Right now, I absolutely love my daily commute to and from work. I drive about 42 miles each way on a road called the Peak to Peak Highway, or officially Highway 72 to Highway 7, from Nederland to Estes Park, Colorado. It usually takes me about one hour each way to drive, and I’ll admit there are times during the summer, that the drive can seem unbearably long and tiring. But right now, I feel like the luckiest person in the world, to be able to drive along this scenic byway, each day experiencing new visions of gold, orange, and sometimes even red, as the Aspens along the byway turn colors. I had despaired last week that an early freeze would bring an end to our fall foliage, but instead, the cold temperatures of last week seem to have accelerated the color change. Every twist and turn of the road brings a glimpse of brilliant yellows and golds popping out from the hillside or peeking out from the roadside. And each day, as ond grove starts to brown, another grove down the road is just reaching its glory in colors so vibrant it’s hard to comprehend them.
There is one particular grove just north of Nederland that is one of the largest roadside groves of Aspen I have seen in Colorado. It is just now starting to reach its peak, and as I watch the cars coming the other way, no one can pass by this scenic vista without braking to take in the view. We often think of Autumn creating “elk jams” in the Rocky Moutains as visitors stop in the road to watch the elk bugle and strut during the elk mating season, but this particular grove creates its own “leaf jam” of visitors who are struck by its beauty. Even the local kids from Nederland get in on the action, by setting up a lemonade stand along the shoulder to provide refreshment to drivers who stop to take pictures. It’s the only time of year, where I can actually say we have “traffic” in Nederland, created by the sheer numbers of people driving the Peak to Peak in its entirety from Idaho Springs through Nederland on their way to Estes Park.
All of this incredible splendor of fall, brings to mind a quote I saw by Lauren Destefano, which captures my own love of Autumn and the beauty of our Aspens:
“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”