Sep 6, 2023 - News

When to see peak fall colors in Colorado for 2023

Data:; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

The arrival of fall this month means the aspens are beginning to turn bright yellow in Colorado's high country.

Why it matters: The cooler temperatures and stunning foliage make September one of the best times to get outside.

State of play: This year's wet weather may lead to a brighter-than-normal pop of color in the Colorado mountains, meteorologists suggest.

  • The mountains near Steamboat are starting to see colors change, but this year's fall foliage may come later than normal, according to the forecast from travel brand, which uses historical weather reports, tree species info and other data to make its predictions.

What to watch: The best week for most of northern and central Colorado may come Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, the website's forecasters report.

  • Denver and the Front Range could reach peak color the following week, and the whole state will see fall colors by Oct. 16.

Yes, but: Local meteorologists are forecasting an earlier peak period, roughly from Sept. 15-20 for Steamboat and Rocky Mountain National Park and Sept. 17-Oct. 1 for Vail south to Gunnison.

  • The San Juan Mountains in the south will come alive with color in late September to mid-October.

How it works: The green color in leaves comes from chlorophyll, the pigment that helps plants turn sunlight into energy via photosynthesis, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum writes.

  • As nights get longer and there's less sunlight in the fall, leaves stop making chlorophyll.
  • The green color fades and the yellows, oranges, reds or purples become visible.

Of note: Your window to view the bright hues might be trickier to predict, as climate change impacts when leaves change β€” and how colorful they get.


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