Some places celebrate the coming of fall with pumpkin spice lattes. Not here.
In Colorado, we mark the changing of seasons with awe-inspiring gold leaves, bountiful apple and chile harvests, and the famous elk rut.
Here are 10 very Colorado activities to cross off your fall bucket list.
Snap a leaf-peeping selfie
Whether you’re experiencing the magic of leaf-peeping season by a scenic car ride, hike or mountain town getaway, don’t be ashamed to immortalize the moment with a picture or 10. After all, the brilliantly-colored gold and red leaves are fleeting. A photo will last you forever.
Be among the first to visit Meow Wolf Denver
After years of anticipation, psychedelic playground Meow Wolf finally opened its doors in Denver on Sept. 17. The four-story, 90,000-square-foot installation features the works of more than 100 Colorado artists. Hungry visitors will also find local eats on the menu. We have all the tips and tricks you need to know before you go, including routes to the obscure area where it’s located, parking information and where to eat and drink nearby ahead of your ticket time. Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m.Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. $45 for general admission ($35 for Colorado residents), $40 for children, seniors and military personnel ($30 for Colorado residents). 1338 1st St., Denver. meowwolf.com/visit/denver. 720-792-1200.
It’s been nearly a decade since the apple harvest was as bountiful as it is this year, according to Colorado growers, so there’s no better time to visit an orchard and collect some apples for seasonal pies and jams. Our top apple-picking places are Adam’s Apple (42135 Weld County Road 43, Ault) and Ya Ya (6914 Ute Highway, Longmont). Visit adamsapplecolorado.com and yayafarmandorchard.com for reservation information.
Hike a 13er
Fall is an amazing time to hike in Colorado, as summer crowds dissipate and cooler weather rolls in. Because some of the state’s peaks at 14,000-plus feet are already getting a dusting of snow, we recommend tackling a thirteener to close out the season. Here are three near Denver worth hiking.
Stock up on Pueblo chiles
Forget Hatch: Late September into October is the best time of year to find Pueblo’s signature chile peppers. These homegrown peppers are meatier and spicier than their rivals to the south, making them a favorite for local chefs to put in hot sauces, salsas and other dressings. Buy ‘em and try ‘em at the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival Sept. 24-26, or find them at Whole Foods stores, farmers markets and roadside stands thereafter.
Whether it’s corn mazes and pumpkin patches or Oktoberfest and Halloween celebrations, the Colorado calendar is rife with fall-themed festivals for fun-loving residents of all ages. A couple of our favorites include Fall Festival at Anderson Farms in Erie (Sept. 22-Oct. 31; andersonfarms.com), Estes Park Elk Fest (Oct. 2-3; visitestespark.com), and Paranormal Palace (Oct. 30-31; denverhalloween.org).
Drink an award-winning local beer
Fall is Märzen season, but there are plenty of other styles that pair well with the changing of seasons. Colorado breweries made a commendable showing at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, which honors beers that are always worth seeking out. Denver’s Our Mutual Friend Brewing Co. was the biggest winner this year, earning gold for its Australian pale ale Inner Light and silver for Biere Ovale, a mixed-culture beer. See the full list of GABF award winners here.
Glamp in the great outdoors
It might be too chilly for some to go camping this time of year, but those craving the great outdoors don’t need to worry at these glamping locations across Colorado. While locations like Lake George’s Puma Hills offer Australian sheepskin furs to keep visitors warm, others like the Royal Gorge Cabins near Cañon City offer accommodations with radiant heat concrete floors.
Countdown the days until ski season
Front Range ski areas Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Keystone are preparing to open in October, which means it’s officially time to start warming up those ski legs. We recommend targeting your mountain muscles with these quintessential exercises or registering for the SnowShape workout and conditioning series at Red Rock Amphitheatre, which happens on Saturdays through Oct. 9.
With the odds of running into someone with COVID-19 higher than they’ve been all year, experts advise getting vaccinated for the virus prior to winter when diseases spread more easily. And while you’re at it, get a flu shot too. Colorado recently opened four new mass clinics where residents can get the COVID-19 vaccine for free. It’s a good idea not only to help curb the spread of the deadly virus, but also because companies are now requiring it to partake in fun stuff like concerts and indoor ski resort amenities.
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