5 Laid-Back Ways To Indulge Your Love Of Fall Foliage


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Last week, Chris shared with us some great places to visit on a fall foliage road trip. While we love the idea of driving over hill and dale to find some fabulous fall color, we can’t help but be frustrated by the fact that it’s very hard to watch and drive at the same time. And, as much as we’d like to, we can’t always claim shotgun.

So, if leaf lusting is on your fall itinerary, here are five other fun ways to explore the fall’s most vibrant natural phenomenon – no concentration on the road required.

Gondola’s Aren’t Just for Venice and the Ski Slope.
Many of the west’s most famous ski areas offer their gondolas for use during the off-season, making mountainsides accessible to photo-taking tourists and hikers alike. Try a gondola ride in scenic Telluride while sailing through the trees – for free. The first and only free public transportation of its kind in the U.S., this gondola connect riders between Telluride and Mountain Village, giving passengers an ever-changing view of the crimson and golden leaves along the way. A one-way ride takes approximately 12 minutes, and you can even hop out and hike along the top of the mountain if you desire. The town of Telluride lies in a box canyon, surrounded on all three sides by 14,000-foot peaks, making it an ideal spot to take in Colorado’s natural beauty before the first snows fall.

Hot Air Balloon
A hot air balloon trip has long been on our bucket list (of course, we’ll have to take a Xanex first to get over our fear of heights) and why not combine the beauty of the balloon with a little leaf gazing action? Try this in Winter Park and Fraser Valley. At the highest altitude, passengers will see towering peaks from five to seven counties, including Rocky Mountain National Park. Grand Adventure Balloon Tours is offering 10 percent off all fall bookings, which include a three-hour ride, continental breakfast and champagne toast.

Fly-fishing.
We lied a little bit above in regards to laid-back activities; standing knee-deep in freezing cold rushing water probably requires some concentration. But imagine the opportunities for both fish and foliage. One preferred location is the Roaring Fork Valley, home to some of the finest rivers for trout fishing, especially from mid-September to mid-October. Rainbow and brown trout are plentiful that time of year, and are as pretty as the fall foliage.

Historic Train.
Travel through scenic San Juan Mountains aboard the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a historical steam powered railroad founded in 1880 to serve the booming mining industry. Between Durango and the historic mining town of Silverton, this locomotive allows passengers to experience color-drenched aspens that line the free-flowing Animas River. The town offers shopping, restaurants and galleries, while active types can enjoy rafting trips, mountain biking, or horseback riding. You can even enjoy a guided gold mine tour.

Horseback Riding.
Giddy up, partner. Settle into a saddle on a Wrangler-led horseback ride in Steamboat Springs – a truly authentic Western town in Colorado – to experience the fall frontier just like the cowboys. Amble through the Routt National Forest along timeless American West trails popping with vibrant golden, red and orange leaves.

Have any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.

[Flickr via USFWS Mountain Prairie]