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Fall is a fabulous time to be in Colorado, with frequent bright blue skies, crisp air and countless fall festivals to enjoy. If you’ll be in the Rocky Mountain State in autumn, here are some of the most memorable things you can do while you’re there.
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Go Apple Picking
Like apples? Fall is apple season, and whether you like them sliced, baked, sauced, candied, juiced, in pies or even fried over pork chops, you can get your fill in Colorado. There are multiple fantastic places for picking your own apples throughout the state, including Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont, a century-old orchard. It uses organic practices to grow its signature variety of heirloom apples, and you not only get to fill a bag with fresh apples, but you can also cuddle up with the farm animals, go on a hayride, indulge in apple cider donuts and even press your own cider.
Celebrate Cowboy Culture
The Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been preserving the culture and stories of the American cowboy and ranching in southwest Colorado for decades now. Some 40 cowboy poets, storytellers, and musicians attend to celebrate this rich tradition that’s held in downtown Durango and headquartered at the historic Strater Hotel, which hosts evening performances at its Henry Strater Theater. There are all sorts of other activities, including the Cowboy Parade, western art displays, the Cowboy Poet Train on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and the Cowboy Poet Trail Ride at Rapp Corral.
Go Leaf Peeping
Of course, leaf-peeping is a no-brainer in Colorado, with some of the best fall foliage in the country, thanks to the many aspen groves. Take a scenic fall drive to Aspen to discover impressive hues of golden bronze and dazzling yellows, as well as the drive on Trail Ridge Road which runs through Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray in southwest Colorado. Peak viewing time is typically from late September or early October through about mid-October, depending on the season and the particular elevation.
Hear the Elks Bugle in Rocky Mountain National Park
There are many reasons to visit Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall. Not only can you enjoy spectacular leaf-peeping, but this is elk mating season, a time when you can hear the elks bugle, and get a close up look at many of the animals. Plus, Estes Park, a beautiful mountain town that serves as its eastern gateway, hosts the annual Elk Fest. It features amateur bugling, elk arts and crafts, elk education and much more, all in honor of the season.
Visit a Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze
What’s fall without visiting a pumpkin patch or running through a corn maze? While there are lots of places to do both in Colorado, the longest-running corn maze can be found at Anderson Farms in Erie. Not only does it feature a 25-acre corn maze and pumpkin patch, but there are a wealth of other activities like hayrides, gem mining, gourd launching, pedal karts and more. There’s also some rather spooky attractions for Halloween, like the ghost town, Zombie Paintball Hunt and Terror in the Corn.
Visit Colorado's Most Haunted Spots
As fall also coincides with Halloween season, you may want to explore some of Colorado’s most haunted spots, and there are many. Stephen King was inspired to write “The Shining” while staying at the more than 100-year-old Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Children’s laughter is reportedly frequently heard in the hallways, despite them being deserted, and a mysterious spirit seems to enjoy unpacking visitor’s bags. There are even nighttime spirit tours that will bring you into some of the property’s creepiest corners, including an underground tunnel.
Other haunted hot spots include just about any hotel in Cripple Creek; Denver’s historic Brown Palace Hotel and Spa the Molly Brown House Museum. You can also visit Elitch Gardens to attend Fright Fest held every weekend in October.
Enjoy Cultural Attractions for Free
Denver offers numerous outstanding cultural attractions, but did you know that you can get in for free on certain days of the year? If you’re in Denver, check out the calendar at the Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Denver, while Colorado Rail Museum near Boulder also offers free days. While not free, there is also a host of other budget-friendly activities in Colorado.
Drink Lots of Beer
If you’re a beer lover, you’ll be in paradise between Oktoberfest celebrations, held around the start of autumn, and the Great American Beer Festival in Denver early October. Of course, those aren’t the only events, but you’re sure to get your fill of good brew at these two. If you arrive early, you can also head to the Chili and Beer Festival in Mount Crested Butte. In between, there are lots of breweries for touring and tasting throughout Colorado, and many feature special fall events and tastings of seasonal beers too.