Saturday, October 1, 2016

5 Fall Foliage Favorites in the Western U.S.


Trail in the Sangre de Cristos
It’s fall foliage time. From the shimmering golden aspens of Colorado and northern New Mexico to the stunning displays of maples and oaks in Oregon, you’ll find that now is the time for fall foliage touring in the western United States and Canada.

Santa Fe, NM
When you visit Santa Fe it is easy to determine if the aspens have turned. Just look up into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. What is amazing is that the drive up the mountain to the Ski Basin is only 15 miles from downtown Santa Fe. And along the way, you can explore the beauty of those golden hills.

While 15 miles seems like a mighty quick trip, it isn’t. The road is winding and full of pullouts where you can stop and look at the scenery and, if you’d like, take a hike too. I would allow at least two hours for your trip up and down the mountain to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. More on the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Byway in fall.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (New Mexico and Colorado)
Anyone in search of the rich and vibrant colors of autumn should hop aboard the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad for the best viewing of the fall foliage in the Rocky Mountains. The colors are bursting and peak foliage season is starting now. More on the Cumbres and Toltec fall excursions.

Northern New Mexico’s Cottonwoods
After the aspens have dropped their leaves, you can still enjoy the brilliance of the cottonwoods as you drive the High Road to Taos. Along the High Road to Taos, you’ll encounter majestic cottonwood trees decked out in their golden halos of light. Fall is the time when the riverbeds are easy to spot. Just follow the gold. More on the High Road to Taos.

Oregon Waterfalls and Fall Color
In northern Oregon you can combine trips to see the waterfalls with fall leaf peeping. Whether it is the majestic Columbia River Gorge or Silver Falls State Park where you can hike to 10 waterfalls, the combination of gushing waterfalls and brilliant fall color will amaze you.

Silver Falls State Park, just an hour and a half south of Portland, and XX from Salem, is a beautiful place to visit in any season, but especially right now to see the contrast of the bright yellow leaves against the dark evergreens. More on Silver Falls State Park.

Durango and Silverton Railway Fall Excursions
The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway is located in Durango, Colorado in the beautiful Four Corners region. The railroad excursion winds through spectacular and breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest for an unforgettable year-round adventure. Experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West took over a century ago. Relive history with the sights and sounds of yesteryear for a truly spectacular railroad journey.
Look to the left and you'll see the yellow train cars almost
hidden in the beauty of a fall day in Colorado.
We took our trip in the fall when the aspens were brilliant yellow and the rivers were running fast. We selected a first class observation car with windows on the roof. It was an amazing trip, made even more special by the fall scenery.  More on the Durango and Silverton.