Six Ways to Explore Western Colorado's Breathtaking Fall Foliage

Temperatures will soon begin to drop as summer comes to end in Western Colorado and the Grand Junction region eagerly anticipates the splendor of colors as the season transitions. There are plenty of leaf peeping opportunities and activities to enjoy, ranging from the spectacular Colorado National Monument to the Colorado River Trails and the majestic Grand Mesa. 

1) Bike ride The Audubon Section of the River Front Trails for perfect viewing of the changing colorful landscape.  The Audubon section is 1.4 miles of the 30 mile flat, mostly paved trail and takes you alongside the Colorado River beneath a canopy of trees.  It is also a tranquil setting for bird watching and spying many other species of wildlife near the Colorado River.

2) The Grand Mesa provides a majestic view of the landscape and is ideal for photographers savoring the moment digitally and on film.  With over 300 lakes, the world’s largest flat-top mountain is the perfect location to see the aspen trees transform. Don’t miss Color Weekend at Powderhorn Mountain Resort, September 28-30.

3) The small community of Glade Park, located near the Colorado National Monument, offers a variety of landscapes including the potholes, several deep pools of water originating from the Little Dolores River that flow into an area of rock crevices. Known by many locals as a popular swimming hole, the potholes are particularly picturesque when surrounded by fall foliage accompanied by the soothing sound of waterfalls and running water. If you do choose to swim or jump into the potholes, please use extreme caution.

Directions: From Glade Park, Colorado, travel west on DS Road. Then make a left (south) on 9 8/10 Road. Past the Miracle Rock Trailhead, continue for about a mile and make a right at the dirt road entrance. Then proceed to the creek. 

4) Wine tasting at any of the 23 wineries located throughout Colorado’s Wine Country is enjoyable any time of year, but making it extra special during the fall is the opportunity to capture some grape harvest photos. Harvest season in the vineyards begins mid-September and usually lasts until the first part of October.

5) Drive Across Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument located just west of Grand Junction to enjoy brilliantly colored fall foliage in shades of red, orange and yellow set against 20,000 acres of vibrant reddish sandstone canyons and mesas rising above the Colorado River. The 23-mile Rim Rock Drive is open to both motorists and cyclists and provides plenty of scenic overlooks with incredible panoramic views.


6) Special events taking place in the Fall of 2018 surrounding Grand Junction, Colorado

    • 09/15:  Tour de Vineyards bike ride - A 25 mile ride through wine country that marks the beginning of Fall
    • 09/13-16: Colorado Mountain Winefest - Colorado’s largest wine festival celebrating the harvest in heart of Palisade!
    • 09/21-23: Fruita Fall Festival (102nd Annual) - Friday thru Sunday, the Fruita Fall Festival began just over a century ago as a celebration of the harvest for the farming community in the town of Fruita
    • 09/30: Color Sunday at Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Food, live music, and fall leaf peeping with some of the best views of fall colors on the Grand Mesa

Photo credit: Beverly Zuerlein, Moon & Back Photography