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Although fall foliage tours are well known in the East, the West has its own share of transforming leaves. Clients who want to take in the stunning scenery can view the changing colors of Colorado’s aspen trees along eight scenic byways.
Alpine Loop Back Country Byway
This 65-mile route explores stunning peaks and narrow glacial valleys, including two 12,000-foot passes. Along the way you may view well- preserved remains of stamp mills, tramways and ghost towns from the mining boom days, or stretch your legs on one of the hiking trails. Portions of the route are accessible only by off-road vehicles, so you might consider renting a 4x4 or hiring a commercial guide in nearby Ouray, Silverton or Lake City.
Bachelor Historic Loop
Bachelor Historic Loop is a 17-mile trek that takes visitors through the last great mining boom town in Colorado, Creede. The tour begins at the kiosk at the fork of East and West Willow Creek in the canyon north of town and ends at the kiosk on Highway 149 in Creede.
Grand Mesa Scenic Byway
Linking the towns of Mesa and Cedaredge, the 51-mile Grand Mesa Scenic Byway follows Colorado 65 to I-70 before heading west along the Lands End Road (FDR 100). The road then traverses across the top of Grand Mesa, one of the world's largest flat-topped mountains. While here, stop at the Grand Mesa Visitors Center, or check out one of the 300 lakes on Grand Mesa.
Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride is
accessible via the San Juan Skyway
San Juan Skyway
The San Juan Skyway has been called "The Most Beautiful Drive in America" and is Colorado's first National Forest Scenic Byway. Looping through the beautiful San Juan Mountains, this 236-mile route takes you through the San Juan, Uncompahgre, Wilson and Sneffels mountain ranges. The route passes through the towns of Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, Cortez and Mancos.
Silver Thread Scenic Byway
The Silver Thread Scenic Byway weaves its way from Lake City through Creed and on to South Fork along Colorado Highway 149. Stretching 75- miles, this byway offers panoramic views and plenty of wildlife. It also explores an area rich in Native American history, early-day Anglo explorers and Victorian-era mining.
Trail of the Ancients
This route treats visitors to fall colors, as well as a glimpse into Colorado's historic past. The tail begins at the Four Corners Monument, where you may stand in four states at one time, then travels to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park and continues to Mesa Verde National Park. From Cortez you may backtrack to the Anasazi Heritage Center and go on to Lowry Pueblo. Before reaching the final stop — Hovenweep National Monument —consider three side trips to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez Center and the Galloping Goose Museum.
Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway
From just outside of Grand Junction, this 138-route follows Colorado Highways 141 and 145 to Placerville. Following the course of the Unaweep Canyon, this scenic route continues through the vivid desert "redbeds" of Dolores River Canyon then opens onto the high plains. The entire drive is framed by the magnificent San Juan Mountain Range.
Kebler Pass on the West Elk
Scenic & Historic Byway
West Elk Scenic and Historic Byway
The 205-mile West Elk Scenic and Historic Byway originates in Carbondale then follows Colorado Highway 133 over McClure Pass into Crested Butte. From there it continues south to Gunnison then southwest on U.S. 50 along the Blue Mesa Reservoir. Continue on through Sapinero to the junction of U.S. 50 and Colorado Highway 92. Here the route proceeds north through the towns of Maher, Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia. By completing the loop in Hotchkiss you can return to Carbondale via McClure Pass.