It's never too early to plan a quick getaway, and now is the time to start thinking about those September and October trips into the mountains for Colorado's aspens that will be changing colors.

Here's a look at some ideal locations for fall colors within a few hours’ drive of the Front Range.

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The aspens begin to turn yellow along Colorado 12, part of Highway of Legends, near the top of Cuchara Pass in this 2015 photo.

Highway of Legends Scenic Byway

• Few will forget an autumn tour of the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway in southern Colorado, though getting there will be a time investment. Head south on Interstate 25 to Walsenburg, then head west on U.S. 160 and branch off on Colorado 12 at La Veta. The 82-mile route will return you to I-25.

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One more golden reason to love Colorado: Boreas Pass.

Boreas Pass

• Enjoy the lovely route between Breckenridge and South Park via Boreas Pass at 11,492 feet. Take Forest Service Road 33 from U.S. 285 at Como in Park County or Boreas Pass Road in Breckenridge.

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A light dusting of snow covers the mountain peaks on Kebler Pass near Crested Butte as the aspens begin to turn golden Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

Kebler Pass

• For another classic, head to Kebler Pass near Crested Butte. Head west out of Crested Butte over County Road 12, an improved dirt road, and be surrounded by aspens and breathtaking vistas. At Colorado 133, you can head north toward McClure Pass for more or return the way you came. For a shorter day, stick to Colorado 135 between Crested Butte and Gunnison.

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The shadows of aspen leaves are cast on the trunk of a tree near Independence Pass.

Independence Pass

• One of Colorado’s higher paved roads, Independence Pass provides sweeping views of aspens. Colorado 82 is normally open until Nov. 1 but could be closed early because of weather.

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A bull elk watches over his harem in a meadow along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Trail Ridge Road

• Head to Estes Park and pick up Trail Ridge Road for an unforgettable trip through Rocky Mountain National Park.

Editor's note: This article originally published in September 2021.

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