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Colorado Fall Adventures

5 Bucket List Fall Activities In Colorado

Top Fall Activities Around Summit County

Fall Rafting Trips

Autumn is the season when we reap the beauty of Colorado’s long, snowy winters and bright, sunny summers. Trees that grew a foot in spring, leafed out exuberantly, and sucked in the high alpine sunshine now burst into a last flash of color as the sun declines toward the horizon. It’s leaf-peeping season! But why sit in your car driving around roads crowded with gawkers when you can get off the beaten path and enjoy golden aspens and rosy dogwoods with your friends in Colorado’s wild lands.

Seeking autumn adventures in Summit County, CO? Look no further than Colorado Adventure Guides. Embark on a captivating guided hike, mountain bike ride, climbing excursion, or mellow float on the Colorado River to witness the breathtaking golden aspens that adorn the Colorado landscape during fall. With their extensive knowledge of Summit County’s prime locations for autumn foliage, the expert guides at CAG will lead you to unforgettable sights.

1. Rafting On The Upper Colorado

Okay, so yes, the river will be lower than in spring, and the whitewater will be more manageable, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing not to get overly wet when the weather will be milder and the sun softer. Days in September and October are often quite warm down in the river valley, and the colors you’ll see on the drive over to Rancho del Rio alone will be worth your time. Once on the river you’ll see dogwoods and willows radiating the full spectrum of red-orange-yellow colors. Fall grasses wave yellow and orange in the breeze, and the duck and geese with their grown chicks will be filling up on ripe grass seed, preparing to head down to warmer climates. Needle’s Eye rapid at lower levels is tricky, and Yarmony is bony, but your guide will funnel you through narrow passes. You’ll zip through tall, dark, stony canyons and float past ranchlands and river islands covered with colorful fall vegetation. Experience autumn from water level, a whole new perspective.

State Bridge On The Upper Colorado

Introduction to Rock Climbing Course

2. Guided Rock Climbing Tour

Frankly, fall is our favorite time to rock climb. There’s less chance of afternoon showers that make the rock slick, and the sunshine is milder so you won’t bake on the rock wall. Most families have gone home because kids are back in school, and local aficionados are around to guide you. We’ll provide all the gear you need and teach you climbing fundamentals.

3. Mountain Bike Through Aspen Groves

Hop on a mountain bike and cruise up and down Dillon, Frisco, or Breckenridge’s mountain bike trails. We’ll load your group and your bikes up in a van, and drive you over to some of the best singletrack runs in the state. If you want to boost your confidence and expand your range of trail options, our guides will teach you skills like berm and flat turn cornering, beginner drops and jumps, introduce you to technical riding, and more. Tell us what you want, and our guides will take you there: grinding climbs, flowy downhills, or cruisers past winding historic mining towns. Most trails will take you past forests with yellow-orange aspens and towering pines.

Mountain Biking Through Aspen Groves in Summit County, CO

Fall Activities in Colorado

4. Hike Through The Fall Colors

Hike aspen-lined trails to new heights. Our guides will lead you up their favorite fall trails away from the crowds. In the fall hiking trails are often lined with fresh fallen golden aspen leaves, and you can walk over a route reminiscent of the yellow brick road to Oz. A whole corridor of aspens glows like a golden tunnel, shining warmly all around you. The aroma is kinder and more loamy than that of a clean, stark piney forest scent; the atmosphere is soft and wistful. Take a picnic and enjoy this brief, special season with the whole family.  Learn about preparing for variable fall weather here.

5. Paddle Board Tour On Lake Dillon

Tour Lake Dillon’s Islands on a stand up paddle board or in an inflatable kayak. In the fall, summer’s strong afternoon winds and clouds typically die down, and the Lake can be sunny and smooth as glass even in the second, and warmer, half of the day. The Reservoir is lined with shrubs that change from green to red and orange, exploding like small campfires on the shores you’ll cruise past. Tall grasses on the uninhabited islands turn golden and bright, and ducks and geese cruise past diving for fish or eating seeds on the shore. You may see deer and elk with furry fall racks jousting for mates, and eagles and osprey hunting fish before the lake freezes over solid. Bring the whole family; we’ll supply all you need: splash jackets, life vests, and SUPs or kayaks. This is a great place to learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding.

Paddle Board on Lake Dillon, CO in Fall

Book A Fall Adventure With Colorado Adventure Guides!

Experience the beauty of Fall in the Rockies with Colorado Adventure Guides. Choose from a range of guided adventures, including hiking, biking, and rock climbing expeditions. Our expert local guides will ensure an amazing experience for you.

Fall Activities in Colorado

5 Tips for Fall in Colorado

5 Tips for Enjoying Fall in Colorado

Make the most of your fall adventures in Colorado with a few of our seasonal tips!

Colorado Fall Adventures

It’s the time of year when the days get shorter and the mornings begin with a frosty chill in the air. Summer is about to give way to fall, but winter isn’t here yet, and that means there’s still plenty of time left to get out and enjoy some time adventuring in the mountains. It’s most tempting to flock to trails along stands of aspen trees as they light up in yellow and orange, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for doing just that. But after you’ve gotten your leaf-peeper fix in, don’t forget about all the high alpine adventures still to be had.

Fall is arguably the best time to get up in the alpine in Colorado. The tundra flushes with hues of gold and maroon and clear, bluebird days become the norm. Especially after a monsoon season like we’ve had this summer, the high peaks seem to beckon this time of year. As summer transitions to the colder months, we start to see fewer thunderstorms in the forecast which means less electricity in the sky to shy us away from the alpine. These favorable forecasts mean more opportunities to tackle bigger hiking and mountaineering objectives.

If you’re making your way to Colorado’s High Country this September and October, here are our tips for how to make the most of this wonderful season.

Fall Hikes in Colorado

1. Layers!

Summer has slipped away and winter is on its way. The mornings have some extra chill to them now, with temps often plunging into the 30’s as the days go on. Most adventures will start off rather chilly, but with blue skies and mild weather in the forecast, the days warm up quickly. So whether you’re out for a short morning hike or a full-day ascent, always have an extra layer or two on hand. And even though mid-day may seem warm, the sun only sinks faster these days and as soon as it’s gone that chill comes right back.

Leaf Peeping in Colorado

2. Beat the Crowds

Here in Summit County, things start to slow down a little after Labor Day weekend. Long gone are the crowds that come in July, and that means more mountain solitude for us to enjoy. But just because the crowds have thinned, that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. This time of year, most people will seek out areas thick with aspens for their fall color viewing pleasure, and you should absolutely do that too (no one can deny how beautiful it is). But after you’ve taken a fall drive along Boreas Pass Road and biked the leaf-covered berms on Aspen Alley, set your sights to the high alpine for solitude and a little extra adventure.

Fall in Summit County Colorado

3. Fall Fourteeners

Summer thunderstorms scare you off from your 14er summit attempts? Well those dark clouds come around less often in September and October, which means more weather windows for summiting Colorado’s highest peaks. This is a great time of year to go for the longer missions, or even just to sleep in a little before starting your hike. More often than not, you won’t have to worry about being back below treeline by the early afternoon, so you can linger a little more in the alpine.

Check the Weather Before Hiking

4. Check the Weather

While thunderstorms are far less frequent as the days get shorter and cooler, that doesn’t mean they’re gone completely. Always check the weather before heading out. Plus, this will give you a better idea of what layers to bring. It may be 35 degrees at the trailhead, but half way through your day you could be basking in 75-degree sunshine. Be prepared for extreme temperature changes in a short amount of time! Don’t be surprised to catch some snow snow flurries on the same day you were hiking in a tee shirt.

Fall in Summit County Colorado

5. Catch the Colors!

Experiencing Colorado’s aspen groves turn to bright orange and yellow is truly an unforgettable site! Unfortunately, there is a pretty tight window of time to get your leaf peeping in. Due to the high alpine temperature swings a wintery cold snap can come along and cause the aspen’s to lose their leaves. Get after it while the getting is good! If the aspen groves are starting to turn, make time to get out and enjoy your favorite fall activities while the colors are still peaking.

Hire a Guide for Fall Adventures

Colorado Adventure Guides offers amazing guided adventure to experience Fall in the Rockies. Book one of local expert guides to go on a fall hike, bike ride or rock climbing expedition.

Fall Adventures and Discounts

Summit County Fall Adventures

Fall has arrived here in Summit County! Days are shorter, mornings are colder, and more yellow leaves appear on the aspens every day. Though people flock to Summit for winter skiing and summer hiking, some of us at Colorado Adventure Guides think now is the best time of year to play in the mountains. We’d like to convince you, so we’re offering discounts on all guided adventures in October!

Though summer offers warmth and lots of daylight, it also brings the monsoon weather pattern, a hazard that’s gone by fall. The monsoon means almost daily thunderstorms, and when hiking above treeline, these storms bring lightning that can be deadly. But by this time of year, the weather has stabilized. September instead brings many clear, cloudless days—perfect weather for exploring the high country! Sure, your mornings will be a bit dark and chilly, but the payoff of a bluebird afternoon is unbeatable.

Breckenridge, Colorado Fall Adventure looking out over Summit County

Breckenridge, location of CAG headquarters, on a cloudless fall afternoon. Can you pick out the 2 Summit County 14ers pictured in this photo? Hint: we guide them both via a unique, adventurous route!

Fall typically also means another pleasant change: fewer crowds! The summer vacationers are back to school, parking lots are emptier, and grocery store aisles are easier to navigate. This change means that summer’s popular areas often become pleasant locations for finding some solitude.

To make the most of fall in the high country, keep a few things in mind. First, fall is a transition time. Summer is out, winter is coming, and sometimes, hikers can feel winter’s impending arrival. Pack warm layers for the morning hours, plan on hiking in temps in the 20s and 30s, and don’t expect to feel direct sunlight until mid-morning on certain aspects. Fall is that unique time when temps can easily fluctuate 40 or more degrees within a few hours. Also, check the weather forecast. Unlike the predictable daily cycle of summer storms, fall weather is usually either sunny and clear… or distinctly not. As winter approaches, sometimes a storm brings a preview of what’s to come with overcast skies, wind, and snow. Usually these storms are parts of larger systems that meteorologists can predict, and they usually only last a day or two.

Summit County fall adventure hiking through the aspen groves

A carpet and canopy of yellow await hikers who explore high country trails in fall.

A few resources and supplies we like for fall adventures:

  • OpenSummit: This website, created by entrepreneurial weather nerd Joel Gratz, is the younger sibling to OpenSnow, which offers forecasts specific to ski areas. Use OpenSummit to access hour-by-hour graphs of predicted precip, wind speed, cloud cover, and lightning potential on Colorado’s 14ers and peaks all over the world.
  • A backpacking stove, mug, and hot drink: On shiver-inducing fall mornings, ease the discomfort of an alpine start with a mid-morning break for a hot tea or coffee. Peppermint tea warms and energizes. Or go for a caffeinated hot beverage for, well, the caffeine, duh.
  • Layering options: On a recent CAG guided ascent of Grays Peak, our guide could have used thicker gloves and warmer pants while hiking through a frozen creek in the morning… but also could have used shorts when the sun was overhead in the afternoon. Pack for fall adventures with options for temperature extremes.
  • Reading material: Stable fall weather means a hiker can often safely linger above treeline for hours. Unlike in summer, when gale-force winds and black billowing clouds usher in the fear of getting skewered by a lightning bolt, in September a hiker can often lounge free of anxiety on an alpine ridge, far above the shelter of the forest. Plan for lounging by packing a compelling novel or at least a decent magazine. Or leave it all at home and enjoy the rare chance to simply sit and appreciate a calm, clear, warm fall afternoon at twelve or thirteen thousand feet above sea level.

If a guided fall hike, peak ascent, trail run, or day of rock climbing sounds like your jam, give us a call today. We’ll discount your October guided adventure and show you how fantastic fall days in the alpine can be.

Summit County fall adventures come quickly and leaves hit the ground quickly

Colorado Adventure Guides Logo

NOLO Mill History

Just south of Breckenridge and West of Alma, the North London Mill site lies at the base of Mosquito Pass. Colorado Adventure Guides has partnered with the North London Mill Preservation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, to help preserve Colorado’s mining heritage while developing an alternative model for outdoor recreation.

In summers, join us for a History & Archaeology Workshop to learn about the area, check out the ripping ski terrain in winters, and meet the team helping make this new backcountry education center a reality.


Home to around 1,000 residents and workers in the early 1900’s, the NoLo Mill and Mine participated in one of Colorado’s biggest gold strikes, which spanned 70 years and resulted in nearly one million ounces of gold. Eventually the mine closed during WWII, and the buildings were abandoned.

Fast forward a few decades, and the NOLO Mill is now the site of an unique project designed to unite historical preservation with recreational and educational use. Renovation is currently underway on the old mill office which will become the first of several backcountry huts and education venues.

Colorado Adventure Guides is excited to be part of the project and serves as the designated winter sports guide partner. With access to over 3,000 acres of public and private land surrounding the huts, we will be offering AIARE avalanche safety courses, and Introduction to Backcountry Skiing/Splitboarding courses at the sites, and look forward to offering overnight hut trips as the buildings are restored in the future.

Designed with the layperson in mind, these workshops will be conducted by NoLo Executive Co-Director and Historian Kate McCoy and archaeologists Michelle Slaughter from Alpine Archaeological Consultants and Natasha Krasnow from Metcalf Archaeological Consultants. Participants will learn about the history of mining in Park County and the history of the North London Mine and Mill. They will tour the site and learn about existing features and their roles during the Mill’s operation. Participants will also learn about how archaeology contributes to what we can know about sites like the North London Mill.

Learn more about the NOLO Project here.

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