While a country drive is traditional, how much can you really see when you're concentrating on the road? There are a multitude of ways to get out there and savor the colors, sights and scents of autumn — getting you closer to the scenery, and saving gas too.
Visit a festival. September brings a broad variety, from the Vintage Harvest Festival in Canon City on Sept. 24–25 (fine wine, Mexican food and tie-dyed t-shirts) to Paonia's Mountain Harvest Festival on Sept. 23–25 (art shows and concerts) and the well-known Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival from Sept. 8–11.
If you're still undecided where to go, Colorado State Parks provides a report on current leaf conditions around the state at www.parks.state.co.us/fall, along with a downloadable brochure describing six highly recommended trip routes for the best fall foliage — or pick up the brochure at your nearest state park.
Carrie Patrick is managing editor of EnCompass.
Where there's foie gras PBJs and oom-pah-pah
By Linda DuVal
Well-known and worth it
Aspen's luxurious Hotel Jerome has set the standard for resort hotels since 1889. Now it has a new owner, the Oklahoma Publishing Company, which also owns the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel. It's going to retain its old-world elegance, though, when it undergoes a major facelift in the spring. It's a consistent favorite for Conde Nast Traveler awards. 800-331-7213.
There's no snow yet, but it is time to shop for good deals on ski gear. Where better than at the annual Ski Rex sale, Sept. 3-5 at all four Colorado Ski & Golf stores (three in Denver, one in Colorado Springs)? Besides deep discounts on last year's equipment, check out gear designed especially for women and kids. 303-337-1734.
Lesser known gems
Chair 8 in Telluride is quickly gaining a national reputation for excellent cuisine. It was recently featured on the Today Show, perhaps because of its innovative menu—including items such as a "decadent grown-up PB&J, featuring foie gras, pecan butter and fig jam." All in a retro '50s diner setting. 970-728-8887.
If you love cowboys and happen to visit the Four Corners area, plan to spend a night at the historic Rochester Hotel in Durango . Built in 1892, the Victorian hotel's décor has been described as "cowboy funky," and will provide you with entertainment as well as a comfy place to stay. You can spend hours admiring all the Western furnishings and photos. 800-664-1920.
The Front Range's first night-time farmers' market made its debut this summer in Manitou Springs. Midweek Market happens 4-8 p.m. every Wednesday through Sept. 21 in Soda Springs Park, and it has much more than produce. There are cooking demonstrations, live bands and a film series to entertain you while you shop for locally made art, chiles and sweet corn. 719-685-9741.
Where better to sample German food than at Oktoberfest? Vail's version of the annual festival happens Sept. 9-11 and 16-18. Wash down that bratwurst with an authentic German wine or beer. And then dance off the calories to a lively polka band or try your hand at keg-bowling. Put a little oom-pah- pah in your life. 970-476-6797.
See & Do
Cook, climb and have a howling good time
Well-known and worth it
If the coming holidays always make you feel inadequate as a cook, now's the time to sign up for a cooking class. The Seasoned Chef Cooking School in Denver offers "Mile-High Baking" on Oct. 1 and 26, as well as classes on fall harvest recipes, cookies, one-pot meals and ethnic cuisines from Mexican to Thai. 303-377-3222.
El Dorado Canyon near Boulder is a good place for rock climbers of all abilities to practice their skills. Whether you're a novice or into technical climbing, this is a handy place to go. Climbing shops in town can help you with gear and advice on where to climb. Or call 303-442-2911 or 800-444-0447.
Lesser known gems
Colorado's snow-fed rivers dwindle by summer's end, but you can still kayak at the new (and free) Pueblo Water Park, where there's always a controlled source of water for sporting folks. The half-mile section of the Arkansas River has eight two-foot drops, perfect for honing your whitewater skills. 719-583-2021.
Leave it to Colorado Preservation Inc. to take us someplace interesting. This year's On the Road event happens in northwest Colorado, from Rangely and the abundant rock art of Canyon Pintado to the varied treasures of Dinosaur National Monument. Join the tour for $75, Sept. 9-11. Reservations required: 303-893-4260.
You can howl with the wolves at the Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center between Divide and Florissant. See and learn about wild canines, which include a dozen wolves and wolf hybrids, plus coyotes and foxes. To learn more, log on to www.wolfeducation.org or call 719-748-8683.
This isn't your typical mountain bike trip. It's Pedal the Prairie, a 215-mile relatively flat bike ride across northeastern Colorado, starting and ending in Fort Morgan, Sept. 9-11. Entry fees start at $150 and include route maps, information, rest stop refreshments and breakfasts; other meals and lodging not included. Some bikers camp along the way. Wildlife watching is free. 970-867-6702.
Linda DuVal is a freelance writer living in Colorado Springs.