Fall Colors in Steamboat Springs
Fall in Steamboat: A Local's Paradise
Fall is unforgettable in Steamboat Springs. As the sun starts to set a little earlier over the Yampa Valley and the crisp morning air breaks to beautiful afternoons, the peaks and valleys surrounding Steamboat Springs transform into one of the most beautiful spots in the state.
Parents love it because school starts again, and kids love it because it means ski season will start soon. Locals love it because the trees and landscape shift into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and green, and businesses love it because local fall happy hours can begin!
Scenic Autumn Drives With Spectacular Fall Colors
From mid-September through mid-October, the mountains and valleys surrounding Routt county start their amazing transformation. It begins in the highs peaks, then quickly makes its way to the river bottoms.
If you are looking for a quick weekend getaway or an afternoon drive, here are a few scenic drives to make color hunting more enjoyable and leave you breathless:
Leaving the town of Steamboat Springs, heading North on County Road 129, brings you to the sleepy mining town of Hanh's Peak village. Enjoy stunning views from the top of Hanh's Peak or enjoy an afternoon of fly fishing in one of several lakes surrounding the area.
Alternative Route near North Routt
One of our more popular drives in the North Routt area, Elk River Valley is one of the prettiest spots in the state. This area has a unique blend of agriculture, river bottoms, and high peaks, with colors as diverse as the landscape.
Taking a left at the Clark Store will bring you to County Road 62. Traveled by few but loved by many, this drive will not only leave you breathless, but you may quickly run out of room on your camera with the number of pictures you'll want to take.
The roads bring you around the south side of Steamboat Lake, opening up amazing views of the Zirkel Wilderness area, Sand Mountain and Hahns Peak. There are several side trips you can take once you are back on County Rd 129. Adventures can continue north to Wyoming, through Big Red Park, or drive to the end of Seedhouse Road and take a hike in the Zirkel.
Buffalo Pass Road
Located a stone's throw from downtown Steamboat Springs, Buffalo Pass Road is a local favorite and one of the easiest places to find spectacular fall colors. Early morning risers have a great chance of seeing elk and moose roaming the open parks between the grandstands of pines and aspen. Ridges and valleys dominate the skyline, with photo ops around every corner.
Spring Creek trail is located off this road, so riders and hikers can enjoy the scenery as well. Don't miss an area know as "Rainbow Ridge." Just five miles up from the base of the pass, viewers will get wonderful views of Rocky Peak and Crystal Peak. Topping out at 11,000 feet, this is usually the first place in the area where leaves start changing. Take County Road 36 towards the Strawberry Park Hot Springs and, one mile out, then make a right onto Buffalo Pass Road.
Flattops Scenic Byway
Located just outside the sleepy town of Yampa, the Flattops area is one of our nation's largest wilderness areas. Known for the state's largest herd of elk, grand aspen stands, and broad alpine vistas, this area is truly one of our Nation's treasures. Driving out early increases your chances of seeing elk, deer, moose, and other animals that live in Steamboat Springs.
There are many places to stop and stretch your legs, and if you love fishing, you had better not forget to bring your fly rod! Steamboat Springs fly fishing is legendary, and Yamcola, Upper Stillwater, and Stillwater all have populations of Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout. Take Highway 131, located just south of Steamboat Springs, all the way to the town of Yampa. Head down the main street and follow the signs. Don't forget to stop at the famous Antlers Bar and Grill for a cold one.
Where to Look at Fall Colors Here in Town
Steamboat Springs is generally one of the first spots in the state to change colors. If you don't like driving, there are many good spots right in town to enjoy Steamboat Springs in the fall.
Steamboat Restaurant Week begins October 7 and runs through October 15. This event features local restaurants that serve specials to foodies and casual eaters alike. With this opportunity, you'll be able to explore local restaurants and their favorite meals!
When else can you enjoy all of Steamboat's colors? My favorite hikes in the fall are Spring Creek Trail (a classic, and a trail that I hike every week with my family) and Mad Creek Trail. Of course, though, any hike is a good hike in the fall or anytime in Steamboat.
Simply renting a bike and exploring the best biking trails in Steamboat Springs will open your world up to a host of dazzling Autumn colors. Alternatively, you could take a leisure stroll down the Yampa Core trail or other Steamboat Springs hiking trails, which will lead you to wonderful photo opportunities. Spring Creek Trail, one of our most popular local trails, is located within the city limits and can be accessed a short distance from Downtown.
Warm Brew Season
Trying all the different fall coffees and teas is always a good time, especially a good pumpkin spice latte. Routt County hosts a variety of amazing local Steamboat coffee shops that you can try out. Each of them is also a good place to sit and get some work done or talk to friends!
You can fish before it gets too cold, allowing you the chance to catch a trout while also not freezing your waders off. A peaceful morning out on the water surrounded by fiery orange and yellow trees is the perfect way to soak up the season.
Every summer item is on clearance! Go rummaging and shop 'til you drop! And while you're out traveling between stores, you can take some time to admire the beautiful colors of Steamboat Spring.
Fall in Love with Fall in Steamboat
Fall is a local's time to shine in Steamboat. Be aware it's easy to fall in love with Steamboat Springs. One trip might be all it takes, but I can think of worse things that could happen to you.
So come visit us and introduce yourself! Who knows, soon you might be a local too. There is no better time than Autumn to enjoy this wonderful place we call home.