Old Man winter hasn’t come out of hiding just yet, but there is certainly a crispness in the air the lingers past just the cool morning hours. The mountains lose their rainbow wildflower collections but instead gain the golden glow of Aspen leaves. Although the Front Range is still blazing with summer sun, in the mountains Fall is moving in.
The thinning crowds and cooling temps are reminding hikers and scenic chair lifters alike that it Fall is a perfect time to come enjoy Winter Park Resort and all its beautiful views! Not to mention topping off the day with a hot apple cider or a local brew. While no one knows the exact time all the leaves are perfect, it’s being predicted that September 15-29 will be the peak of the color change in our area.
Whether you’re stopping on Berthoud Pass to see the colors, taking the 4×4 road up Corona Pass, or headed to Rocky Mountain National Park to hear the elk bugle, we can’t imagine missing this time of year.
Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Experience the Elk Rut
This time of year is one of the best times to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is famous for the Elk Rut (ie the male elk try to woo their lady counter parts). Which although you can see humans attempt this almost any night of the week at any bar in town, Elk have far more entertaining displays of prowess. From mid-September to mid-October, it’s an unbelievable sight to see hundreds of elk gather and interact in the breathtaking scenery.
While the East side of the park gets packed with people vying for spot to see them, the West side has just as many herds of elk, and fewer herds of people. Make Winter Park your basecamp, and head up to RMNP’s West side for a day. Accoring to Play Winter Park, three of the best spots on the West side of the park to experience elk bugles are:
– Harbison Meadow
– Holzwarth Meadow
– Throughout the Kawuneeche Valley
Make a day of it with a drive over Trail Ridge Road (open until the first big snow), and come back via Fall Ridge Road, a little know scenic dirt road that goes through some of the best scenery in the park.
2. Take a Scenic Chair Lift Ride
On weekends, if you don’t feel up for a hike or want to rejuvenate after one, take the lift up to our mountaintop lodge. You’ll get views of the surrounding mountainsides coming alive with golden and fiery orange from the Aspens. Bring a jacket to really get to enjoy the cool, crisp mountain air.
3. Pick a Trail and Get After It (And by it we mean the fall colors)
Chasing a powder stash can sometimes feel like the work of experts. But come fall, chasing mother nature’s season gifts is easy peasy. You’d have to try hard NOT to end up in the midst of some gorgeous fall foliage. But, if you want a cheat sheet, here’s some of our favorites to get out and enjoy the cool weather. Here’s a full list of great trails, including:
– Meadow Creek Reservoir
– Bottle Peak
– Jim Creek
– Rogers Pass into the James Peak Protection Area
And you can always take a drive back into the Fraser Experimental Forest and choose your own adventure from the dozens of trails just off the road.
4. Scenic Drives
The drive to Winter Park alone will show you beautiful colors, but if you’re looking for even more or want to make a long weekend of exploring the area from the comfort of your adventure vehicle check out these great scenic drives.
6. Treat Yourself
After trekking through the mountains, why not spend some time unwinding at Alpenglow massage in the Winter Park Village. We recommend the Parry Peak Hot Stone Massage for a warm up on those cold fall days. Your muscles will be saying nothing but thank you. Plus, for the month of September, this relaxation therapy is on special.
5. Fly Fishing
Don’t put that tackle box away just yet! Fall is one of the best times to fish in the Fraser River. The fish are getting more aggressive in preparation for the colder months, especially the Brown Trout.
The Browns’ colors are getting more vibrant and their jaws are starting to hook. It’s a great time to get out on the Fraser River and catch a big wild trout – streamers and caddis work great, and if the weather stays fairly warm, terrestrials, especially hoppers, will be a solid pick too. There are also plenty of “hidden gem” creeks to fish, and of course the Colorado River. Fall’s also a great time to rack up those good fishin’ tales to tell fireside come this winter, so cast a line, crack a beer, and no matter what happens, get ready to talk about the biggest Trout you caught all season.
6. Join in One of the Fall Festivals
Summer is always stealing Fall’s thunder when it comes to the reputation for great festivals, but really, Fall in Winter Park is just as lively! Put these dates on your calendar and make your way up for a visit.
Enjoy live music by Hunker Down and Raptors, family fun, inflatables, games, adult fall beverage tasting, silent auction and more!
Sept. 9 Whiskey and Wings Festival
Taste more than 20 whiskeys, and over 10 wings competitors, while enjoying live music.
Sept.16 Summit Assault Race
Feel like working for it? Take a run up Mary Jane, and after 6 miles of gnarly terrain, enjoy your well-earned beer
Sept. 23 Hops & Handlebars
Celebrate all things bikes and beers, with bike competitions, live music and New Belgium beers.
Music, food, family games, and an official welcome to cooler mountain temps.
Chef Josh Bettis’s four-course custom menu will be expertly paired with wine for each course. Sample wines from some of the finest wineries in the country
Sometimes it is hard to let summer go, but with all this excitement coming up, what’s not to love about fall?