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Here Are 8 Of The Most Popular Fall Colors Viewing Destinations In Colorado

(CBS4) - Colorado is heading into fall foliage season as the days grow shorter and the aspens start their change to gold in the mountains. It's not hard to find amazing, breathtaking views in many high country locations, but here are some popular, guaranteed-to-please trips to consider as you pack up the family and enjoy all the Rocky Mountains have to offer by car.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park covers 415 square miles and offers extraordinary views any time of year. In fall foliage season, it's the aspen gold that will reward visitors. Because of its popularity you do need to get a timed-entry reservation. If you want the best views make sure to choose option 1, which gives you access to Bear Lake Road so you can check the view at Glacier Gorge Junction. Do note, the park does still have some closures because of last year's Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome Fire, which both burned in portions of the park.

Fall Colors in Colorado
Bierstadt Trail and Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park (credit: Marsha Hobart)

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway
Guanella Pass is 22 mile journey through the Rocky Mountain ecosytem. It takes about an hour to make the drive from historic Georgetown to Grant. The drive is spectacular as you travel through stands of spruce, fir, aspen and pine along cascading creeks. At its peak, is a chance to explore Mt. Bierstadt if parking is available. And if you haven't made the journey in a while, the entire byway is now paved.

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Dwayne Nesmith of Boulder took this photo on Guanella Pass.

Peak to Peak Highway
The Peak to Peak Highway is a three hour journey between Estes Park and Interstate 70, taking you by Lily Mountain and Twin sisters, through Allenspark, Nederland and Black Hawk, then through Clear Creek Canyon to I-70. The Continental Divide provides the backdrop for thousands of acres of golden aspen.

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Judi Puncec of Lakewood took this photo along the Peak to Peak Highway on Sept. 24, 2012.

Boreas Pass
Boreas Pass is a stunning hour long drive through the central Rockies connecting the historic village of Como to the resort town of Breckenridge. The road follows the old South Park and Pacific Railroad bed, climbing a gradual 3% grade. That route was the nation's highest narrow-gauge railroad when the trains ran on it from 1872 to 1938.

Boreas Pass
Bob Battenhouse took this photo on Sept. 19, 2011 on Boreas Pass of "the aspens in full gold."

San Juan Skyway
If you need a day full of leaf peeping, plan a trip to the Western Slope and include a day to explore the San Juan Skyway. The 236 mile trip takes about 6 hours. The loop takes you through Old West Durango, stunning Telluride and Victorian jewels Silverton and Ouray. It also takes you to Mesa Verde National Park. The stretch from Ouray to Silverton is the Million Dollar Highway.

Million Dollar Highway
Diane Marince of Thornton took this photo on the Million Dollar Highway near Ouray on Oct. 2. 2011

West Elk Loop
The West Elk Loop south of Glenwood Springs also offers the spectacular views with the foliage views anchored by the twin summits of Mount Sopris and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The loop takes you through Carbondale and over McClure Pass revealing one of the largest expanses of aspen in Colorado. Do be aware the stretch of Colorado Road 12 over Kebler Pass is not paved. Expect more company on the stretch on Highway 135 of the byway between Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Kebler Pass
Ted Lewandowski of Avon took this photo on Oct. 4, 2011 at Kebler Pass.

The Highway of Legends
If you've got plans to explore southern Colorado, don't miss the Highway of Legends. It joins I-25 south of Walsensburg. The scenic byway stretches from Aguilar over the 11,248 Cordova Pass connecting with Colorado Highway 12 at Cuchara Pass. It ties together Trinidad Lake State Park and Lathrop State Park. You'll find aspen groves all along the drive. The byway does have a stretch of gravel road over Cordova Pass.

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Mike Hagen of Centennial took this photo on Sept. 26, 2012 on Highway of Legends Highway 12 from La Veta to Trinidad.

Highway 24
Another beautiful stretch in southern Colorado is Highway 24 between Colorado Springs and Buena Vista. The 93 mile trip takes a little less than 2 hours. The highway follows the Arkansas River as you have a chance to enjoy the golds, reds and oranges of the Pikes Peak region. You'll also find a pair of short scenic drives off Highway 24 in Buena Vista.

RELATED: 5 Great Colorado Places With Hikes To Enjoy Fall Colors


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