Autumn paints Colorado in a Palette of Colors
By Linda DuVal (Special Travel Writer to Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado
Autumn creeps across Colorado, swiping at stands of aspens, cottonwoods and scrub oak with its bright brush, starting at high altitudes and working its way down to the river valleys and foothills.
Sometimes it lingers; sometimes, it’s gone in a flash. No one can predict when and how long it will put on its brilliant show. But while it lasts, it’s glorious.
It’s time to book a few nights at a Colorado bed-and-breakfast inn which has been inspected and approved by high standards through Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of Colorado and take your chances on catching the annual
display of spectacular fall foliage.
Conejos River Ranch – The Conejos River Ranch was homesteaded by a Frenchman in 1894, says manager Shorty Fry. In 1913, local records called it Jacob’s Ranch and listed it as a fishermen’s lodge. It has had several owners over the years, mostly taking in guests, and gradually morphed into a full-fledged bed-and-breakfast inn after Leonard and Kathy Romero bought it in 2002.
Situated about 14 miles west of the tiny Southern Colorado town of Antonito, it’s far enough from anywhere that guests get breakfast with their lodging and can buy dinner, too – there aren’t a lot of other options in the area. It also opens its restaurant doors to the public, which happily takes advantage of it.
Fall is a great time to visit because “the colors are absolutely gorgeous, usually. And this year, with all the rain, they promise to be even better,” Fry says. Normally, the aspens start turning gold by mid-September and finish by mid-October, and the cottonwoods linger even
longer, and with brighter and more varied hues – orange, gold and scarlet.
Much of that color flames along the banks of the Conejos River, where fishing is the main draw. Few fishermen go away without a batch of rainbow or brown trout.
Other visitors go hiking, or drive into Antonito to catch the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which also does fall color rides until mid-October, usually. “It always depends on the weather,” Fry says. “We can get our first snow in mid-October, sometimes.” The lodge has eight rooms and an on-site rerstaurant. To find out about rates or make a reservation, call 719-376-2464 or go online to the Conejos River Guest Ranch.
Frisco Inn on Galena- Up in the high country – at 9,000 feet in Summit County – fall can come earlier. And leave earlier.
Aspens burst into gold almost overnight, surrounded by the reds and oranges of scrub oak and other shrubs,
then the flame is out. You don’t want to miss it.
Bruce Knoepfel, co-owner of the Frisco Inn on Galena in Frisco (near Breckenridge), has seen it come and go quite a few seasons. Before purchasing the inn with a partner in 2012, he owned another inn in the area.
“Frisco is a great town in the fall, surrounded by aspen forests in all directions,” he says. “The colors are magnified by the cobalt skies at this altitude. Frisco’s quaint, historic Main Street with its variety of wonderful shops and restaurants complement all of the fall activities available, whether it’s a hike in the forest, a bike ride on the 80-mile network of paved bike paths or unlimited mountain bike trails.”
It doesn’t hurt that there’s a huge lake nearby. “Lake Dillon is just down the street, (and)
offers a unique perspective of the colors from a sailboat, canoe or kayak (all available to rent). The inn has free bikes available for guests to ride around town. (Some) also enjoy a scenic drive on one of the many scenic byways in the area.”
Or catch an autumn celebration – the Frisco Fall Spectacular or Oktoberfest, both local favorites.
This spacious, comfy contemporary mountain inn has lots of room options, with 15 rooms ranging from two doubles to queens and kings, with flat-screen TVs in every room. They serve wine, cheese and other appetizers every afternoon, along with hearty gourmet breakfasts. There are also lots of great restaurants in the area. The inn also has spa services available, and fitness classes.
After the leaves are gone and the snow flies, they’re near great skiing and other winter sports, making the inn a terrific base camp all year round.
For fall splecials, to make a reservation or see pictures of rooms, visit the Frisco Inn on Galena.