Colorado High Country
Fall colors peak in the Colorado high country
Article and photos by Liz Jurkowski
The aspen trees are beautiful between Georgetown and Grant, through Guanella Pass. Cars line the side of the road, with people jumping out to take photos of the fall foliage.
There is not a prettier place than the Colorado mountains at the beginning of fall every year. While the local media and television news are reporting that the peak of the leaves changing color has already passed, there is still time to see the beauty of the season.
Take a drive to Georgetown, the charming Victorian town just off of Interstate-70 at Exit 228. Travel down the main street, and then turn right on FR 381, Guanella Pass Road. The now- paved eleven mile drive from Georgetown to the Mount Bierstadt trailhead is filled with a rainbow of colors.
Every switchback on the scenic road up the mountain provides dramatic vistas in all directions. Not only are the aspen trees at their zenith of color in early October, but the bright red of the changing willows mixed with the emerald greens of the spruce and pine trees make for a beautiful photo to add to your annual holiday card.
There is a parking lot at the top of the pass. This point is above tree line, at more than 11,600 feet and the vegetation is low lying scrub. Different than the forest below on the drive up, the view is still pretty with Mt. Bierstadt and the peak of Mt. Evans towering over the high meadow.
Take your time descending the road back to Georgetown, or continue on FR 381 to Grant. If returning to Georgetown, complete your day trip by shopping for antiques, finding unique 150-year old homes and buildings, or having a hearty lunch or homemade ice cream downtown.
Guanella Pass Road is one of the few mountain passes that is open year-round, despite its high elevation. While its scenery is at its best in the early fall because of the changing color of the leaves, the pass is accessible and maintained in the winter as well, providing yet more opportunity for photographers to take in more of Colorado’s beauty.
The scenery is spectacular at the trailhead for Mt. Bierstadt.