Fall is here, with lots of things to do — and not do. Like drinking anything flavored with either pumpkin or spice, or bragging to friends at work about how you caught the perfect day up in the mountains to see the aspens turning. And you no longer have any obligation to pay attention to the Rockies until next season. And so on.
Because there's just so much to do during autumn in Colorado, that golden season. Here are ten can't-miss things to do in Colorado in the fall.
10. Drink as Much Beer as Possible
For most of us, this is a given. But between Denver's forty-plus-year-old Oktoberfest (September 23-25) and the Great American Beer Fest (October 6-8), there are so many reasons to just keep drinking that you’ll feel like you’re in college again. (At least back when kegs were more prevalent than community water bongs.) So grab a pretzel necklace, make sure your Uber app is updated, and plan to be in some state of inebriation from now through the first week of October. You might want to start your list of work excuses now: Hey, isn’t that fictitious sister of yours up in Saskatchewan about to have a baby?
9. Get Lost
There are two solid ways to do this: one is to try to walk home after the beer events listed above. The other is more sensible, and a heck of a lot more family-friendly: the traditional corn maze. Sure, Colorado is known for its mountains, and we lucky residents like to pretend that it’s all mountains here all the time. But the majority of our state is indistinguishable from the Midwest flatlands that stretch out to the east of us, and corn mazes are just one of the pleasurable byproducts of admitting that Colorado isn’t a state that exists solely at the top of fourteeners. So get out there! If you want something close, the Denver Botanical Gardens at Chatfield has a great one, or if you’re up for a minor road trip, head to Harvest Farm in Wellington or to Fritzler’s Corn Maze in LaSalle. And if you like your corn mazes with a dash of jump-scares, try the Anderson Farms in Erie…which would be spelled “Eerie” this time of year, if the town's boosters were at all interested in marketing.
8. Gorilla Run
What do gorillas have to do with autumn? Not a damn thing. But, hey: gorillas! They’re cool. And they have a run in the fall that’s not only cool, but important. No, it’s not a parade of gorillas, more’s the pity. How amazing would that be, despite the sort of Planet of the Apes dread that would probably hit all of us if we saw a retinue of actual gorillas in people suits marching down 16th Street? Yes, panic would ensue, but then there’d be a gorilla Santa waving at the primate audience gathered to see him at the end, and we’d realize it’ll all be okay. (Personally, and just in case, I’d like to welcome our gorilla overlords.) The actual Gorilla Run is a 5K in full gorilla regalia (or just for the cause, which is the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund) held on October 22. Gorilla and banana suits are still available. No, that’s not a joke. It’s awesome.
7. Pick Some Apples
There are a lot of ways to enjoy apples: sauced, sliced, baked, candied, juiced, dehydrated, pied, cobblered, slathered in peanut butter, fried over pork chops, made into jam, chutneyed, muffined, spiced and caked, cidered, frittered, birdied, carameled, cooked into oatmeal, brewed into lager, or just held tight in your fist and crunched into with one single toothy bite. There are good apple-picking spots all over Colorado, so get out there and satisfy your apple-icious autumn appetite.
6. Stroll Around a Cemetery
Around Halloween, cemetery tours become a little less gruesome for most people who’d otherwise never be caught dead…okay, poor choice of words. But, seriously, even if you’re someone who thinks that walking around tombstones isn’t your idea of a good time, Denver’s historic Riverside Cemetery is worth the trip. And in case you need some extra incentive? On October 30 you can combine alcohol and history at Riverside Moonlight Hops n’ Mysteries. And if you don’t feel like leaving downtown and want the dead to come to you instead? Don’t forget the Zombie Crawl on October 22, when you can be harassed by overenthusiastic but ultimately harmless undead.
5. Enjoy the Perfect Chili
Chili is the perfect autumnal food. It’s hot, which is good because it’s getting cooler outside. It’s spicy, which is good because a lot of other fall foods tend toward the bland. (Thanksgiving might be delicious, but the zippiest thing on the table could be the cranberry sauce.) And it’s meaty, which is good because it’s now sweater weather, and we can afford to pack on some sausage weight. On October 15, Golden hosts the Knock Your Boots Off Chili Cook-Off and Beer Tasting, which seems like a good place to get some ideas. And maybe some indigestion, but you have to live, damn it.
4. Annoy Some Elk
Estes Park hosts its annual Elk Fest on October 1-2 this year, which means that it’s time for amateur bugling, elk arts and crafts, elk education and more, all in honor of rutting season. Which means elk sex. Yes, people regularly gather on purpose to witness elk-mating season. Does no one else see anything wrong with this? This seems like the worst time for visitors, if you’re an elk. “Dudes,” the elk is saying, “did you NOT see the sock I tied to the animal-crossing sign? Hey, take a picture, it’ll last longer. Oh, you are taking pictures. Fantastic. Pervs.”
3. Fest It Up
We’ve already mentioned Oktoberfest, but that doesn’t mean that Colorado is done, fest-wise. Far from it. We also have Fright Fest at Elitch Gardens and Pumpkin Fest at the Botanic Gardens. If we include festivals, too (heck, “fest” is right there in the name), there’s the Denver Film Festival and the International Denver Wine Festival. There are enough “fests” to keep you busy until late in the season, and then you can start panicking about not being ready for the holidays.
2. Huddle With the Broncos
Fall means football, especially in Denver. It’s a built-in event every Sunday, except for November 20, which is the Broncos' bye week, and the weekend when sports fans all over the city meander about, halfheartedly rooting for their secondary teams, maybe getting around to that list of other things they need to do, like clean out their gutters or take down the Halloween decorations or pay attention to their children. On every other Sunday, you know where you need to be: in front of a screen or at Mile High Stadium. The Broncos jersey is optional, but strongly recommended.
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1. Get High
Hey, it’s Colorado. And at least in fall you can consume cannabis while enjoying gorgeous scenery (technically illegal, we know), before you get locked to your couch during the winter.