The 7 Best Things To Do In Colorado In September

The Aspire Team
March 25, 2024

In Colorado, winter and summer get all the love. Don’t get us wrong — it’s for good reason — with world-class mountains and slopes, and although brief, a stunning, sun-drenched summer.

But here at Aspire we have a soft spot for fall.

Call us basic all you want, but there’s just something special about that so-called “shoulder season.” It’s calm, quiet, and uncrowded. Leaves rusting over trailheads bustling. The smells, the sights, the sounds — fall in Colorado isn’t to be slept on, and we’re here to tell you why.

September signals the changing of the guard, with orange, yellow, and red hues telling us Winter is Coming. And with it — tourists.

Here are 7 reasons you need to embrace fall. Join us, we’ll show you why.

Peep Some Leaves

New England seems to get all the love for its famous falls and pumpkin-spiced lattes, but Colorado has some of the best fall foliage in the country. Why? Particularly, it’s thanks to the aspen groves found on many scenic drives throughout the state and in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Aspens are famous for their white trunks and vibrant yellow leaves that start popping in mid-September. But they don’t last long so don’t miss out!

Aspire Tip: In our book, nothing beats Rocky Mountain National Park or fall colors, specifically along the Peak to Peak Highway (we change our tour route into the park to maximize the fall colors). We’ll take you to the best groves! Our Rocky Mountain National Park or Scenic Mount Blue Sky (fka Mt. Evans) tours are perfect for seeing fall colors in bloom. We can even do a private tour of Guanella Pass!

The Elk Rut

Elk with a 10-point rack in Rocky Mountain National Park
This elk with a 10-point rack is unfazed by snow flurries in Rocky Mountain National Park

While you’re in Rocky Mountain National Park, be on the lookout for some frisky elk. While fall might get us in a good mood, it has the local elk population feeling freaky. Yes, fall is mating season for elk, formally known as the elk rut.

During this time, you’ll hear the famous, haunting bugle of bull elk. The rut is a fascinating process, broken down here by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. And yes, we know your hopes are now up to see two bull elk battle it out for a harem. We get it!

Aspire Tip: Moraine Park is our favorite spot to watch elk during the rut, but you’ll have to arrive early to get a spot. Or, join us on a tour and we’ll take you to them.

Go For A Hike!

All you need is a light jacket at elevation to enjoy hiking Colorado in September

In our humble opinion, fall is the absolute best time to hike in Colorado. The colors change the landscape and offer a unique point of view. As the leaves fall, you not only gain that satisfying crunch underfoot but also new vantage points and enhance views normally blocked by foliage.

Since it’s cooled down this time of year, shade isn’t as big of a priority/blessing, and the sunshine and extra views are welcomed. Not only that — but hiking in fall is much less touristy, so you won’t have to compete with the summer crowds. You might have to break out the pants and long sleeves, but it’s worth it!

Aspire Tip: Colorado is a hiker’s dream. We’re spoiled but THAT’S WHY WE LIVE HERE. We have many favorite fall hikes, feel free to ask us for tips or hop on one of our hiking tours to see for yourself!

Visit the Garden of the Gods

Escape the crowds by visiting Colorado Springs' exquisite Garden of the Gods in fall

We love Garden of the Gods any time of year, but fall is extraordinary for this otherworldly landscape. There’s nothing quite like a sunrise or sunset at GotG, but daytime is pretty darn stellar as well. Good news — we can take you there.

You’ll notice the theme here, but fall in Garden of the Gods is much less crowded than the peak summer months. Sometimes, you might be lucky enough to feel like you have the place to yourself.

Aspire Tip: Whoops, we already dropped the link above. But did we mention you can check out Pikes Peak via the Cog Railway on our tour as well? It’s a two-for-one!

Raise A Pint (Or Two)

Well now this writer is just thirsty. Denver is famous for its beer for good reason!

It’s no secret that Colorado loves its beer. And September/fall is the perfect time to enjoy a frosty beverage.

First, you can grab your lederhosen and dirndl as September — yes, September — means it’s time for Oktoberfest. Colorado can’t quite rival the real deal in Munich, but we do have a pretty darn good beer scene here too, and Denver’s Oktoberfest is pretty legit.  

Then, there’s also Denver Beer Week with more than 100 beer-related events followed by the granddaddy of them all, the Great American Beer Festival. So many beers, so little time!

Aspire Tip: Want a great way to check out some of Colorado’s finest brews AND sneak in some sights? Try one of our brews and views tours! We’ll even be your DD! Pace yourselves, and mind the altitude.

Take a Dip In A Hot Springs

There’s nothing quite like a good soak in a hot spring on a crisp fall day, especially after a day on the trail or in nature. Colorado is blessed to have numerous hot springs all over the state some are more commercial with a full spa experience while others are a bit more natural and off-grid, giving you that true wild experience.

There’s no wrong way to enjoy a hot spring, just know that cooler temperatures and fall offer the perfect time to enjoy a soak!  

Aspire Tip: We can take you on private hot springs tours! Let us take you to our favorite hidden gems.

Find a Fall Festival

Join the locals at a festival to enjoy Colorado's quaint towns, like Idaho Springs above

There are fall festivals all over our beautiful state to check out! From the previously mentioned Oktoberfest and Elk Fest to the Pueblo Chile & Frijoles Fest and Boulder’s Fall Fest, there are several fun fall festivals that kick off in September.

You can also find apple picking, pumpkin patches, and other fun activities you associate with fall.

Aspire Tip: Fall festivals are a great way to explore a new part of the state and find entertainment for the whole family. Do some research and find one that fits your schedule!

Want to Join Us?

Whether you’re looking for leisure activities or some cooled-down adventure, Colorado has it. And fall is our favorite season to get after it all. Check out our many available tours to see if we can help you seize a beautiful fall day or head on out into the wild on your own. Just grab your favorite flannel and Go All Out™!


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