~ by Trevor Phipps ~
Fall officially began this week.
But you would not know it by the way the local aspen leaves are still showing off their summer green color. Fall tours in Cripple Creek that show people the sights of the area kick into high gear this weekend, but the colors are still hidden, almost like they haven’t been told it’s autumn yet.
But according to the experts, the leaves are going to start to change soon. Most aspen leaf viewing enthusiast websites say that the leaves across Colorado are going to start changing to their golden splendor for the next two weeks.
One trip to take in the fall time that is loved by locals and tourists alike is the ride up to Cripple Creek on Hwy. 67. On the old railroad route through the mountains between Divide and Cripple Creek is the home to thousands of aspens that fill the valleys and mountainsides. Every year hundreds of people can stop on the side of the highway to take pictures of the gorgeous rainbow colors the aspen leaves showcase.
Once the “leaf peepers” get to Cripple Creek, the mountains around the town also give good views of the spectacular fall colors. In order to help sightseers get a good experience, the Two Mile High Club in Cripple Creek offers free Fall tours that take people around the area to show them different angles of the beautiful aspen tree leaves. The tours bring visitors to look out points where gorgeous views of the mountains in the area can be seen and all of the donations they receive go towards feeding the town’s famous herd of donkeys.
In addition to the changing leaves and everything the town already has to offer, this weekend the city of Cripple Creek is also putting on The Big Aspen Happnin’ Fall Festival. The celebration serves as a way to welcome the leaf viewers into the town for live entertainment, arts and crafts, and food vendors.
The event starts this Saturday and the doors open at 9 a.m. Food vendors will be set up on the 200 block of Bennett Ave. and arts and crafts vendors will be located on the 300 block. At 11 a.m., the beer garden opens and the live music starts on a stage set up on Bennett Ave. facing the casinos on the 200 block.
On Saturday the Cari Dell Trio plays from 11 to 1, Suga Bear and the Show Time Band then plays from 2 to 4, followed by Element One from 5 to 7. On Sunday, the band Martini Shot hits the stage from 12 to 3.
According to Cripple Creek’s Interim Marketing Director Jeff Mosher, a special event is taking place this year at noon on Saturday that will be put on by a non-profit group called Warriors’ Chariot. “It is a new nonprofit that teams up with the Wounded Warriors project and they are guys with super cars, so Lamborghinis, Ferraris, that type of thing and they give wounded vets and purple heart recipients rides around the area,” Mosher said. “At noon they are going to show up at the event and actually drive into the event. They will have some smoke cannons that go off and we got anywhere from 25 to 30 super cars coming in.”
In addition to the entertainment and vendors, the festival will also have bouncy houses for the kids as well as a Pumpkin Patch Picture Place, homemade ice cream, and wood carvings. The fall tours put on by the Two Mile High Club will also be going on during the event.
According to the city’s Heritage Tourism Director Michelle Rozell, the trip up to Cripple Creek during the fall to view the changing colors of the aspen leave proves to be time well spent. “When the colors do change you can’t beat the golds. I am even seeing some of the reds coming,” Rozell explained. “I think we are going to have a really spectacular year. Plus, everybody is pretty much open every day until October before they change to just being open on weekends. It is nice to go up there and really start looking at the fall colors and getting the fall feel and getting excited for all of the good stuff that comes in the fall.”