Aspen fall colors hit their peak |

Aspen fall colors hit their peak

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesThe Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake near Aspen were flanked in gold on Sunday.

ASPEN, Colorado ” The fall colors in Aspen don’t get any better. Or do they?

A look around the upper Roaring Fork Valley suggests the aspens are hitting their peak, blanketing the mountain slopes around Aspen in gold, but since the leaves don’t all turn color en masse, some popular leaf-peeping locales are further along than others. This past weekend was a prime chance to catch the colors, but the splendor should continue through the coming weekend, as well.

The slopes surrounding Maroon Lake and the Maroon Bells have gone gold, but enough swaths of verdant aspens remain to prolong the show, presuming a big wind, rain or snow doesn’t knock the leaves from the trees (no such event is forecast in the coming days).

The East Maroon Valley, on the other hand, appeared to be peaking on Sunday, with the massive aspen groves on both sides of the valley nearly a solid gold.

The upper Castle Creek Valley, south of Aspen, is also at its peak, displaying gold and pockets of the rarer red aspen leaves. Some stands of trees have already lost their leaves at the head of the valley, most of the rest are gold or quickly becoming so, with few swaths of green remaining.

Independence Pass, east of Aspen, may offer an extended display. A reconnaisance mission to the lower reaches of the pass on Saturday revealed enough gold to make the slopes spectacular, but there were plenty of trees yet to turn, as well.

In town, Aspen Mountain is crowned in gold, with some patches of green yet on the lower slopes, and gold is spilling into the green atop Red Mountain. Smuggler Mountain is at its prime.

On the outskirts of town, Buttermilk’s aspens are gold, with some trees on the upper slopes already barren of leaves; west Buttermilk is a mix of gold and green.

South of Carbondale, the peak display in the upper Crystal River Valley is probably yet to come. While the mountainsides near Marble are already photograph-worthy, the view from Highway 133 as it climbs McClure Pass should only get better. There were still plenty of aspens that had yet to turn as of Saturday.

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