Fall is a very special season to enjoy the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Aspens, cottonwoods and willows turn golden-yellow, sometimes covering the base of snow-dusted peaks. The peak color change varies with elevation and usually emerges from late September in the high peaks to mid/late-October in the lower elevations. We advise 'leaf-peepers' to arrive earlier than the conference dates to enjoy the annual autumn display. That said, there are many places to explore year-round. A few suggestions are noted below.


Vail is the quintessential ski destination in Colorado. However, in the fall, it becomes a quiet refuge. Grand Hyatt Vail provides guided tour options and will be available during the workshop to assist. A sampling of activities can be found under the 'Excursions' Tab. In addition, there are plenty of things to do on your own or with other outfitters, whether it be shopping and dining in Vail Village to hiking various trails.

East Vail during the peak of aspen color change/ MLS


The city has come a long way from being just a jumping point for exploring the Rocky Mountains. Today, Denver is a vibrant city bustling with live music, restaurants, sports (Go Avs!), street art, parks and museums, making it a tourist destination itself. Neighborhoods such as those around Union Station, the River North (RiNo) District, Capitol Hill and the Santa Fe Arts District are popular areas to explore. A 'brewery crawl', anyone? Or maybe check out Meow Wolf, a psychedelic convergence of over 70 art installations - including a fascinating world inspired by cellular substructure and a giant virus-like Cosmohedron.

Denver's Union Station and 16th Street Mall/ MLS


Every musician's dream - from The Beatles to U2 to Dave Matthews Band - is to perform at the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. Consistently voted as the best outdoor music venue in the country, this spectacular venue hosts live concerts nearly every night from May to November. Incubus, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Rüfüs Du Sol, Mercyme and Maren Morris are performing here before/after the conference. During the day, the park is also worth exploring for its intriguing rock formations ... including dinosaur tracks!

Red Rocks during a rare, quiet evening/ MLS



Hunting for fall colors in Colorado could be tricky as it all depends on the amount of moisture, elevation, wind and temperature cycles. If fall colors in the high mountains are past-peak, there's a good chance that there would still be some 'pockets of gold' at lower elevations. The historic town of Golden (elev. 5675 ft/ 1730 m), just north of Red Rocks, is an excellent choice for 'late leaf-peeping', from its charming downtown to nearby Table Mountain, Lookout Mountain and Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Golden Aspens in October/ MLS


Remnants of the Gold Rush in the 1800s could be found everywhere in Colorado, but some are more accessible than others. Between Denver and the Eisenhower Tunnel, old mining towns such as Idaho Springs, Georgetown and Silver Plume are worth the stop for history buffs. Georgetown, in particular, is famous for a classic steam train ride to what is left of a narrow gauge railroad extending to Breckenridge back in 1884. From Georgetown, a scenic road up to Guanella Pass also provide unforgettable mountain views.

Georgetown Loop Railroad/ Photo courtesy of Joetography, Pexels.com


If open, a drive through Loveland Pass could be a dream. Take Exit 216 from I-70 before the Eisenhower Tunnel, then drive US-6 to Loveland Pass towards the twin towns of Dillon and Silverthorne before connecting back to I-70. This thrilling drive goes all the way up to 11,991 ft/3655 m, where trails over the alpine tundra towards majestic peaks seem to extend as far as the eye can see. For incredible views of Lake Dillon and the Tenmile Range, you could continue driving on towards the Sapphire Point Overlook, before linking back to I-70 via the town of Frisco. Alternatively, you could drive south to the ski town of Breckenridge for a quick snack before heading back to I-70.

Sapphire Point Overlook along Swan Mountain Road/ MLS


Situated at the base of the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge became a major town in the 1800s when gold was found in the Blue River. Today, it houses one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, with numerous restaurants and shops along its charming main street lined with historic buildings with Victorian architecture. Fly-fishing, stand-up paddling, mountain biking and hiking are popular activities here during the fall. A trip down 1000 feet to a historic gold mine is offered by Country Boy Mine.

Quaint shops line Main Street, with views of the mountains creatively named Peaks 1 to 10/ MLS


Just an hour drive west of Vail is the town of Glenwood Springs, famous for folks who want to take a dip into the world's largest mineral hot springs pool. The drive itself is noteworthy, as the I-70 highway splits into two levels as it snakes through Glenwood Canyon, carved by no other than the mighty Colorado River. Parallel to the river is a paved walkway and bicycle path, providing gorge-ous views of the canyon and brilliant cottonwood trees late into the fall season. For the more adventurous, a steep 1200 ft/366 m and 3 mi/5 km hike up the canyon leads to the pristine Hanging Lake. As it's a popular trail, a permit is required and could be obtained here. Above the quaint town is Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, featuring a cave with intricate stalactites and stalagmites, and a Giant Swing that would pendulum the brave over the steep canyon.

Glenwood Springs(1)
Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs/ MLS


Less than an hour drive south of Vail, the highest incorporated town in the USA, Leadville, provide access to 8 of the 20 highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, including the tallest peak in the Rockies, Mount Elbert (14440 ft/ 4401 m). Eye-popping mountain views and a high-elevation ghost town can be seen on the phenomenal drive through Independence Pass, which goes over the Continental Divide to the glitzy mountain town of Aspen. Driving south towards Buena Vista, a series of "14ers" named after Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia and Oxford comprise the Collegiate Peaks. Buena Vista is located near the headwaters of the far-reaching Arkansas River, featuring world-class fly-fishing, whitewater rafting and soaking in Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

The Collegiate Peaks and Highway 82 from a trail in Independence Pass/ MLS


Just 2 hours from Vail, there are plenty of things to explore in Aspen, the country's premier mountain playground for the rich and famous. Thankfully, you don't need to be a billionaire to indulge in its natural beauty. Aside from exploring the posh town, seeing the famous Maroon Bells are in many people's bucket lists. A reservation is required to visit these famous peaks, and they almost always sell out early. The Ashcroft Ghost Town is a good alternative.

The Maroon Bells near Aspen/ MLS


There are many places to explore than those suggested above. If you're taking more days off to explore, heading further west to Crystal Mill, Palisade, The Grand Mesa and Colorado Nat'l Monument will be sure to astound. Please do not hesitate to contact the local organizers for advice!


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