Golfers and Leaf Peepers Celebrate!

Colorado Fall Colors in the Rocky Mountains Near Telluride
The sun illuminates the fall colors in Telluride, Colorado.

To the surprise of nary a single resident or longtime visitor, Colorado’s Western Slope in autumn is an “Ohhh!” promoting, palette-exploding display of nature’s more astonishing landscapes. Starting in September, those shimmering yellows, golds, auburns, greens, blues and browns begin their glorious turns of color, a telltale precursor to winter’s chills and snow-laden thrills.

Where to view this supernatural splendor and, at the same time, take in a round or two of Bertha-busting golf? Consider these four superlative options:

1. The San Juan Skyway is a breathtaking, 232-mile loop in the state’s southwest corner, transporting leaf-peeping aficionados from Durango to Dolores, Telluride, Ridgway and then — from Ouray to Silverton to Durango — over an unforgettable, white-knuckle ribbon known simply as the Million Dollar Highway. In Telluride, take advantage of a free gondola ride that offers inspiring panoramas of aspen-laced canyons and ridgelines. Golf tip: Semi-private Telluride Golf Club is a 6,574-yard beast celebrated for its 14,000-foot vistas of the San Juan Mountains.

2. Views of singular, top-of-the-world peaks come fast and furious via North America’s highest continuously paved road — 12,183-foot-high Trail Ridge Road — which serpentines through Estes Park, flirts with the headwaters of the Colorado River in Rocky Mountain National Park, then reaches a grandiose climax at the state’s largest natural lake, Grand Lake. Golf tip: Swing for the stars at Grand Elk Golf Club in Granby, a high-altitude design crafted by Craig Stadler and Tripp Davis.

Grand Elk during the fall
Grand Elk during the fall

3. Double your pleasure on a trip to Aspen: First traverse 8,762-foot-high McClure Pass and bask in the stunning vistas of the Elk Mountains, then motor into Aspen’s adjacent White River National Forest to witness one of the world’s most iconic mountains, the 14,000-foot Maroon Bells. Golf tip: Many of the area’s highly ranked courses are members only, however a great test awaits at semi-private Ironbridge Golf Club (Arthur Hills/Tom Lehman) near Glenwood Springs.

Ironbridge Golf Club Aspen
Ironbridge Golf Club

4. Rabbit Ears Pass in northwest Colorado receives considerable fall-foliage fanfare, but make time to drive Buffalo Pass just west of Steamboat Springs. This eight-mile dirt road up the Continental Divide offers eye-candy aspen glades and a Nikon-prompting payoff at Summit Lake. Golf tip: Haymaker Golf Course (Keith Foster), owned by the City of Steamboat Springs, is one of four terrific tests in this premier, four-season destination.

Haymaker Golf Course
Haymaker Golf Course

More Photos:

The San Juan Mountains


Maroon Bells in Aspen during the fall


Aspen shines brightest in the Autumn months


A golfer tees off in Telluride during the fall


Steamboat Springs is Sensational in Summer

Play Telluride, Crested Butte, Gunnison and Durango

2016 CAGGY Award Winners

Grand County is Rocky Mountain Majesty

Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.