Leaf peeping season kicks into high gear

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Earlier this week, colors were just starting to change upriver. Schedule your leaf peeping drive soon! Lucas Turner Photo

RBC | As fall officially begins and the aspens start putting on a spectacular show, Colorado’s “leaf peeping” season also kicks into high gear. While the stunning display is worthy of the annual crowds drawn to some of the state’s most scenic trails, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds those on the search for the state’s specific autumn gold to keep trail etiquette and caring for Colorado top of mind. 

When heading out to the vast outdoors to find the perfect view of colorful Colorado, it’s important to note that many of the Care for Colorado principles apply before you make the drive. 

Know Before You Go

Spend some time planning your trip and avoid any potential disappointment. Think about the following questions and do some research before heading out to our parks and trails.

Lucas Turner Photo
  • Are the colors at their prime? 
  • Where is the best spot for your abilities and available timeframes for viewing? 
  • Will you need a daily vehicle pass or permit?
  • If the parking area is full, move on to the next designated parking area. 
  • Ensure you’ve downloaded the Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app to find a great Plan B if you need one!

Stick To Trails

While it’s tempting to find a new and unique spot to photograph, or to move to areas with a few less people, it’s important for our plants, trails and visitors that you stay the trail.

  • Help natural areas stay natural by sticking to designated trails. 
  • Respect trails closed for maintenance, vegetation projects or wildlife reasons. We all love our flora and fauna, so keep them healthy for your family’s future hikes!
  • Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts — that extra time in nature is what you are there to enjoy. 

Trash Your Trash

If you’ll be spending time wandering through Colorado’s colors, you’re likely to need a drink, a snack or to tend to your pet’s needs. Don’t bring anything with you that you can’t pack out.

  • Peeping for color doesn’t include wrappers or bottles along the trail. Put litter, dog waste, and even crumbs, peels and cores in the nearest waste/recycling bin — or pack it out until you can find one.
  • Bring an extra bag or two to help leave the area better than you found it. 

Leave It As You Find It

In this busy season, it’s especially important to only park in designated areas — undesignated parking destroys vegetation and encourages those coming up behind you to continue the trend. With over 40,000 miles of trails in Colorado, you can be sure to find the right spot by planning ahead.

Lucas Turner Photo
  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items as you find them so others can experience the same joy of discovery.
  • Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them, and also impacts the experiences of your fellow hikers and leaf peepers for years to come!

Keep Wildlife Wild 

While you may be hoping to spot the perfect cascade of yellow aspens, part of your experience may include seeing wildlife in their homes. Enjoy the moment by keeping your distance, using your zoom and letting our wildlife be wild!

  • Never feed wild animals — from the smallest chipmunk to the largest bear, feeding them human food alters natural behaviors and can make them sick or dependent.
  • Harassing wild animals may also increase the chance of a poor interaction including charges or attacks, feeding wildlife may expose animals to predators, and either case may even lead to euthanasia.

Share Our Trails and Parks 

Please be courteous and patient when on your journey! This is one of the busiest times of the year on our trails, so please be patient with other visitors and the staff working to help everyone have a great experience outdoors. 

  • You’re out to mine gold, not to people watch, so try out some new or lesser — known paths and sites found on the COTREX app.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to the uphill hiker and biker — they need the momentum and good etiquette is always in season.
  • Remember to bring face coverings and hand sanitizer, and try to move to single file or take your time to leave six feet of space between hikers if possible. 

“We want everyone to have a great time experiencing the colors and the natural resources our whole state has to offer,” said Farrow. “No matter where you plan to peep, be respectful of those resources, the staff helping you have a great experience, and your fellow recreationists out searching for Colorado gold.” 

For additional tips on planning for fall’s color changes in Colorado, visit cpw.state.co.us

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