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Best Things to do in Denver This Fall

Posted at 09/29/2021 04:15 PM by Pat O'Connor

what to do in fall in colorado

Autumn is truly a magical time in Colorado. Daytime temps in the 80s are common but the nighttime temperatures often drop into the low 50s and even 40s. Cool nights, warm days -- it really can’t be beaten! And you’ll even start to see snow on the higher peaks as well as frost warnings in the high country.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado!

As if the climate isn’t enough to get you outside, below are some of the best spots to enjoy during this vibrant time of year. Whether you are looking for a nice drive in the car, an energetic hike, or a chance to chill at a local watering hole, below are some favorite fall things to do in Denver.

Attend a University of Colorado Football Game

Regardless of your allegiance or how the Buffs are performing, there is no better setting than Folsom Field in Boulder. With the backdrop of the ever awe-inspiring Flatirons, this stadium rocks with America’s favorite mascot Ralphie VI leading the charge. This newbie is only 15 months old and weighs in at a mere 500 pounds. Despite her youth, Ralphie has stepped up to her responsibilities just fine. With her handlers in tow, she leads the team as they emerge from the tunnel down the field to the roar of the crowd. It’s an amazing sight to behold. Before or after the game, enjoy a stroll through the campus where you’ll revel in the architecture that has stood the test of time. In 1917, architect Charles Klauder was commissioned by CU leaders to create a campus master plan, resulting in the use of locally sourced sandstone and red tile roofs on all the campus buildings. This enduring, timeless look has been dubbed “Colorado Style” for good reason.

Hike Red Rocks

This site is as mesmerizing and iconic as it gets. Positioned on the west side of the Denver metro area in Morrison, Red Rocks is many things to many people. For some, it’s spectacular hiking; for others, it’s all about the music at the natural amphitheater. Whatever your pleasure, Red Rocks epitomizes Colorado’s great outdoors. You’ll marvel at the spires of red sandstone that reach into the sky from the foothills to create one of the most dramatic concert venues in the country. There are wonderful hiking trails in this Denver Mountain Park that boasts 640 acres. Any visit to Denver is incomplete without a stop at Red Rocks.

Explore LoDo

This electric neighborhood has come to define the regeneration of downtown Denver. Thirty years ago, the Wynkoop Brewery opened its doors and LoDo began its dramatic evolution from the dregs to a now desirable neighborhood in which to live and conduct business. Abandoned warehouses have given way to divine lofts. Shuttered brick buildings are now home to thriving restaurants and retail businesses. Visit the Wynkoop Brewery and enjoy the brews that began the craft brewery craze in the Mile High City.  If you visit Denver, LoDo is a must-stop. It’s history, charm, and vibe truly distinguish Denver as the brilliant city it’s become.

Peruse the Denver Art Museum

The scope and breadth of the work that is found at the Denver Art Museum is truly spectacular. Ranging from the standing collections of African to American Indian, Spanish Colonial to Asian pieces, the selection is mesmerizing.  Current exhibits include Simphiwe Ndzube (through 10/10), 19th Century European and American Art Galleries, and Memory Mirror.  And on Oct. 24, the Martin Building will be reopening after four years of renovations. Explore the seven floors of beautiful gallery spaces and outstanding inaugural exhibitions.

Visit Garden of the Gods

Although this landmark is located an hour south of Denver in Colorado Springs, it is so worth the drive. The grandeur of Garden of the Gods is on par with that of Red Rocks. This National Natural Landmark has been operated by the City of Colorado Springs since 1909 when it was bequeathed by the family of Charles Perkins. He purchased the 240 acres in 1879 and kept a summer home on the land until his death. Visitors enjoy this park completely free of charge. Drive through the park, stop along the way for short hikes and take lots of pictures in this stunning open space which features towering sandstone formations and dramatic views of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains.

Drive up to Mt. Evans/Idaho Springs

fall in colorado

Echo Lake, Mt. Evans | Photo by Usaj Realty

With fewer crowds and a great chance of seeing the latter stages of the changing aspens, this drive is one of the prettiest around. Make sure you make your reservation in advance.  Until October 3rd (weather permitting): Mt. Goliath and Summit Lake Park tickets will be the only available option. Mt. Evans (Hwy. 5) will be open from mile 1 (Echo Lake) to mile 9 (Summit Lake, elevation 12,830) through October 3, weather permitting. The road from mile 9 to mile 14 is closed for the season to motor vehicles.  But make sure you don’t delay -- the road above Echo Lake may be closed after the first weekend in October (subject to weather conditions). There are also some terrific hiking trails in this area -- Chicago Lakes and Rest House Trail to Lincoln Lake are two favorites that begin at Echo Lake. On your way down, stop at the Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs and soak in the natural mineral waters.

Explore the Colorado State Parks

Denverites are truly blessed to live in such close proximity to seven beautiful state parks. Regardless of where you live in the Denver metro area, it’s likely you’re less than a 20-minute drive to one of these recreational oases in the Front Range.

Enjoy a bike ride, hiking, boating, bird watching, and countless other pursuits at these well-managed facilities. Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 23 million acres across the state and a yearly parks pass ($80) allows you admittance into everyone. It’s one of the the best investments your can make for your soul and for Colorado’s legacy to its youth.

See the Fall Colors

For people living in the Denver metro area, keep in mind you don’t have to venture hours into the mountains to get the best vantage point. In fact, there are a number of routes that are less than an hour away that offer a prime color palette. See our list of places to catch fall colors here.

Check out the Brand New Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf just opened its third installation in Denver and it's sure to be a good time. With plenty of tickets available in October, their website describes it like this: "Convergence Station is unforgettable, transformational, and not to be missed. Discover immersive psychedelic, mind-bending art, and an underlying rich narrative as you take a journey of discovery into a surreal, science-fictional epic."

Head to a Pumpkin Patch

With dozens of pumpkin patches and fall events to choose from, the question is just which one to attend before Halloween! See our list of the best pumpkin patches here.

Grab a Drink on a Patio

Looking for a great spot with cozy outdoor seating? Or maybe somewhere with a fireplace? A few of our favorites are:

2021 Colorado Festivals and  Things to do This Fall

(Editor's note: This blog was originally published in September of 2018. It has been updated and edited to provide current information).

Posted by Pat O'Connor

Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys traveling, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs and "whooping it up" when the Packers win. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.

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Topics: Things to Do in Denver