Several Places Where Fall Foliage is Peaking in the Rocky Mountains Now in Each State

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: October 21, 2022
© Paul Brady Photography/
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One of the numerous mountain ranges that span parts of the United States are the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies is another name for them. The Rocky Mountains, which cover 3,000 miles and multiple states, are the country’s longest main mountain range. 

The Rockies have numerous smaller peak-containing subranges. Whether you’re looking for a scenic road trip or a quick day venture to a nearby park, the Rockies offer outstanding views of fall foliage. Below we’re going to dive into all the incredible places you can go to see breathtaking views in every state that the Rocky Mountains grace. 


It’s a joy to be outside in Southeast Idaho during the fall, taking in the breathtaking colors and crisp, clean air. In Idaho, beautiful drives and excursions of the fall foliage are growing in popularity. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature thanks to the 27 state byways, each of which is distinctive to its location. 

Around there, you won’t find a shortage of fall foliage! Rocky Mountain Elk Ranch is fortunate to be tucked away in the Southeast Idaho mountains, where you may view stunning, constantly-changing hues from a wraparound veranda.

Visitors may enjoy the beautiful fall foliage along Mink Creek Road. There are several chances for hiking, riding, and photography along the route, which winds through a verdant, forested valley. Each year, the great array of cottonwood trees becomes citron yellow. Any route that departs from Mink Creek Road is a good bet. Since the overgrowth of trees is so massive and bending over to touch the parallel trees, the trails frequently appear to be tunneled.

Once you’ve experienced all that Southeast Idaho has to offer in terms of fall color, return to the Elk Ranch and go at your photos on a wraparound terrace. The unmistakable sound of elk bugling in the brisk fall air will warm your heart. You’ll only encounter positive energy at Rocky Mountain Elk Ranch, along with perhaps one or two elk.

Bull Elk in the Fall Rut
Bull elk in the Fall Rut

©Tom Tietz/


Fall is a great time to visit Montana and enjoy the state. You’re in a great position to be there when the autumn colors in Montana are at their peak because there are fewer tourists and the chilly temperatures haven’t yet arrived. Here are some of the top locations in Montana to view the fall foliage. 

September and October bring stunning fall foliage to Yellowstone National Park. Mammoth Hot Springs, where the mist from the hot springs bathes the neighboring plains in a foggy haze, is a perfect site to soak in this. Biking is a great way to fully experience Yellowstone’s autumnal grandeur. The only campsite open in October along the cycling trail is the Mammoth Hot Springs campground. 

A Yellowstone road trip is a fantastic opportunity to view Montana’s fall foliage because the aspen trees you’ll see throughout the park are also covered in gorgeous shades of gold in the fall.

If you have a boat, it is well worth the long journey to Hungry Horse Reservoir via Hungry Horse Dam and up the mountain. This stunning reservoir, which is roughly an hour from West Glacier, is nearly 24,000 acres in size. In the fall, the larch firs’ changing foliage bathes much of its shoreline in a honey and gold hue.

prairie dog family in a burrow
Prairie dogs, like these pups, are among the many animals you could see while in Montana.

©Frank Fichtmueller/


The state’s fall foliage, when deciduous wonders clad in shades of yellow, gold, and red bloom among fresh autumn air and colder temperatures, makes Wyoming’s byways immaculate passageways through the state’s scenery. In search of some breathtaking autumnal drives in Wyoming? The state’s greatest picturesque byways to see the fall beauty is listed below.

Late in September, drive into the Shoshone National Forest to catch spectacular vistas of the aspens changing. The highest modern road in Wyoming is the Beartooth Scenic Highway. From Montana, the byway travels to Yellowstone National Park’s northeast entrance. The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway in Wyoming provides access to the route for drivers. 

A southernmost route through the Bighorn National Forest, the Cloud Peak Skyway, offers vistas of the Bighorn Mountains surrounded by aspens with hues of gold and yellow. Hit the byway in Buffalo or Ten Sleep for a breathtaking autumn journey through this magnificent region of Wyoming.

The Flaming Gorge — Green River Basin Scenic Byway offers a wonderful representation of the colorful impact of autumn on Wyoming’s varied landscapes, from mountain summits plastered with trees to the high desert and open-shrub vegetation. Take the road slightly west of Rock Springs to get to this lovely fall drive. Along the route, look out for herds of curious deer, antelope, and wild horses

Visit Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area while you’re around for a trek or to take in the sights of the gorge. Travel into Rock Springs to explore the town’s main drag and have a drink at Bitter Creek Brewing.

animals unique to North America:pronghorn
While not true antelopes, pronghorns are often called American antelopes.



It is a necessity to visit Colorado‘s Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall. Aspens in the park’s highest elevations start to turn a golden-yellow color in late August, and they seem even better when they shake in the wind. The high land of the park turns striped with color as autumn advances, giving the impression that it is on fire up close. 

Up until mid-October, when the park is usually awash in color, the aspens keep changing as they gradually descend in elevation, starting in October. Dozens of elk travel down from the high country in search of a spouse for the winter, contributing to the stunning natural spectacle.

One of the most beautiful fall treks departs from the Twin Sisters Trailhead on CO-7, which is about six miles from Estes Park and beyond the park’s boundaries. The trail’s first few miles run through a dense aspen forest that is ablaze with color. Due to the trailhead’s location outside of the Park’s boundaries, crowds tend to be thinner here. If you want to take a few pictures, arrive early to take advantage of the greatest lighting.

Even if you are trapped behind someone going slow, the trip to Bear Lake Road is worthwhile. Begin your excursion from Moraine Park and go up Bear Lake Road. Under a dense canopy of brilliant shivering aspens, the road parallels Glacier Creek. Because there aren’t many turnouts, you should drive completely off the road or pause at one of the many parking areas leading to lakes, trailheads, and viewpoints if you want to take pictures.

The splendor you will experience while climbing the Glacier Creek Trail to Alberta Falls is difficult to put into words. Along the trail, tall aspen trees with white scratched bark contrast with the golden-yellow tint coming from their leaves. Look at the creek as blankets of swirling leaves make their way downstream; it can be easy to overlook.

La Plata Peak Colorado
Fall foliage at La Plata Peak in Colorado, the fifth-highest peak in the Rocky Mountains


New Mexico

Aspen trees shake with trembling leaves that turn a vivid shade of gold in the fall, much to the delight of locals and visitors to New Mexico. The high country of New Mexico is currently the best site to view this glittering sight, but you’d better strap on a saddle if you enjoy horseback riding, since timing is crucial because the color is ephemeral, lingering for around one week throughout most of the state.

The best course of action is to choose the dates of your trip, but not your location in advance. Once there, follow the color of the stunning Rocky Mountains. The 16-mile Sunspot Scenic Byway, which starts at Cloudcroft and travels south near the Sacramento Mountains, is covered in aspens. It comes to a stop in Sunspot, which is a fitting title for a community that is home to two renowned national telescope observatories. 

The byway is known as State Road 6563. Believe it or not, this is the area many experts use to locate active regions from the sun, to further emphasize its connection to astronomical study. Although it is feasible to continue south via the Lincoln National Forest to a quaint town by the name of Timberon, most people come back via the same path to Cloudcroft. Also, don’t forget to stop in Ruidoso on the way back. Although ponderosa pines are the biggest feature, these trees make it easy to see aspen.

Along the Jemez Mountain Trail, travelers can travel from one ancient volcano crater to 13th-century Native American homes to a museum that displays the dawn of the atomic age, passing by flowing hot springs, crimson desert cliffs, and Rocky Mountain peaks. The 66-mile byway starts at San Ysidro, a pastoral community named for the patron saint of farmers, at the intersection of State Road 4 and U.S. 550, northwest of Bernalillo. It makes for a fun day trip to complete the entire path.

The start of autumn is the ideal time to travel because the air is cool, the colors are spectacular, and there is little traffic. Traveling across U.S. 64 through the Carson National Forest between Taos and Chama, through Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla, is an exciting experience the majority of the year, especially when snow begins to fall. Because of how beautiful Brazos Cliffs are, prepare to spend the entire day and stop frequently to take it all in.

Male bighorn sheep ram with large horns on a cliff.
If you’re lucky, you may see a bighorn sheep while viewing foliage in New Mexico’s high desert.

©Georgia Evans/

British Columbia

The rich color palette of autumn is a lovely way to celebrate the conclusion of summer. Due to the breathtaking scenery, autumn is actually one of the greatest times to travel to British Columbia. Sure, you should dress in a few more layers for the frigid nights, but during the day, there are frequently bright, sunny days and a plethora of blue skies. 

The huge Cariboo Region offers some breathtaking journeys for people looking for fall colors. For instance, the Fishing Highway, also known as Highway 24, runs across the South Cariboo from Little Fort to 100 Mile House. Alternately, travel from Quesnel to Barkerville on Highway 26 in the North Cariboo. Highway 97 is one more interesting route to take.

Stanley Park, which is close to downtown Vancouver, is a convenient and beautiful place to get your taste of fall foliage. Neighborhood excursions provide no less; see Gastown’s lush cobblestones and brick structures for example, or Kitsilano’s colorful streetscapes.

British Columbia is home to a wide variety of animals, including black bears like this female.

©Alan D. Wilson / Creative Commons


Visit Shovel Pass Lodge in Jasper National Park on horseback or on foot. This iconic Skyline Trail location’s historic lodge is open through Labor Day weekend. During the latter two weeks of October, when the 3000-foot ascent to the lodge is flecked with color, come to observe the larch needles start their transition. Your alpine trek will be filled with breathtaking stands of larch whether you choose the traditional 28-mile hike or the three-day horse-packing tour with Skyline Trail Rides.

To appreciate the splendor of fall in Waterton Lakes National Park, take to the trails on foot. Even while the scenery is usually stunning—green-coated mountains seem to burst from golden meadows at the edge of the prairie – the beauty is doubled in the fall when the leaves turn amber. Take a 7.8-mile hike along the Rowe Lakes trail to Upper Rowe Lake and take in the scenery as it transforms from lush, green woodland to an alpine meadow with tones of apricot. If you want to see the golden larch trees, climb up to Avion Ridge on your own initiative.

Keep your eyes open for wildlife like this gopher while you’re leaf-peeping in Alberta, Canada.

©Danny Nicholson / Flickr

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Aerial View of Lake San Cristobal in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in Autumn
© Paul Brady Photography/

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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