Winter Park, Colorado, isn’t known for sweeping views of golden aspen leaves and Autumn colors in the fall like the San Juans or the Maroon Bells. However, my home-away-from-home still has some nice color at the end of September and early October if you know where to look. And with fewer crowds, spending time in this area not far from Denver is a great way to enjoy a few days.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to escape up into the mountains and Grand County before heading south to photograph the Cimarron Valley and Telluride area. As I headed over Berthoud Pass on Highway 40 and began dropping into the Fraser Valley, the splashes of gold were sprinkled across the mountain. Just seeing the vibrancy of these aspen made me want speed down the road so I could start scouting good places to photograph these fleeting colors. Over the next few days, I enjoyed slow drives down dirt roads and stopping at every bend to see what compositions and angles I could come up with. Here were some of my favorite places.
County Road 725
This little dirt road runs behind Winter Park and winds its way to Fraser. It is a bit bumpy but still do-able. Several little roads branch off from this road – some much rougher than others. Along the way, the gold and orange leaves of the aspen make for beautiful stops along the way.
Heading northwest, CR 725 eventually runs into…
County Road 72
This little dirt road offers some nice bends with aspen draped over the road, as well as some nice views of the mountains east of Fraser.
Just west of CR 72 is…
County Road 73
This mostly long, straight road is probably best known because it runs alongside St. Louis Creek and by the Fraser Experimental Forest. There are also a few places that allow Byers Peak to show through, though I’m still searching for the perfect place to photograph this nearly-13,000’ peak.
Across from the Winter Park Ski Base, as you travel north on Highway 40, County Road 80 branches off to the right. Better known as Rollins Pass or Corona Pass, this dirt road bumps and grinds for 14 miles before dead-ending. The first several miles are passable with a standard car, but after that, I’d strongly recommend a 4WD. Along the way, several nice views appear that overlook Winter Park and Fraser.
Take some time and enjoy this sometimes bumpy drive, then turn around when it is time.
Winter Park Base
While this area isn’t covered in gold, I do enjoy photographing the base with some aspen and fall colors sprinkled around. I think the orange and gold shades always add a pop to a fun area.
Revisiting these images already makes me ready to return. I love my time in this area, especially in the off-peak times when the crowds are few and the air cool and fresh.
Safe travels, friends!