Summer is coming to an end and some of us, (or maybe it’s just me) are ready for the sauna to turn off and cool down. If you reside in the south, you probably relate.
One of my favorite spots to escape to for a real fall experience (because Texas doesn’t have one) is Maroon Bells. Timing is key. If you don’t go the first week of October, you might as well wait until next year.
Arguably, some of the most vibrant colors you will see are in a sweet spot in Aspen, Colorado. It’s hit or miss however. I’ve made the mistake of going the second week of October when the crowds die down, and I regretted it the entire trip. Sure, there was some yellow left, but most of the Aspen trees had already shed their colorful layers, leaving you to walk over them on the ground.
The crown jewel of an Aspen trip during the first week of October is Maroon Bells– the most photographed peaks in North America.
When to book:
End of August, beginning of September
Where to stay:
Snowmass, Colorado (Yep, not Aspen)
Depending on when you book, it’s actually cheaper to stay in Snowmass than Aspen. The closer you are to the action, the more expensive things become (especially the first week of October.)
Typically, I Airbnb my way around, but on rare occasion and depending on how many people you travel with, you can strike gold at a hotel. Personally, I don’t pay much attention about the quality when I know I’m going to be out and about hiking, biking, photographing, ATV riding, insert activity.
Time Maroon Bells:
It’s no secret this is a popular destination the first week of October. People flock from all over the country to see the beautiful colors in full force, lasting just a short period of time.
Sunset: Plan your trip accordingly. Go early to secure your unobstructed view of the peaks because tripods will be abundant. There’s nothing worse than getting to Maroon Bells and having nowhere to set up camp for the beautiful sunset. The sun will be shining directly in your face, but for a brief moment, the sun will hit the peaks and allow you see amazing colors as the sun continues to set behind Maroon Bells.
Sunrise: Often times this is my favorite. Not a lot of people choose to wake up super early to get to Maroon Bells. Your planning will be rewarded for this because you get to enjoy being in nature vs surrounded by a significant amount of people.
If you can, try and do both. The experiences are equally amazing, yet completely different.
Other activities besides Maroon Bells:
- Rent a bike: Pedal through the mountains on a bike path from Snowmass to Aspen, roughly 15 miles. This could take you about 1-4 hours depending on your ability to acclimate to the elevation, and your fitness abilities. Be prepared for breathtaking views
- Vespa rentals: Scoot your way around Aspen and Snowmass and between the two with ease. Take in the sites and colors and find hidden spots you might otherwise miss in the car.
- Hike: Of course, there is a plethora of trails to checkout in the Aspen / Snowmass region. I’m no hiking expert, but if you’re up to the task, my go-to hiking suggestion is always AllTrails: https://www.alltrails.com/us/colorado/aspen. They have a mobile app with user submitted photos, descriptions, and other tips you may need to know about hikes from others who have gone before you.