Mountainsides of trembling gold, splashes of orange and red plus cloudless blue skies – a perfect Colorado September day. Hearing forecasts of the fall colors peaking early this year we headed to the hills in search of seasonal glory. We struck gold!
We left Denver on US285 westbound. Just a sprinkling of color appeared until around Grant. Kenosha Pass is heavily forested in aspen and they were truly at their peak – a mother lode of gold. We weren’t the only ones out looking for color; hikers, bikers, horseback riders and photographers jockeyed for preferred positions. The road descends into South Park.
At Como we turn onto Boreas Pass Road – 21 miles to Breckenridge. Just outside of Como the pavement turns to gravel, a bit rough in spots but car drivable. The route follows the roadbed of the Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad constructed in 1880-81. When completed in 1884 the DSP&P was the shortest route between Denver and the rich Leadville mining district.
Looking for photo opportunities we follow a narrow side road and soon find ourselves at the Como Cemetery. Dense aspen stands nearly hide many of the tombstones, some dating back to the 1870s.
The east side of Boreas Pass supports many aspen groves, almost all of which have turned to shades of yellow, gold, orange, red, bronze or rust. Descending down the west side to Breckenridge we find fewer, but bright spectacular groves.
Hoping to avoid Sunday afternoon I-70 traffic we follow CO9 over Hoosier Pass to Fairplay. At 11,542’ elevation the pass is too high to support aspen. However we don’t have to travel far down the south side before mountainsides on the left and right glisten in the afternoon sun.
After a late lunch at the Brown Burro in Fairplay we head east on US285 over Red Hill and Kenosha Passes back to Denver. Temperatures in the mountains were comfortably in the 70s. Denver set a record at 96 degrees. Even at 5pm the sky was still cloudless; our Rocky Mountain day was truly golden.
If you want to see aspen at their best in central Colorado make the trip soon before all that glitters drifts to earth.
The route as describe over Kenosha Pass, Boreas Pass, Hoosier Pass, Red Hill Pass and returning over Kenosha Pass is approximately a 200-mile roundtrip from Denver. With lots of stops for photos plus exploring historic sites and cemeteries we made the trip in eight hours.