As other states start fussing over who has the better fall foliage — really, Arizona, trash-talking Vermont?! — Coloradans simply pack up their cameras and head out for the annual display that sets the gold standard for leaf peeping. You don’t have to go far to find aspen ablaze with orange and yellow or maples and oaks that turn orange and red. Head to the mountains in the next week or so, though, as the leaves have begun to change already. Here are five Colorado towns about to be transformed by fall colors, and a few ideas for what to do when you get there.
The view: Just because the Maroon Bells are the most photographed peaks in North America doesn’t mean you can’t get a shot of them, too. They’re popular for a reason — two 14ers snug against each other, surrounded by the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest, with their reflections clearly defined in the shimmery lakes beneath them. It’s easier to get in and out via shuttle from Aspen Highlands during the peak season through Oct. 6 ($6 adults, $4 ages 6-16, seniors); otherwise, you have to pay $10 to take your own car the 10 miles up Maroon Creek Road from Aspen Monday-Thursday. (bus access-only 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday) and fight for a parking space.