Drives for leaf peeping surprise
With colors turning in Grand County, now is the time to get out and peep some leaves.
The aspens are exceptionally golden this year, mixing brilliantly with the evergreen forests. Reds are visible in some parts of the county as well, but the bright yellow aspens will be the highlight of any trip.
This list takes into account current wildfire and coronavirus restrictions, but always follow any posted signs. In no particular order, here are five of the best viewing spots in Grand County.
FRASER EXPERIMENTAL FOREST
The Fraser Experimental Forest is a remarkable place any time of year, but during the fall the low ridgelines just outside Fraser and Winter Park begin shifting from the leafy green of summer to gold and brown in fall. Many of the hillsides are covered with adolescent aspen stands with boughs still very low to the ground.
One of the best drives for checking out the fall foliage is a short route running from County Road 72, running past the Fraser Tubing Hill, up Elk Creek into the Experimental Forest. The road eventually meets up with Forest Service Road that loops back around to Vasquez Road in Winter Park.
Up Highway 40 north of Kremmling, just before the turn to head up Rabbit Ears Pass, is a historic traverse called Muddy Pass.
The western side of Grand County holds some of the largest aspen colonies, especially in the Gore Range, with Muddy Pass highlighted as one of the best. As you reach Muddy Pass take a look to the west toward Baker Mountain.
CORONA PASS ROAD
Just north of Winter Park Resort on Highway 40 you will find a forest service road that peels off to the east into the high country. County Road 80, also called Corona Pass Road, will lead you on a winding route up the slopes of Mount Epworth to the top of the Continental Divide and historic Rollins Pass.
Corona Pass Road is lined in many parts with aspens that hang over the road, creating a sense of driving through a golden tunnel. The road also offers some of the most spectacular views of the Fraser Valley’s fall colors.
Drive high enough up Corona Pass Road and you will be rewarded with a vast perch from which to view the immense network of aspens that dot the hillsides below.
COUNTY ROAD 6
Taking the turn off US Highway 34, the drive along Lake Granby is framed with golden aspens. The hillsides around the lake are decorated with a mosaic of colors, making for a thrilling adventure.
The scenic path is more of an in-and-out drive with the road dead-ending at the Monarch Lake trailhead. Along with the way, you can stop by the lake’s shoreline or go for a brisk fall hike along Monarch Lake or up to Strawberry Lake to be more immersed among the changing leaves.
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