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If you’re looking for must-see things to do during the fall in Colorado then you’ve come to the right place! Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in this state.
It’s when the crazy summer heat is beginning to cool down but we haven’t been dumped on with snow yet.
It’s the perfect time to explore small-town festivals and enjoy outdoor fall activities. There are so many ways to get active while being outdoors.
Read on to learn more about the best fall events and festivals in Colorado, or listen to our podcast episode.
2021 update: Due to the pandemic, some of the events and festivals listed here are either cancelled or postponed. In addition, the state of Colorado has mandated that face masks be worn in public. Read on to find out more information about each event.
In this post:
Best fall festivals and events in Colorado
What team are you on? #TeamCider or #TeamPSL?
Ryan and I have a chat about what we think the real flavor of the season is…he thinks it’s cider and I love pumpkin spice everything!
Whether you’re #TeamCider or #TeamPSL, there are tons of festivals and fall activities to do in Colorado!
1. Elk Fest
Visit Estes Park, Colorado (at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National) Park for Elk Fest on October 3-4, 2020.
This festival celebrates the annual elk rut (or breeding season), known by the Native Americans as the “wapiti.”
This is a classic Colorado festival that many native Coloradans will remember from their childhoods!
2. Great American Beer Festival
Grown ups will enjoy the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado October 16-17, 2020.
This two-day festival showcases nearly 700 different Colorado breweries and thousands of beers available to taste and enjoy.
If you use the Untappd app, you will love checking bottles off the 2020 menu!
3. Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors
Car lovers can soak up a world-class automotive celebration and the stunning September foliage at the Telluride Festival of Cars and Colors in Telluride, Colorado.
This 2020 festival has been cancelled. But start planning your next trip fro September 23-36, 2021.
Collectors and enthusiasts can enter their car or motorcycle in the show.
And spectators of all ages can join in the fun during the Medallion Hunt, the photo contest, and more!
4. Local Farmers Markets
Foodies and #buylocal shoppers will enjoy the fall Farmers’ Markets. Most markets throughout the state run well into September and October and are open most days of the week.
This handy PDF from Colorado.gov summarizes all the farmers’ markets happening around Colorado. Find one near you!
5. Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival
While in Denver, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens Pumpkin Festival, October 9-11, 2020.
Tickets to the Chatfield Farms include access to the 10-acre pumpkin patch and lots of activities for the whole family, including:
- Local craft and artisan booths
- Live music daily
- Pony rides and horse-drawn hayrides
- And a mini-maze for kids!
Bring your own wagon to haul away your pumpkins!
And don’t worry: if you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin but you’re not ready to head home just yet, free pumpkin day care is available while you enjoy the rest of the farm.
Best nighttime fall festivals
Wanting a family night of fun? Check out the best fall festivals that happen at night here in Colorado.
6. Boo at the Zoo
Visit the original creatures of the night when you attend Boo at the Zoo at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in October!
This is a great evening activity for kids and adults alike. The whole family will enjoy dressing up in costume to visit the animals at the zoo.
It’s all treats and no tricks at the zoo this Halloween!
The Denver Zoo also offers its own spooky twist on Halloween at the zoo when you attend Enchanted Hollows in October!
Travel along an eerie trail at twilight as the forest comes alive with nocturnal noises. But don’t be scared, this is family fun for all ages.
7. Glow at the Gardens
Later in October, return to the Denver Botanic Gardens for their incredible Glow at the Gardens, a luminous nighttime celebration of America’s favorite gourd!
Running October 19-23, 2020 tour the gardens at night to see spooky lighting displays and hundreds of carved, lighted pumpkins.
All of the pumpkins are real and harvested from local farms to create incredible sculptures and unbelievably detailed jack-o-lanterns.
Bring a bag for trick-or-treating and stay for the glow-in-the-dark games and other fun activities!
Popular hikes and drives to enjoy fall in Colorado
If you’re looking for that fabulous fall foliage, head to the mountains in late September or early October. You will not be disappointed!
8. Glenwood Canyon
We highly recommend a fall visit to Glenwood Canyon, which we have featured in our guide to Glenwood Springs.
Turn off I-70 into the mountains, through Glenwood Canyon (like you’re headed to Aspen) to see all the trees changing near Frisco.
We make the trek every year in October to soak up the colors and really feel those fall vibes along the Colorado river!
You can’t go wrong with a drive through a canyon! Not only will you be surrounded by beautiful fall foliage, there’s always somewhere to pull off and go for a hike.
Hikes can vary from easy to moderate to rock-climbing-level of difficulty. So, pick a pace that works for you and enjoy yourself!
9. Sunshine Canyon
A favorite hike of ours in the fall is the Sunshine Canyon Trail near Boulder, Colorado.
This is a moderate difficulty out-and-back trail clocking in at 2.3 miles with only 300 feet of elevation gain.
This would be a great hike for older kids or people with dogs. Plus, the views of the city behind you are incredible!
10. Cripple Creek
Another great place to visit in the fall is Cripple Creek, Colorado. This historic gambling and mining town is on the southwest slopes of Pikes Peak.
It was once the hub for thousands of gold-seeking miners.
Today, it’s a cute little town with lots of fun activities in the fall, including train rides, a donkey herd, an old mine, and the Cripple Creek Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum!
11. Peak to Peak Highway
A can’t-miss drive for fall foliage is the Peak to Peak Highway. Starting in Estes Park, this 55 mile journey will carry you through Allenspark and onto the town of Nederland.
You’ll continue through Blackhawk until the highway ends at Interstate 70.
Set aside about 2 hours for the journey (plus more if you take frequent stops for pictures, snacks, and shopping in the many towns along the highway!).
Before the snow turns this town into the famed ski resort, head up to Breckenridge to enjoy the fall season.
This town has plenty to offer in the still-off season, including a Wine Classic, Oktoberfest, and Spirits Festival.
Not to mention, there are tons of outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing. And of course, the stunning fall foliage.
13. Woodland Park
But, you don’t have to go all the way up into the mountains to see the leaves change. In Colorado Springs’ backyard is the smaller town of Woodland Park, Colorado.
If you’re looking for a relaxing place to experience nature and wildlife, we love that Woodland Park is a perfect fall hideaway.
It also has some of the best free campsites for RVing that we enjoy visiting.
Fall foods and foodie festivals in Colorado
There are some fall foods that every native Coloradoan just can’t resist. And newcomers will quickly be hooked too!
14. Palisade Peach Festival
There is nothing like a Palisade peach in the fall. Load up on these local peaches for some ah-may-zing peach cobbler, peach chutney on pork chops, or just eat them fresh.
In the harvest season, you’ll find plenty of squashes, like pumpkin and butternut squash.
My favorite flavor of fall is sage, which gives an earthy, homey flavor to those warm and filling dishes we all love this time of year.
Fun fact: There are lots of kinds of sage that grow natively in Colorado and can be eaten straight off the bush.
15. Happy Apple Farm
Growing up, a childhood favorite of mine was an annual visit to Happy Apple Farm in Penrose, Colorado (near Pueblo).
At this pick-your-own fruit farm, you can bring home fresh fruit as well as jams, jellies, donuts, and cider from the country store.
16. Morrison Cider Festival
Every September you can head to Morrison, Colorado (southeast of Denver) for the Morrison Cider Festival. However, the 2020 event has been cancelled and is expected to come back in 2021.
Enjoy free admission for hot mugs of apple cider and activities like horseshoe tournaments, pony rides, and live music.
Hard ciders are also available to sample for a fee for adults.
17. Chile & Frijoles Festival
Celebrate Pueblo, Colorado’s famous green chile at the Chile & Frijoles Festival, September 26-27, 2020.
Throughout late August and early September, you’ll often see chefs charring green chiles in barrel drums outdoors.
But come fall time, there’s no better place to partake of Pueblo’s favorite food than this festival.
Stay for the cooking competitions, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, and the farmers’ market!
18. Applefest in Cedaredge
Typically, on the first full weekend of October you can enjoy the Applefest in Cedaredge, Colorado. It’s on your way toward Grand Junction and Palisade.
The event has been cancelled for 2020 but is expected to return in 2021.
And it’s home to row after row of apple trees. Applefest has more than 150 vendors, and features a classic car and antique tractor show, and live music.
There is even a beer stein holding competition for those over 21. It’s a five-hour drive from Denver, but so worth the journey for a real small-town fall feel.
Fall festivals and activities on the Front Range
If you’re looking for traditional fall festivals and autumns activities, check out the fun events all along the Front Range.
19. Rock Creek Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze
Kids and adults will love the Rock Creek Farm Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Broomfield, Colorado.
This is one of the largest pumpkin patches in the state and boasts over 100 acres of pumpkins to pick!
There are three corn mazes to choose from, including one that traces 5 miles of maze across 30 acres of field.
Rock Creek Farm opens at the beginning of October in 2020 and remains open through Halloween.
20. Punkin Chunkin
You don’t want to miss the Punkin Chunkin festival in Aurora, Colorado!
Sadly for 2020 the event has been cancelled, but will hopefully be back next year, where you’ll get a front row seat to all the punkin chunkin competition.
Competitors will shoot pumpkins with cannons, fling them with catapults, and generally throw some gourds around.
Come for the chunkin, stay for the chainsaw-carving, the you-pick pumpkins, live music, crafts, and food and beverage vendors.
21. Oktoberfest Denver
Beer lovers can rejoice thanks to the Oktoberfest Denver festival. The next event will be held on two weekends in September 2021.
Get free admission and more than just beer (although the beer selection is incredible!).
All ages will enjoy the dachshund derby, costume contests, food booths, polka dancing, and live music.
22. Parade of Homes
As the summer winds down, we personally love to check out the Springs Parade of Homes.
Hosted in August in both Colorado Springs and Denver, this is a fun way to see some of the amazing homes that have been built in Colorado.
You’ll see unique features that most traditional homes don’t have, like secret doorways behind bookcases and trapdoors to movie theaters!
When it comes to fall activites in Colorado, it’s a blast no matter what you do. So head for the mountains, eat your fill, or explore spooky new places.