Explore Colorado / Explore The Outdoors

First Fall Colors in Colorado

Boreas Pass near Breckenridge is usually one of the first places in Colorado, and the country, for the aspens to start putting on their vivid display of autumnal hues.  Normally, the golden aspens peaks around September 18-20 in that area.

My friend Kristen and I took her Jeep out for a ride up Boreas Pass last week to see if the rumors were true that fall was already starting.


But this year, fall is already showing her coat of many of colors.  It’s about 2-3 weeks too early, but because of the drought conditions and a hot summer, the distressed trees are already changing.  The surprise was how many trees were changing.

Top of Boreas Pass is 11,482′ high.  It’s about a 15 minute drive from downtown Breckenridge.  Along with beautiful alpine scenery, you also get to explore some of Colorado’s railroad history.  At one point, 150 people lived at Boreas Pass.  Besides the Section and Engine Houses, there were log cabins and storehouses.  There was even a post office.  It was the highest altitude post office in America in the late 1880s and closed in 1905.  The Denver South Park and Pacific Railway 63-mile section between Como and Leadville used about 5,500 tons of rail, 200,000 ties, and cost $1.1 million.  You can walk around the Section House, even stay in it during winter as part of Colorado’s Hut System. There’s also Ken’s Cabin and an outhouse open in winter.  Other buildings from Boreas Pass’s heyday are gone, including the Engine House which was lost in a fire in 1909.  The narrow-gauge boxcar at the top of the pass was built in 1910 in Denver by the Colorado & Southern Shop.  It 1943 it made its final run on the Leadville-Climax line.  It was then acquired by the U.S. Army and converted to a flatcar during World War II.  It then went to Alaska and was used on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad.  In 1987, it returned to Colorado and the U.S. Forest Service bought it in 2002 and moved it to Boreas Pass.

The clouds were starting to move in signaling a storm brewing so it was time for us to head down.  Driving back to Breckenridge, we stopped to enjoy the peaks in the distance.

We also made a stop at Bakers Tank and to enjoy a few more golden aspens.  It was a fun quick outing to see the first fall colors in Colorado.

2 thoughts on “First Fall Colors in Colorado

  1. Awesome pictures. I’m planning a family vacation to see the aspens and looks like I may need to arrive early. Based off you pics, do you think peak colors may be 2-3 weeks early as you mentioned in your article?

    • Normal peak in Breckenridge is Sept 18-20. With leaves already changing, especially above 10,000′ it’s going to be earlier this year. Already seeing good colors in other parts of Colorado like Kenosha Pass and Guanella Pass. Leaves will likely be fast to drop too with the drought.

Leave a Reply