FROM INFINITE HUES of color in the wildflowers to the shades of brown and gray contouring the jagged peaks of the Rockies and the fiery leaves of autumn announcing the coming of winter, Colorful Colorado lives up to its nickname. Every September, thousands of visitors flock to mountain passes and ski towns to breathe in the crisp air as they hike through changing colors. For the past six years, I have been lucky enough to explore Colorado in every season. I have fallen in love with a very particular short span of time, one when you can lie in a grove of aspen with an orange sky above, steady your heart to the sound of a calm breeze in the trees around you, and close your eyes to the gentle kiss of falling leaves on your face.

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Rocky Mountain National Park is a jewel in all seasons, but during the fall, the park has new life as elks bugle and visitors meander about the towering aspen trees. The sweet smell of pine sets the tone of nature here.

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Within the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen lies the well-known Maroon Bells. Here reflected in the calm waters of Maroon Lake. One of the most popular times to visit this area is during the fall, when the aspen covered hillsides turn a vivid golden yellow, adding another layer of natural beauty to an already breathtaking view.

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After continuing past Maroon Lake, there’s a hike along the popular trail to Crater Lake where you can get this kind of views. The aspen grove fills everything, leaving no penetrable spot to the other side. Aspens are incredible organisms because of their ability to reproduce through shoots and suckers which come from lateral roots. This results in a grove that’s completely connected underground, essentially forming a single organism.

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I overheard hikers around me speaking in different tongues when I took this picture. However, I knew we were all marveling at the same breathtaking sight. We stood agape, wondering how nature could create such a beautiful spectrum.

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Near the trailhead for Mount Bierstadt, my travel partner Anna and I began to recognize aspens are not the only vegetation which coin Colorado's colorful nickname. Shrubbery and grasses are juxtaposed against the snowy sky like embers against ash. The contrast of the whole scene is magnificent.

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Although from a distance they may appear to be a single color, the changing leaves often reflect the many hues of autumn. From blazing yellows to passionate reds and every color in between. Together the leaves create a stunning painting, but each one is its own crayon box.

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The colorful labyrinth of aspen trunks and the leaves crunching beneath every step are icons of every Colorado fall.

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A day trip from Denver led me to the mountain town of Vail. After driving up a small winding backroad, there’s an overlook that will give you a bird's eye view of the town and hillsides around.

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Just past Twin Lakes, on Independence Pass, there’s a clearing where you’ll stumble upon the Arkansas River. The aspens surrounding the creek tell the time of the year when this photo was taken.

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Nature has the innate ability to separate us from the bustling world of humans. The changing fall colors are only a small reason why anyone should strive to disconnect from the world to truly connect with nature and ourselves.

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Well-known for its fall colors and being close to Denver, Guanella Pass is a Colorado Scenic Byway with an entrance perched above Georgetown. Whether you’re wanting to view wildlife, get an early start on Mount Bierstadt, or take in the beauty of small quaking leaves changing from a bright green to golden yellow, Guanella Pass has a plethora of dispersed camping sites that can help you get away from the bustle of the city.

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Kenosha Pass is an easily accessible segment of the Colorado Trail and an incredibly popular spot to catch the aspens changing.

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In Kenosha Pass, you can get views like this just after opening your tent in the morning. There’s no better setting for boiling water to prepare morning tea and having a tasty breakfast surrounded by silence, taking in the changing world above you.

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