Summer ends today, and as 2017 reaches its final quarter, we make our way into the fall season. Lucky for us we live in one of the most scenic states in the country and certainly an outdoor-activity hotspot. It’s still too early to hibernate so let’s get out there with the fam and take in everything Colorado has to offer during the fall.
1. Fall Foliage Fun
Mid-September through early October is when the Pike’s Peak Region’s aspen trees start shifting their colors towards their iconic orange and gold. This is the perfect time to hike, ride your bike, rock-climb, fish or any other outdoor activity you can think of. Temperatures cool off throughout the high country and the Rocky Mountains become surrounded by breath-taking “bowls of gold”.
These are a few outdoor spots where you can appreciate the spectacle nature puts on and get some much-needed post-summer exercise:
Dome Rock State Wildlife Area
A 50-min drive from Downtown Colorado will get you to Dome Rock, a wildlife area that hosts an enormous granite Dome Rock and a 10.5 mile loop trail. Since the area has been deemed as prime calving ground for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, dogs are not allowed.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
A Colorado Springs classic state park that includes 21 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as a year-round campground and archery range. Fear not, mutt-lovers, Cheyenne Mountain State Park has recently (September 1st) allowed dogs on certain trails (Acorn Alley, Raccoon Ridge, Bobcat Way, and the portion of Soaring Kestral that connects Bobcat with the campgrounds).
For fall colors, Colorado Parks & Wildlife recommends the 1.8-mile Soaring Kestral Trail.
The 1.6-mile trail follows the North Cheyenne Creek and actually contains seven bridges that
cross it along the way. This is a great hike for families with small kids due to its length and difficulty. The trail ends in Jones Park where you can choose from several other trails if you just haven’t had enough autumn-hiking.
If you’d rather be a passive spectator, you can also drive around and marvel at the autumn colors. We recommend the road to Cripple Creek or the Phantom Canyon Road.
Source: Colorado Parks & Wildlife
2. The Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Parade (The Manitou Coffin Races):
Emma Crawford was a woman sick with tuberculosis who came to Manitou to seek out the healing qualities of the Manitou Springs’ mineral water as a cure. She passed away in 1890. She was originally buried on top of Red Mountain but later had her remains moved to the south slope. After several weeks of inclement weather, her remains were washed down the mountain into the canyon below. Two children later located several pieces of her coffin including the name plate and casket handles.
Of course, the only natural progression after something like this happens would be for the local community to build ‘coffins’ out of everything from shopping carts to old dollies, and race these contraptions down Manitou Ave. The rules for the races are simple.
Teams consist of one ‘Emma’ (a man or woman in the coffin) and 4 runners. Each race is a two-team heat, however, only the final times matter. The teams with the fastest times go home with trophies.
The official Manitou website also states that there will be awards for “Best Entourage, Best Coffin, and NEW in 2017: Miss Emma will be crowned, so come dressed to impress” whatever all that means…
While the Manitou coffin races may be grounded in a morbid origin, the event is a truly unique all day affair filled with great food, shopping, and one of a kind entertainment.
The race takes place Saturday October 28th from 12:00pm to 3:00pm.
3. Venetucci Farm Pumpkin Picking
50 cents a pound and 190 acres of options… what more could a pumpkin-picker wish for? Bring your kids to the Venetucci Farm for a fun day out and start getting ready for Halloween!
For years, Nick and Bambi Venetucci opened their fields to thousands of children to give away pumpkins. In 2006, after they passed away, Pikes Peak Community Foundation took over the farm to preserve their legacy.
All proceeds go to support Pumpkins for Kids, a pumpkin giveaway for school children.
4. Happy Apple Farm
Happy Apple Farm is one of Colorado’s most varied pick-your-own fruit farms. They usually grow apples, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries year-round, and there’s also pumpkins in the fall.
On the weekends, they serve apple wood smoked brisket or pulled pork along with turkey legs and hot dogs for the kids.
They offer free hayrides and there is no admission fee. Take your family for a fun-packed day and don’t forget to try their famous apple pie and apple cider donuts.
Source: Happy Apple Farm website
5. Diana’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze
This family owned and operated 8-acre pumpkin maze is located in Canon City and changes its theme, layout and games every year. Last year it was shaped as a pirate ship in reference to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The corn bin, hayrides, hay slide, grain bin and the duck races are just some of the fun activities included in your admission. It’s $10 per person (includes a pumpkin while they last) and kids 5 and under get in free. Make sure to take a flashlight and find your way in the maze at dark, it’s super fun and they turn on the fire pit at night so stick around and enjoy some s’mores or hot cider!