We day dream in Fall colors. The white of winter looks like adventure; the green of spring looks like new outdoor opportunity; and the yellow of summer reminds us of sun-soaked mountain livin’. But the deep purple, bright red, and beautiful orange of Fall represent peace, comfort, relaxation and transformation. There’s a perfect leaf-peeping spot in this valley for every occasion and every activity. So we’ve outlined your complete fall guide to viewing all the leaves in Winter Park and the surrounding area.
Where to peep when…
When it’s early Fall:
It seems that the anticipation of fall lingers in the air for quite some time, and then we wake up one day, and the whole world is wrapped in yellow, orange and red. Typically, it starts in late August (the last week or two), and reaches peak color in mid-September. For an up-to-date look at fall foliage, check our Instagram to really know when it all begins. We’re sure to post Insta-worthy tree pics when the season begins. When you see the first one, that’s your cue to get up here ASAP.
When you’re feeling cozy:
When you’re in a quintessential “Fall” mood, and you want nothing more than to snuggle in a thick, knit blanket with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate, the spot you want is Zephyr Mountain Lodge. Book your hygge weekend here in advance to receive a discount, and ask to be in “riverside” if you can. That way you can look out from your window and catch all the colorful aspens on the divide from the comfort and coziness of your room.
When you’re feeling outdoorsy:
The tree-filled hike up to the High Lonesome Hut, and the picturesque views from the hut itself, are just what you’re looking for. Make it a day trip, and head out there early in the morning with lunch and snacks packed to-go. On your way back in the evening, you can stop at Devil’s Thumb Ranch for a meal that still feels like you’re outdoors, but tastes like you’re in a five-star restaurant. Did you know that there’s a great biking trail from here, also? Read about the Strawberry Lake bike from High Lonesome here.
When you’re in the mood for a cruise:
Take a windy drive through the county, catching the absolute best leaf-peeping spots along the way. You know that scene in the movies where the couple has the top down and rolls down a curvy two-lane highway, laughing the whole time? This is that scene. The drive from Winter Park to Grand Lake is nothing short of picture perfect. Take your time and make this a whole day activity, stopping wherever and whenever your heart desires. One stop that should definitely be included: Mustachio’s on the Lake, which offers over-the-lake views of the water and the tree-lined shores. This is the perfect sight-seeing adventure, so set the mood with your best tunes and roll those windows down to let in that crisp mountain air.
When you’re feeling athletic:
A trail run along the Fraser River Trail is the best leaf-filled location to burn off that energy. You can strap on those trail-running shoes and start right from your condo at the resort. Pick up the Fraser River Trail just outside of Old Town, and run until your heart’s content (this entire trail stretches 6 miles). The trees that line either side of the flowing creek make it easy to keep your mind off your burning lungs. Just remember, this isn’t a loop, so what you run out, you have to run back.
When you’re feeling hungry:
Sunspot Lodge is located in the thick of the foliage on the mountain, and you’ll get great views of the valley from the scenic chairlift ride over top the trees to get there. Once you arrive, you can warm up to a real wood-burning fire and sip a hot, spiced cider out of a mug. Then be seated in the dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning views of the valley, and cozy up with a plate of delicious food to fill your belly before the ride back down.
When you’re feeling cold:
Hit the roof-top hot tubs at Fraser’s Crossing / Founder’s Pointe. Book a night at this beautiful location, and it comes with a fancy, roof-top-style lounge area, complete with a fireplace, a grill, and large hot tubs. It’s perfect for a chilly evenings when the temperatures start to drop. You can start by catching the bright colors of the sunset drop over the deep hues of the trees, and then wait for the many stars to come out. You can see the entire milky way from this warm, bubbly water.
When it’s late Fall:
And then it seems the season wraps up almost as quickly as it began. After 3 to 4 weeks of continual change, most leaves have converted to deep red and light brown by late September. But don’t worry if you’ve missed the peak peeping season. The sense and feel of fall are still in the air, ready to be grasped with every sweater-weather cabin trip, every pumpkin-inspired appetizer, and every chance of snow. Visit our upcoming blog “A Fall Guide Beyond Just the Leaves” (coming soon) for more ideas!
Fall is a beautiful and fleeting time of year in the Rockies. Don’t miss out! Catch the spectacular colors this September. Throw more activities into the mix with help from our Top 10 Fall Must Dos in Winter Park!