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The Best U.S. Fall Color Forests, 10 Exceptional North American Fall Color Spots

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Independence Pass and Leadville, Colorado
Fall Aspens and Mt. Elbert, CO

Fall Aspens and Mt. Elbert, CO

Photo by Jim Zornes
Independence Pass and Leadville, Colorado

Overview: The San Isabel National Forest displays the best aspen viewing in North America. In the shadow of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's tallest mountain, you will find some of the largest stands of aspen anywhere and a railroad to get you to them.

Leadville, Colorado is headquarters to the U.S. Forest Service's San Isabel's Ranger District. Leadville is located in quaking aspen country and promoted as the highest incorporated city in the continental United States. This mining town is also home to the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad, a must-see touring train that climbs to the Continental Divide through thick stands of aspen.

Just south of Leadville is the lake country and State Highway 82 that takes you to Independence Pass. The highway is a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway and maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Though it is paved road, the road can be narrow and winding and difficult to travel in poor weather. Still, it can give you the best aspen viewing in the United States.

Viewing Dates: Early viewing begins in September in most of the San Isabel National Forest. The fall viewing peaks in early October and wains through the end of the month.

Trees of Show: Aspen

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TopoZone Map of Leadville, Colorado

  • The San Isabel National Forest
  • Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad Fall Tour
  • Colorado National Forests and Parks
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    2. Education
    3. Forestry
    4. Identifying Your Trees
    5. Tree Physiology
    6. Fall Foliage and Color
    7. Independence Pass and Leadville, Colorado - Best Spots to See Fall Color

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