Autumn is arriving in the Rocky Mountains, which means cooler temperatures, cozier clothes, and of course, the leaves! Across Colorado and Idaho, the leaves are changing from a bright green to beautiful hues of gold, orange, and even red. The aspen trees begin to change their color mid-September and almost quicker than they arrive, they fall. If you’re staying with us at any of our properties in Aspen, CO, Snowmass, CO, Ketchum, ID, or Denver, CO during mid to late September, then consider yourself lucky. Here are some of the best leaf-peeping spots surrounding our hotels. 

Aspen, CO

It’s named Aspen for a reason. Limelight Aspen is located in the heart of town and is super close to plenty of trails, roads, and more to view the changing leaves. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for Aspen, CO.


Ashcroft is located 11-miles outside of the city of Aspen and boasts 360-degrees of Aspen groves. In addition to the area being a gorgeous spot in the mountains, it’s also a famous ghost town with a lot of history. Here, you can view the remnants of what used to be an old hotel, saloon, and even post office while taking in the scenery. To get here, you’ll need a vehicle. If you don’t have a car of your own, be sure to chat with our front desk about our complimentary 2-hour Audi test drives. 

Smuggler Mountain Road

Smuggler Mountain Road is a popular trail in town that shows off a wonderful view of the town as well as Aspen Mountain. It’s about a 3-mile round trip trek to the observatory and back. Perfect for a light afternoon hike, Smuggler Mountain only takes between 1-2 hours to complete. Start out in the late morning or early afternoon and finish up at some of Aspen’s best lunch spots including Meat and Cheese, White House Tavern, or Aspen Tap for a beer and pizza.

Aspen Mountain

Aspen Mountain isn’t just for skiers. In mid-September, the mountain lights up with golden leaves all around. Depending on your favorite way of getting around, there are a few ways to access the top of the mountain. Like a challenging hike? Take the Ute Trail to the top and have a rewarding lunch and beer at the Sundeck. Looking for something more relaxing? Take the Silver Queen Gondola located a few blocks east of the hotel. Note that in autumn, the gondola only runs on weekends. Another way to explore Aspen Mountain is via a vehicle with four wheel drive. Whatever your preferred mode of exploration, this mountain has the option waiting for you!

Snowmass, CO

Snowmass, Colorado is a mountain wonderland of trails, peaks, and in autumn, miles of changing aspen leaves. Snowmass isn’t too far from Aspen, meaning that any of the suggestions mentioned above will also be great if you are staying with us at Limelight Snowmass. Here are some of our favorite places to view the leaves in Snowmass.

Maroon Bells

This spot is famously the most photographed in Colorado, and for good reason. Once autumn officially hits the mountains, the Bells light up. Note that parking is limited to a reservation system and is first-come first-served. Book parking and shuttles ahead of time as this is a very popular area. Another great way to visit the bells is via bike or e-bike. Four Mountain Sports in Aspen Highlands offers daily rentals. Call ahead of time for availability. 

Elk Camp

Located just steps from Limelight Snowmass is the Elk Camp Gondola and the start of the Elk Camp Trails. Whether you’re feeling a relaxing gondola ride up or a challenging hike, this area will be a great spot to view all of the leaves. Once you get to the top, either by gondola or by foot, enjoy lunch and a beverage at the restaurant at the top. Note that the gondola only runs on the weekends, so please plan accordingly. 

Snowmass Bike Park

The Snowmass Bike Park is open on weekends until early October and is home to miles upon miles of trails for experts and novices alike. The bike park’s trails go through groves of golden leaves come mid-September, and is a thrilling way to take in the views!

Ketchum, ID

Limelight Ketchum is located downtown and adjacent to Sun Valley. Once Autumn hits, the surrounding Wood River Valley, which includes Ketchum and Sun Valley, lights up with gorgeous fall colors. Here are some of our favorite ways to view the foliage.

Sawtooth Scenic Byway

The Sawtooth Scenic Byway is an amazing way to explore the surrounding area and get a diverse fall experience. The towering Sawtooth peaks and the bright leaves will leave you in awe. The byway runs 117 miles from Bellevue to Stanley and truly shows off the beauty of our Idahome. If you don’t have a car, inquire with our front desk about our 2-hour complimentary Audi test drives.

Proctor Mountain Loop

In the mood for a challenging, yet rewarding, hike? Proctor Mountain Loop is a popular trail near town that shows off panoramic views of Bald Mountain and the changing aspen trees. Once done, celebrate with happy hour at our lounge from 3 pm-6 pm.

Silver Creek

Idaho is famous, among many other things, for its rivers. If you’re an avid fly fisher, or just love enjoying time by the water, drive down to Silver Creek where the bright fall colors both glow and reflect on the water. Silver Creek is located south of Bellevue in Picabo, approximately 45 minutes from downtown Ketchum. 

Denver, CO

Limelight Denver is located downtown, and within driving distance to some gorgeous leaf-peeping sights. If you’re staying with us at Limelight Denver and want to make a day trip out of seeking some fall foliage, here are some options.

Kenosha Pass

If you’re in the mood for a drive through some lesser known Colorado areas, Kenosha Pass along highway 285 is a great option for leaf peeping and wildlife sightings alike. Highway 285 will take you through Bailey, Conifer, and Aspen Park, a few small but cute towns in Colorado. You’ll see towering pines sprinkled with soon-to-be golden aspen trees.

Golden Gate State Park

Golden Gate State Park’s name does it justice. Located about an hour outside of Denver, this park contains miles of different hiking trails as well as fall foliage, mountain views, and more. Make a day trip out of it by bringing a picnic to enjoy lunch among the aspen leaves! 

Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’re visiting Denver and have the time for an excursion, Rocky Mountain National Park is a bucket list location. Also located about an hour outside of the city, RMNP is the perfect area to get both your mountain fix and leaf peeping fix. Note that park entrance is on a reservation system and that this time of year is particularly popular. View their website in advance to learn more about their entrance system.

About Julia Aldrich