Where to See Fall Color in Colorado

St. Elmo Colorado

One of the perks of my “job” is the opportunity to travel, much of it in my home state of Colorado. Every resident of Colorado knows that the best time to be here is late September and early August. the weather is dominated by warm days and cool nights, the scenery is spectacular. Therefore Connie and I make it a habit to travel the state during this time period and soak in the scenery and fall color. I realize that color in other parts of the country is more diverse and spectacular but when you combine the deep blue in contrast to the gold and orange of alpine Aspen trees and the spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains it is time to grab your camera or cell phone and start taking pictures.

Fall Color, St. Elmo Colorado
Blue and Gold Spectacular
St. Elmo Colorado, Fall color
Golden Hillside

Add to this the colorful history of Colorado’s gold rush and you are set for a memorable day. After several years of heading over Boreas Pass (see part 2 of this series) Connie and I decided to shake things up this year. St. Elmo is further from our base in Denver but despite a late start we were able to squeeze in a full day of fun and exploration.

Founded in 1880 as a gold and silver mining operation St. Elmo is one of the best preserved ghost towns in Colorado. Privately owned but protected on the National Register of Historic Places It is a wonderful place to visit.

St. Elmo Colorado, General Store
The St. Elmo General Store

We began our journey heading southwest out of Denver through Bailey and over Kenosha Pass. This is one of the hot spots for Aspen viewing. This year we were a little early and the trees were less then 50% changed. As we continued through South Park we became aware that fall color had not yet reached its peak. Our journey continued through Buena Vista near the Sawatch Range of Mountains and the Collegiate Peaks. About 7 miles south of Buena Vista is sign indicating MT. Princeton Lodge and St. Elmo. Many years ago I inspected hotels for AAA, Mt. Princeton Lodge was in bad shape. I am pleased to report that the resort was now busy and the grounds were greatly improved. I always felt like the place had a ton of potential. The Hot Springs look terrific next time I plan to leave earlier and spend time soaking.

Nearby are the Chalk Cliffs at of Mt. Princeton.

Fall Color, The Chalk Cliffs, St. Elmo Colorado
The Chalk Cliffs

So titled because from a distance they do indeed look like chalk.

Fall Color, Mt. Princeton, Cliffs, St. Elmo Colorado
Mt. Princeton, Cliffs

When taking these pictures I saw several specimens of very white granite that told the real story.

As we continued on the 15 mile climb to St. Elmo we saw a change. Huge stands of Aspen trees began to cover the hillside. The gold color became much more intense. The most striking feature was the size of the individual tree trunks. These were the thickest and tallest Aspen trees I had ever seen. Indicating to me the age of the growth in this area. Not only that but the thick nature of the undergrowth told a story of the large amount of moisture this area must receive. How difficult it must have been to spend Winter here during the 19th century.

Fall Color, St. Elmo Colorado
The Streets of St. Elmo
Fall Color, St Elmo Colorado
Home in St Elmo
Stable and Blacksmith Shop, St. Elmo Colorado
Stable and Blacksmith Shop

For the last several years Connie and I have made it a tradition to take a picture with our furry children. This year was no exception.

Fall color, St. Elmo Colorado
Tree Hugger
Fall color, St. Elmo Colorado
Connie, Phinnie and Maddie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below you will find a map to St. Elmo from the Denver area. There is still time to catch at least some of the color and all of the history.

Have fun!

Map to St. Elmo
Map to St. Elmo