2019 marks the 160th anniversary of the Colorado Gold Rush, and while settlers originally migrated west in hopes of striking gold, travelers today head to the state to strike it rich with adventures during Colorado’s golden season: autumn. There’s no better time to visit the Centennial State than during the fall months. The days are sunny and warm, while the nights are cool and crisp. Across all four corners of the state, the landscape shimmers with a vast array of fall colors. Here are 12 of the best events for you to enjoy the season and Colorado’s brilliant fall foliage.
Fall tarantula migration on the Comanche National Grassland, La Junta
September to October
Each fall, Colorado’s Arkansas Valley becomes an arachnophobe’s nightmare. During this time, thousands of tarantulas migrate through the area during their mating season. Generally, this peaks sometime in mid-October. The best place to spot this natural phenomenon is on Highway 71, just north of Ordway, as well as on Highway 109, between La Junta and the town of Kim.
Trinidad’s delightfully quirky ArtoCade will roll through historic downtown in a parade of “artfully enhanced” cars, motorcycles, bikes, trikes, scooters, tractors and golf carts. There’s a lot packed into the two-day festivalincluding an ArtoKids booth for hands-on kiddie fun, a circus-like dance party called Cardango and meet-and-greets with the event’s “cartists.”
Pedal the Plains
Pedal the Plains is more than a bicycle tour; it’s a traveling party packed with boot-stomp’n live music, beer gardens, delicious locally sourced food, interactive educational exhibits and a touch of country fun. The 2019 ride host communities include Holly, Springfield and Lamar.
Snowmass Wine Festival, Snowmass
A long-standing fall tradition, the Snowmass Wine Festival features a weekend of wine tasting and pairing dinners hosted by the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village. Friday evening features a wine pairing dinner, while the Saturday highlight is a three-hour grand tasting event with wines from all over the world.
Historic OHV Tour, Buena Vista
Riders will can experience four days of self-guided tours through the awe-inspiring backcountry of the Collegiate Peaks range with 12 14,000-foot mountains during Buena Vista’s OHV Fall Color Tour, Sept. 17-21, 2019. Participants will immerse themselves in the fall foliage during these self-guided tours and will also explore old mining camps and ghost towns via high mountain passes where gold and silver ore were carried by mule wagons to the railroads.
FORToberfest, Fort Collins
Fortoberfest, Downtown Fort Collins’ last music festival of the summer, features a full day of live music on the Choice Organics stage, seasonal microbrews from Odell and High Country Beverage, wine from Wilbur’s Total Beverage and regional German-themed cuisine.
Mountain Harvest Festival, Paonia
Head to Paonia to celebrate this everything-local harvest. From agricultural producers to artists, writers and crafters, this is a true local event. Live music will be playing throughout the four-day event, and there is a Friday night pub crawl. Plus, enjoy all the fall colors along the way to the Western Slope.
Elk Fest, Estes Park
The beautifully haunting bugle of a bull elk is unmistakable, and spectators head to Estes Park every autumn to experience the phenomenon. The elk gather there, at the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, to show off for their ladies during the start of the rutting (breeding) season. At Elk Fest, visitors can learn about these beasts’ behavior, observe them in their natural habitat, participate in a bugling contest and see performances by American Indians.
La Veta Oktoberfest, La Veta
Beer, music and fall foliage all converge during La Veta’s Oktoberfest. This downtown street fair also features a car show, dancing and more than 60 arts and crafts vendors.
Old West Fest, Ridgway
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of True Grit, the movie that earned John Wayne his only Academy Award and was filmed in Ridgway and Ouray County in 1968. The first annual Ridgway Old West Fest will celebrate Ridgway’s brief transformation into Fort Smith, Arkansas half a century ago. Festivities will highlight Ridgway’s film, ranching and railroad heritage and celebrate Western arts and culture.
Dairy Block Fall Flannel Festival, Denver
Dairy Block and Denver Milk Market will again celebrate the changing of the seasons with the second annual Fall Flannel Festival on Sunday, Oct. 20. This free community event, held in the Alley at Dairy Block, will feature a festive line-up of events for all ages, including face painting and balloon art, live music, games, an urban pumpkin patch, a live pumpkin carving artist and more.
Emma Crawford Coffin Races, Manitou Springs
The Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade is an annual event held just days before Halloween. The rules are very simple: form a team with one “Emma” in a coffin and four “runners” dressed in the most creative costumes and have them race toward the finish line. It’s an uncanny and crazy spectacle for everybody’s amusement.