Here we are at the end of another colorful fall season in the highlands of the Mountain West; 2017 did not disappoint. The star of this year’s show, as is the case most years in the west, are the Aspen trees. With shades and hues of yellow, red, orange and gold, the leaves in the high country (you can set your watch to this pattern) peaked from the last week of September to the first week of October in the high country. Mountain valleys came alive soon after and continue to be vibrant through the better part of October. Later in the month and into early November the lower valleys will show their colors, many are already in the process.
Fall is my favorite season so I make it a point to be on the road this time of year to either lead tours or take road trips through mountain ranges and high plateaus. This year was no exception. I lead two Grand Circle tours that include some of my favorite leaf-peeping routes. Here is a list of mountain passes and plateaus on the Grand Circle tour where fall is displayed in all its glory.
- Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (Hwy 9) through Zion National Park
- Kaibab Plateau, Highway 67 from Jacob Lake to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
- Mesa Top Ruins Road at Mesa Verde National Park
- Highway 550 San Juan Skyway/Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Ouray Colorado
- Colorado Highways 62 & 145 from Ridgeway to Norwood
- Utah Highway 12 from Torrey to Boulder Utah (Boulder Mountain/Aquarius Plateau)
- Highway 63 Bryce Canyon (Paunsaugunt Plateau)
- Highway 143 from Panguitch Lake to Cedar Breaks or Highway 14 from Long Valley Junction to Cedar City (Markagunt Plateau)
The San Juan Skyway from Durango to Ouray and Capitol Reef National Park were especially vibrant this year. The fruit orchards at Capitol Reef added a colorful contrast of red and orange to the glowing yellow and gold of the Fremont Cottonwoods backed by one of the bluest skies this side of the Milky Way.
Other fall drives I like include; Logan Canyon Utah, Wilson Pass Wyoming, Alpine Loop American Fork Canyon Utah, Wood River Valley Idaho, Ogden Canyon Utah, Dry Lakes Road Brian Head Utah, Capitol Reef National Park, Mirror Lake Highway Utah, and Grand Teton National Park just to name a few.
Click on the button below to see a few photos from this year’s fall tours.