Scenic Drives Colorado Springs

Scenic-Drives-Colorado-Springs

Scenic Drives in Colorado Springs to See Colorful Autumn Trees

Does the hint of fall in the air have you itching to take a scenic drive in Colorado Springs and parts beyond when the leaves begin to change for autumn. Colorado is most famous for its aspens, which paint the hills in vibrant shades of gold in fall. It’s probably not the gold rush that the prospectors of old wanted to discover, but it’s pretty nice for us modern folks (to be fair, we’d all probably love some real gold, too).

As you’ll notice during your drive, aspens are not the only thing colorful Colorado has to offer in autumn. This stunning state has shades of orange and red, not to mention the colors of the last few wildflowers that dot the hillsides before winter. In short, be ready to watch Mother Nature put on a grand show.

We’ve broken these scenic Colorado drives down by distance from central Colorado Springs (downtown). You can pick between a short gas-sipper of a journey or a longer road trip, depending on what you prefer. We’ve also included the best time to check out the leaves so you don’t miss out. Let’s check out some of the best places for leaf peeping in Colorado!

Palmer Park

5 miles from Central Colorado Springs | Early October

Palmer Park is the shortest scenic drive on this list, as you can only do a short loop through the park. It also isn’t home to many of Colorado Springs’ aspen trees (the official tree for obsessing over fall in Colorado). What it is home to, however, is a plentiful amount of radiant foliage that paints the park with orange, red and yellow beginning at the very end of September and through October. It’s a great place to check out unique fall colors in Colorado Springs.

Even better, Palmer Park has a lot of features that make it a fun family destination, too. There’s a playground, ample hiking and even a dog park (be sure to check out our list for traveling with your companion pet). You can take a drive through the park to the top and get a grand view of Colorado Springs in all its glory and then head back down the hill to play on the swings, hike or let the pupper out for a run. The easiest way to reach it is not using Palmer Park Boulevard. That would make too much sense. Instead, you can find the main entrance off of Maizeland Road and Academy Boulevard.

Pikes Peak Scenic Highway

10 miles to gate from central Colorado Springs, 19.5 Miles to the Summit | Early October
If you take the Pikes Peak Scenic Highway, you won’t just see fall leaves in Colorado Springs, you’ll see them across the entire state. The summit of this world-famous fourteener allows you to see the majestic Rocky Mountains and up to five states on a clear day, making it the best leaf peeping in Colorado. After all, what could possibly be better than viewing every tree, all at once?

Take Highway 24 west of Colorado Springs until you see the signs for the turn to Pikes Peak. You need to make reservations in advance for a timed entry slot through the end of September. The Peak also recently opened its dawn time slots, so if you’re feeling super ambitious, you can combine golden trees with a splashy sunrise. The Pikes Peak Highway has lots of places to stop and take photos or hike, and the brand-new Summit House has hot and fresh donuts all day long. We’ve heard donuts don’t have calories at 14,115 feet above sea level. Do what you want with that suspiciously convenient information.

Gold Camp Road

20 miles to Road from Central Colorado Springs | Early October
Gold Camp Road is a more precarious way to check out fall in Colorado Springs and one of the closer destinations for checking out those famous golden aspen leaves in Colorado. You take West Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard to Old Stage Road to begin the drive. It is a dirt road with lots of potholes and washboard, so it’s not really recommended for smaller cars – you’ll probably have to pay us a visit if you head up in a Fiat, for example. We recommend AWD/4WD and you’ll still need to watch your tires, rims, and brakes as you drive.

Leaf viewing and scenic viewing in general can be found all along the route. Some folks claim the road gets spooky after dark and local teens have passed down the urban legend that the tunnels are haunted for decades. Visiting those tunnels around Halloween is one of the more popular fall activities in Colorado Springs. Don’t worry though, you can’t see the leaves at night, so you should be home safe before you can test that theory for yourself.

Cripple Creek and Victor/Mueller State Park

45 miles from Central Colorado Springs | Late September through Early October
Located just 45 miles west of Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek offers a fun destination with an incredible autumn odyssey in the mountain passes along the way. Take Highway 67 out of Divide and enjoy an excursion you will revisit year after year. Golden aspens fill the hillsides and there are lots of places to stop and snap photos. Along the way, you’ll also find Mueller State Park, which has 5,000 acres for some of the best leaf peeping hikes in Colorado. In Cripple Creek proper, you can try to get a little gold of your own from one of the slot machines (although you’ll probably end up like many of the early prospectors – empty-handed).

Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway

45 miles from Central Colorado Springs | Late September through Early October
Although this drive literally begins in Cripple Creek (or Victor, depending on your direction), the Gold Belt Scenic Byway is worth its own highlight. Most locals make a lot of dad jokes about the road being named “Gold” for the aspens (it’s us, we’re making the jokes). Once you start your journey, you’ll probably agree. It’s also a pretty cool drive for reasons beyond the golden hills. You get to enjoy mountain views of Colorado aspen trees and see historic mining encampments and structures from the days when people came to the region to seek out their fortune. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue beyond Victor and check out the famous Phantom Canyon Road (we have a fantastic restaurant here in Colorado Springs that’s named after the route). You can plan your trip with this handy map.

We hope you’ll love exploring Colorado Springs in fall, as well as all the other destinations to see autumn foliage and golden aspen trees in Colorado. Before you go, be sure to stop by Honest Accurate for an inspection before those longer, high-elevation road trips. And remember, fall means that winter will be here before you know it, so it’s time to start thinking about switching to winter tires and checking your car battery. We’ll be here to help (we save our leaf peeping for our days off).

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