It’s almost that time of year when the leaves start changing, temperatures get a little cooler, and we pull out the flannel & thick socks to stay cozy at night. One of our favorite ways to welcome the change of seasons here in Denver is to drive up into the mountains to view the leaves changing and get a few breaths of that crisp mountain air. All within a few hours’ drive from the front doors of our hotel, here are a few recommendations on where to go!
Boreas Pass, located near Breckenridge, CO, is a stunning hour-long drive through Colorado’s central Rockies, connecting Park and Summit counties. The route was originally created in the 1860s to connect gold mines, then widened to accommodate stage coaches. A railroad was built in 1882 and ran until 1937 when it was made into an automobile pass. Throughout the drive, make sure to have your camera ready for breathtaking views of the Blue River Valley & the Tenmile Mountain Range. If you’re feeling up to it, there are numerous hiking and biking trails off the road. An hour and a half drive along Highway 285 to Como will get you to the beginning of the pass, which drops you right outside of Breckenridge, where we recommend stopping for lunch!
If old mining railroad trains are more your style, jump on the Georgetown Loop Railroad for a tour! Created in the 1870s, the line was originally part of the larger line of the Colorado Central Railroad & was used extensively during the Silver Boom to haul silver ore from the mines in Silver Plume. In between 1893 & 1939, the railroad was used by a few different railway companies to haul passengers, freight & silver through the mountains. In the 1980s, the railway was restored to operate as a tourist railroad still using the steam locomotives. The route today is a 4.5-mile-long loop which ascends 640 feet in elevation through the mountainous terrain, offering spectacular views of the mountains where you feel as if you have stepped back in time where mining was a way of life & the railroad ruled the land. Just an hour drive from our doors, this is a great afternoon outing that you’re sure to remember.
Aptly named, the Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers breathtaking views of the golden hillsides during the fall. With 12,000 acres of forest full of rocky peaks & aspen groves, there is no shortage of nature. Established in 1960, the park has campgrounds, picnic areas & 36 miles of hiking for you & a four-legged friend. A popular spot is the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook where you can see 100 miles of the Continental Divide. With stocked fishing ponds, wildlife, & hikes for all skill levels, Golden Gate Canyon State Park is at the top of our list. Don’t forget to check out the town of Golden as well, home to the Coors Brewery, great restaurants & shops. Only 45 minutes from the Magnolia Hotel Denver, this makes visiting Golden Gate Canyon State Park an easy afternoon affair.
Rocky Mountain National Park undoubtedly lives up to its reputation. There are 415 square miles of preserved land, full of beautiful scenery & wildlife. The park was established in 1915 following a policy to control the national government land areas of scenic beauty and historic worth in the American West. Leaves begin to change color in Rocky Mountain National Park in the high country in late August. Throughout September, the leaves change color gradually at lower elevations of the park. Elk also trek down to the lower regions to find a mate for the winter. Bear Lake & the Twin Sisters trail are highly recommended spots. Entrance fee to the park is $30, however a year pass is only $70, so if you plan to visit this park or any other national parks around the country, the year pass is a bargain! About an hour and a half drive from the hotel, we recommend a day trip for this one, stopping in Estes Park or Boulder for some more exploring.
If you are up for a drive, Peak to Peak Highway, a designated Scenic Byway, will not disappoint. A 55-mile road connecting Estes Park to Black Hawk, the Peak to Peak Highway feels like a step back in time. A few ghost towns are accessible from the byway with remnants of the silver & gold mining days. On weekends, your little prospectors can still dredge for golden flakes in the creeks in hopes of striking it rich! The byway gives a beautiful, close-up view of the Continental Divide with its stunning quilt of yellows, oranges, reds & greens in the fall. Estes Park is home to the famous Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration for his novel “The Shining,” as well as herds of elk in the fall who come down to mate. Start the drive in Estes Park, about an hour and a half from the hotel, and come back down on the Peak to Peak Highway, through Nederland, which used to service the Caribou Silver Mine. Continue your drive through Boulder before heading back to Denver for a day of sightseeing along the Front Range.
In preparation for your fall adventures, book your stay today!