Even though we’re still in the heat of August right now, there is a sense in the air that fall is right around the corner. Living in Colorado, it isn’t a surprise that we’re avid hikers and there isn’t a more picturesque time of year to be in the mountains than during the fall when the leaves are changing and temperatures are falling. Although the weekends can be crowded as people from the cities head into the mountains for a day to view the Aspens as they turn to gold, it is actually off season in the resort towns and a perfect time to spend a few days surrounded by some the most beautiful scenery in the country. Each town or resort provides its own unique opportunity to view the natural beauty of forests as the leaves change as well as places to stay and restaurants to eat.
One of our first memories of getting into the mountains during the fall was when we went to Estes Park and stayed at the Stanley Hotel. Estes Park is a beautiful little town that is right outside of Rocky National Park, which is the Yellowstone of Colorado. At the time, the Stanley Hotel was a five star hotel that was proud of its heritage of having hosted many presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, and of its original owner who was the inventor of the Stanley Steamer. Nowadays, after appearing on an episode of Ghost Hunters, they are all about the Shining and the ghosts that may inhabit the property. Oddly enough, we actually stayed in the same room that Stephen King stayed in when he wrote the Shining, which made our stay even more special.
We’ve also stayed in Breckenridge and Vail during the fall and they are both wonderful places to stay, but our favorite place to go is to Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek has a feel of exclusivity without being pricey. The center of the resort has an ice skating rink with shops and restaurants all around. There a plenty of places to sit outside and watch the sun set over the mountains, all with fire pits or heaters to keep you warm as it can get fairly cold at night. Hiking up the mountain can be quite strenuous, but the views that you are rewarded with are well worth the effort.
In addition to hiking, there a lots of small little towns with plenty of history. Towns such as Minturn, Georgetown, or Leadville make for perfect excursions from wherever you’re staying. We have fond memories of going to Minturn and having lunch in a saloon that boasts that Jesse James used to frequent the place. In addition to the historic towns, there are also a few ghost towns in Colorado, such as the ones near Cripple Creek and Leadville.
Regardless of where you stay, getting into the mountains of Colorado during the fall will leave you with images that will last a lifetime. Whether going to Aspen and hiking the Maroon Bells, going to Winter Park where the college students love to frequent, or going to a resort such as Beaver Creek, you will enjoy getting away from the crowds while the locals prepare for the oncoming ski season. As with any time travelling into the mountains, there can be a chance of snow, but generally speaking the chance of perfect weather far outweighs the chance for inclement weather. Even if it does snow, it will just add to the beauty of the mountains. So, despite the lack of proper grammar, the old mining saying is still true that “there is gold in them there hills”.