Explore America / Explore Colorado

Fall in Vail: 3 Things to do While Leaf Peeping

A palette of autumnal hues is starting to blanket Vail, Colorado. While the golden aspens are the star, there is an array of colors from tangerine to scarlet to rust. Here’s three of my favorite things to do while leaf peeping in Vail. I did all of these in a day!

I love taking an early morning walk through the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. They are the highest botanical gardens in North America. The colorful flowers turn into a landscape of muted earth tones in the fall, with pops of vibrant gold from some aspens. You can learn about the plants to the calming sounds of the waterfalls. If you go early morning, you’ll likely have the gardens to yourself. It is free to visit the gardens.

As an avid hiker I’m always read to hit the trail. This trip I did an unique hike with Paragon Guides. My guided hike was led by Jim. There were two interesting participants with us. We hiked with llamas! We hiked about 6.5 miles on the Pitkin Trail. The aspens are beautiful, but the falls colors across the meadows and ascending up the peaks are equally beautiful. Jim led Franklin and I walked with Handies. I found it soothing and hilarious at the same time. Llamas hum and Handies is quite vocal. I fell in love with this gentle creature as we walked at a llama’s pace and soaked in the beauty of the landscape. On this guided Lunch with a Llama hike, Jim made us a great gourmet lunch. Hiking with a guide is a great way to find secret stashes of color and get away from crowds.

Taking a drive is a great way see to fall foliage. I love to take a road less traveled. Highway 24 near Vail is a scenic drive that extends for 30 miles between Minturn and Leadville. The road is filled with fall colors, mining history, beautiful landscapes and history of the 10th Mountain Division, a division of the U.S. Army that trained in Pando Valley and surrounding peaks during World War II. I’ve done it early morning, but this trip I decided to do a late day drive…twice!

Author Jennifer Broome loves exploring the Vail Valley and hiking in the Gore Range. Check out other blogs including hiking at Piney River Ranch and a two-night stay in Vail for more fun things to do and where to eat.