory Dudley

 

Beginning in late August each year, the aspens in the highest parts of Rocky Mountain National Park embark on their annual transition of 'quaking'; a term use to describe the leave's behavior in the breeze and unique color changing process from green to brilliant golden yellows, oranges and reds. 

 

(Video Credit: Colette Bordelon

 

If you have yet to visit the park during the fall, you must add it to your to-do list! The hues painting the mountainside change with each passing day until mid to late September, accompanied by the elk's rutting season and migration down from the high country. Tourists, photographers and nearly everyone else believes the park is in it's prime during this time of year, though there are certain spots that are recommended above others if you're chasing colors....

 

Hidden Valley

Far from hidden, this popular spot is a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts as a place where elk gather in large numbers, backdropped by fiery colors. There are numerous viewing spots along US 34 on the SE facing hillsides. Have your cameras ready! Elk show up with little warning and you may miss the ideal opportunity if you're not prepared...

 

 

Glacier Gorge Trail

All the way up to Alberta Falls on Glacier Gorge Trail, you'll be snapping pictures and looking on in awe; this hike is a beautiful one. Aspens line the path and fallen leaves float along the creek, welcoming you with a flurry of color. 

 

Bear Lake Road

This road runs parallel to the Glacier Creek and is worth the time it may take to travel all the way to the end. You'll begin at Moraine Park and will want to pull off the road any chance you get because every turn will offer a new and interesting view! If you'd prefer to hike or relax at an overlook, there are many opportunities along the way for that as well. 

 

 

Twin Sisters

Because the trail head is located just outside of the park's boundary (approximately 6 miles from Estes Park), this hike is a favorite for those who prefer a more secluded experience. If you've brought your camera along, be sure to get an early start to the day for the best lighting. 

 

Fairview Curve

About 10,000 feet up on Trail Ridge Road you'll find the Fair Curve and spectacular views of the Mummy Range up to the north. You will have driven through the Kawuneeche Valley to reach this spot, so you can now appreciate the valley's color from above! 

 

 

Kawuneeche Valley

Argued by some as the most beautiful place in the park to photograph, you'll drive through 10 miles of Kawuneeche Valley along Trail Ridge Road between Grand Lake and the Timber Lake trail head. Give yourself ample time for stops on this route because it tends to be more lovely than one expects. 

 

 

 

Evan Scheider's short film showcases the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Breathtaking images are made even more striking with expansive views of falling leaves, stunning pano-shots and miles upon miles of golden treetops.

 

 

 

His video inspires a cozy feeling that can only come with a change in the weather, as autumn chills settle in. Drastic colors pop unexpectedly and in the end, you have soaked up all the feels of fall without even leaving your couch - though we do encourage you to do some cold weather exploring this season!

 

(Video Credit: Evan Schneider)

 

You-Pick Orchards & Farms in Colorado

by Cory Dudley

 

 

You-Pick Orchards and Farms are a fantastic day-outing to plan during September and into October. During September, raspberries, tomatoes, corn, peaches, blueberries and blackberries are all prime for picking in most areas. Some of the farms and orchards are certified organic growers, while others note that they don't use pesticides or use natural growing practices.

No matter what your standards or your produce preferences are, You-Pick locations are both fun and engaging for the whole family. Find one nearest you and plan a visit this month!

 

Berry Patch Farms

Certified Organic (All Crops) - 13785 Potomac St - Brighton, CO 80601

"Pick Your Own" available Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 8am-1pm

Highlights: Flowers & Sunflowers, Pickles & Basil

Due to weather conditions, strawberry and raspberry picking will only be available on Tuesdays and Saturdays, until further notice, at Berry Patch Farms. Any picking allowed on those days will also be minimal (one pint per person).

Current availability at Berry patch Farms include pickles, an abundance of flowers and sunflowers, and seven varieties of basil. They hope to have an early October harvest of strawberries, as long as their fields are not hit too hard with frost.  People are encouraged to bring their children so they can experience an authentic farm and learn more about agriculture processes. They offer several workshops for children, in addition to various seminars for adults!

 

Fruit Basket Orchards

Entirely You-Pick - 253 32 1/2 Road - Grand Junction, CO 81503

Open Friday & Saturday, 9am - 4pm

Highlights: Peaches (almost out!), Nectarines, Plums & Grapes

If you're willing to make the drive to Grand Junction, this is a place not to miss! It is a 7.5 acre farm that is family-owned and operated, and completely you-pick friendly. Because of their diverse collection of crops, their season tends to run longer than others in the state, so you can begin by picking cherries in June and end with apples right before Thanksgiving.

Though they are not certified organic, they do use organic methods whenever possible. All of their fertilizer is organic, and organic products are used exclusively on cherries, plums, grapes and berries.

 

Miller Farms

No Pesticides Used - 13912 CR 19 - Platteville, CO 80651

Fall Harvest Festival, Labor Day - mid November, 9am - 6pm daily

Highlights: Fall Harvest Festival Picking

Their Fall Harvest Festival gives visitors to explore the farm AND pick their own vegetables! Everyone takes a tractor ride to the fields, where you'll stop and pick along the way. All activities and harvest is included in the cost of admission. The 180 acres on this farm contain potatoes, carrots, onions, beers, Indian corn, peppers and pumpkins.

The Fall Tour does require a reservation, so be sure to book early.

 

Rock Creek Farm

2005 South 112th St - Broomfield, CO 80020

Opens Saturday, September 24th - Open daily, 9am - 6:30pm

Highlights: Pumpkins!

Autumn is the perfect time to visit this 120 acre pumpkin patch. Roots run deep here, and finding the perfect pumpkin is done the traditional way - harvested straight from the vine! They'll provide you the cutting shears, too. If you're looking to decorate your whole front yard or porch for the season, they also have cornstalks, straw bales, various colorful gourds and Indian corn..

 

Big B's Orchards

Certified Organic - 39126 Highway 133 - Hotchkiss, CO 81419

Monday - Friday, 8am - 7pm and Weekends 8am - 7pm

Highlights: Honey Crisp Apples, Barlett Pears, Table Grapes (Red & Green), Raspberries, Tomatoes, Basil, Cucumbers, Peppers, Melons

Big B's makes that fantastic apple cider you see in grocery stores. It's a Colorado Proud & organic item, so what's not to love? But there's more to Big B's than that...You can also mosey through their property and orchards finding all sorts of goods! It's family owned and operated, so you can feel good about the long drive it takes to get up to their orchards.

 

4 Fall-Foliage Colorado Drives To Take This Autumn

by Cory Dudley

 

 

The next few weeks offer great views of the changes taking place through Colorado as fall settles in. Though a lot of us are still desperately clinging to the last warm days of summer (especially given these hot temperatures that just won't give up) we are officially on the edge of autumn.

Colorado offers a beautiful, colorful transition into this new season via gorgeous fall foliage displays.  We know that you could walk down your street and likely find some yellowing and maybe even a few orange hues, here and there. But where are the absolute best places to enjoy our state at its most colorful if you have a vehicle, some good company and a bit of time?

 

Conifer to South Park over Kenosha Pass

Distance: 54 miles (one way)

Begin in Conifer and travel along Route 285 traversing Kenosha Pass. End up in Fairplay, which is the largest town in the South Park valley.

 

 

TV and pop culture fans will recognize 'South Park' from the animated series, but anyone who truly knows about the show's background will tell you that the show is based on the writer's experiences growing up in Conifer, not 'South Park.' The entire drive is wide, well maintained and easy navigated. Yellow and red aspen woodlands provide a striking contrast to Douglas firs and ponderosa pines the entire drive up. You'll be rewarded with fantastic views of the Mosquito Range peaks when the pass eventually ends up in the high grassland basin of South Park.

 

Rim Rock Drive through Colorado National Monument

Distance: 23 miles (one way)

Take I-70 to Grand Junction and exit 31 (Horizon Drive). Follow the signs that steer you directly to the monument's east entrance.

 

(Photo Credit: Anasazi Photography)

 

This drive is along a well-maintained paved road, but you'll end up wishing you were trotting along on horseback, complete with a Stetson and spurs. Be sure to check out a statue of Colorado National Monument's most dedicated park ranger, John Otto, which was unveiled in nearby Fruita in 2011. It is super easy to make a weekend of it in the Grand Junction area, so get to planning that itinerary.

 

Nederland to the Fourth of July Trailhead

Distance: 9 miles (one way)

From Ned, drive south on CO 119 for a half mile., then turn right on CR 130 toward Eldora. Follow the road until the pavement ends (isn't that a rock song?) and then continue for another 4 miles to the end of the road. Much of the drive is unpaved and therefor very bumpy, so plan on slow speeds.

 

(Photo Credit

This drive is closer than some of the others, making it appealing for those  who don't have a full day or weekend available. Though the road will be terribly bumpy almost half the trip, you'll be greatly rewarded with beautiful fall colors amidst densely wooded aspen trees. The trail is named for it's tendency to have snow on the ground until Fourth of July, making it a very popular starting point for many hikes.

 

Fall River Road to St. Mary's Alice Glacier

Distance: 9 miles (one way)

Coming from Denver, take I70 west to exit 238 (Fall River Rd.) Follow it for 9 miles to the St. Mary's Alice trailhead. Be careful - the road is very steep and winding, though 4WD vehicles are not required.

 

 

Fall colors burst forth from dense willows and bristlecone pines on this drive. The drive itself is easy to find and convenient, though steep. If you're feeling like a photo op and some exploring, attempt the 1.5-mile hike to the "glacier" and lake. This hike is mostly an uphill climb that takes you to elevations 11,000 feet, so be prepared!

 

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