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Cottonwood Lake & Pass Fall Drive

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One of the closest place to enjoy the fall foliage is directly west of Buena Vista. At the traffic light, travel on West Main Street, which becomes Chaffee County Road 306. Head into the mountains. At approximately 6.5 miles, you have a choice between two canyons known to have very vibrant colors.

You can turn left on Chaffee County Road 344, which is a decent-graded dirt road that leads to Cottonwood Lake and the far reaches of South Cottonwood Canyon. Plenty of fall colors surround the road as one approaches Cottonwood Lake, which sometimes has colors reflecting off the lake. Also, an area just beyond lake and adjacent to the Cottonwood Lake Campground has a large hillside full of aspens.

The other option is to continue on Chaffee County Road 306, where more aspens fill the canyon as the road ascends toward Cottonwood Pass on the Continental Divide. The road remains paved with many pull outs for stops and walks among the fall colors. Also, the nearby trails such as the Denny Creek Trail, Ptarmigan Lake Trail or Colorado Trail are usually sure winners for those seeking fall color.

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