Saturday, September 28, 2019

Colorado Fall Foliage Trip 2019

It's officially Fall! That means that all across the country, leaves are changing colors. Well, not in Los Angeles, meaning that if we want to see trees changing colors we've got to go somewhere else. Let's make it a long weekend in Colorado! We'll be able to see family and also get to see some changing trees.
Theresa and I were out here last year for Fall Foliage too. This year instead of just us, we're taking the kids and my brother's family too! Thank you to Megan's mom for letting us borrow her van. 
I wanted to get on the road early, and everyone was out the door by 7:15am.

Once again, we're going to Mueller State Park. This year though we're a week earlier than last year, and Colorado has been warm, meaning the trees haven't quite changed over yet. Trees here are mostly green, with the occasional patch of yellow. We drove around on the streets of the state parks looking for color. At least we could listen to music while driving around. Songs about Colorado like John Denver's Rocky Mountain High, or Merle Haggard's Colorado with lyrics like

Have you ever been down to Colorado?
I spend a lot of time there in my mind
And if God doesn't live in Colorado
I'll bet that's where He spends most of His time

And you can't forget classics like the Muppets & John Denver Hey Old Pal
Finally there's some color and a rock in front to sit on.  

And it's chilly outside. Here in Mueller State Park it's at 9600 ft above sea level and a windy 42 degrees.

The cousins have been having fun being around each other.

Fair warning now, you're going to see a lot of family photos. I did lug my tripod and DLSR all the way from California for this.

All the girls.

All the boys.

You can see in this wide shot, it's really a sea of green out here. It would have been great to be here a week or two later to see this whole area awash with color, but can't do anything about that now.

Last year Theresa and I arrived before the visitor's center was open, but today we got to take a look inside. Yes Ian, that was a real bear.

This little boy loves gold. And that's a big chunk of Iron Pyrite aka Fool's Gold.

It's a pretty interesting visitor's center. Lots of representations of the animals in this area.

Ian found a skunk.

And the girls found all the plush animals.

Theresa talking with one of the rangers about where there might be more changing trees in the park. The ranger also suggested a nearby half-mile nature walk where there might be something to see.

He likes collecting paper.

An elk! Not real, but that would have been fun to see.

Starting down the path. Come on Patrick! You thought you were done with hiking when we celebrated Dad's 60th birthday with a 60 mile hike!

Sure enough, there were a few more patches of color.

It was a fun hike. Nice and warm in the sunshine. A little chilly in the shade.

Going through some switchbacks through the forest.

Aha, found another patch of trees. That'll be good for a big group picture.

The kids enjoyed the hike. Ian kept finding "the perfect place to build a log cabin" and wanted to collect sticks and start building one immediately.

I was wondering if we'd see some wildlife. There were plenty of birds and chipmunks along our hike but just as we were finishing up, a herd of 4 deer came into view.

One more family photo.

Even though the leaves haven't quite hit peak viewing, I was still happy to get out to the mountain and enjoy a bit of nature.

Comparing the same tree from 10/6/18 and 09/28/19.

Time to head back. Coming down from the elevation, we're above a few clouds.

And once we arrived in Woodland Park, the cloud enveloped us. Let's all eat together at The Donut Mill!

Sprinkles, check. Chocolate, check. The kids knew what they wanted.

And Avery got a pink one.

We ended up with a variety of flavors, from biscuits and gravy, lemon filled, maple, chocolate sprinkles, strawberry, and the one I was most interested in maple bacon.

I love combining sweet and savory.

And I'm still looking for my favorite. I couldn't really tasty maple on this one. I do like the big pieces of bacon in it.

And now on the drive back, I was really glad for the early start today. There's so much traffic backed up here now. Cars were back up for miles into Woodland Park, which was still about 14 miles away from Mueller State Park. I would see a stoplight and then 2 miles of cars at a standstill waiting for the light to change, where only a few cars would make it through until the light turned red again. Very thankful to avoid all that.

It was a great morning in the mountains. I love taking a break each Fall to see the changing leaves.


  1. Refreshing hikes and scenery in the mountains...too bad the colors weren't as bountiful as last year, but still beautiful to see. Like that group photo w/ the sun shining through the leaves like a bright star...always fun to capture "girls only" and "boys only" photos...and of course, the family photo. Pretty amazing you captured the same tree at the same angle in both 2018 & 2019...very nice comparison photos. I had a good chuckle when the caption went from "Ian found a skunk" to the very next caption, "the girls found the plush animals" :-)...quite a contrast! Wonder if Alli's "pink" color preference rubbed off on Avery since she picked a pink doughnut! As an aside, I was intrigued at the "60 mile hike at 60th birthday" comment and couldn't help going through that link...amazing way to celebrate Dad's 60th...also, I REALLY liked how your Dad took each son to the mountain peak after he turned 13 to convey "how you'll face some tough challenges in life, but if you push through, you can conquer them" (sage advice and expressed very well via the hike). Great day connecting with the outdoors! EOM

    1. Thanks! It was fun to get up there and hang out with family and take fun group photos.
      That tree capture was Theresa's doing both times. It's fairly prominent on the drive out and it was very impressive the first year. It was a clear indicator that the timing wasn't quite right as we were leaving.
      I agree that the hike was a great thing to do at 13. I'm planning to do something similar with both kids as they grow up too.