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Follow these tips for a safe leaf-peeping experience

These tips on planning and hunting for Colorado's fall colors will lead to a more pleasant experience.
Credit: Tom
Credit: Tom

GEORGETOWN, Colorado — Colorado’s “leaf peeping” season has kicked into high gear.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is asking that when you head out on the search for the state’s autumn gold, keep trail etiquette and caring for Colorado top of mind.

"It’s one of the busiest times of the year at our park, as we head into peak leaf-peeping season," said Bronwyn Phillips at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. "We ask that people plan ahead, watch out for people and wildlife crossing slowly on roads and park in designated parking areas to avoid damaging vegetation."

RELATED: When and where to see the leaves change in Colorado

"We want everyone to have a great time experiencing the vibrant colors and the natural wonders our beautiful state has to offer," said Phillips. "No matter where you plan to peep, please be respectful of our natural resources, park staff, volunteers and your fellow recreationists out searching for Colorado gold." 

CPW said Coloradoans should follow these Care for Colorado and Leave No Trace principles before they venture to the mountains:

Know before you go

CPW asks leaf hunters to plan their your trip ahead of time to avoid any potential disappointment.

  • Are the colors at their prime? 
  • Where is the best spot for your abilities and available timeframes for viewing?
  • What is the best route to take?
  • Where will you park?
  • What will you do if the parking lot is full?
  • Use the CPW Park Finder to explore Colorado’s 42 state parks.
  • Have a backup plan if your trailhead is closed or crowded.

Stick to trails

It can be tempting to find a new spot to photograph, but it’s important for Colorado's plants, trails and visitors that you stay the trail.

  • Help natural areas stay natural by sticking to designated trails. 
  • Respect trails closed for maintenance, vegetation projects or wildlife reasons. 
  • Don’t take shortcuts.

RELATED: 9 of the best drives to see fall colors in Colorado

Trash your trash

You might get hungry and thirsty while hunting for leaves, but don’t bring anything with you that you can’t pack out.

  • Pack out wrappers, bottles and trash.
  • Clean up and pack out dog waste.
  • Take crumbs, peels and cores to the nearest waste/recycling bin.
  • Bring an extra bag or two to help leave the area better than you found it.
Credit: Stark Liu

Leave it as you find it

  • Parking in undesignated parking destroys vegetation and encourages those coming up behind you to continue the trend.
  • Leave plants, rocks, acorns and historical items as you find them.
  • Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.

RELATED: 9 hikes where you can see fall colors in Colorado

Keep wildlife wild

You may see wildlife in their homes. Enjoy the moment by keeping your distance, using your zoom and letting Colorado's wildlife be wild.

  • Never feed wild animals.
  • Harassing wild animals may also increase the chance of a poor interaction including charges or attacks, feeding wildlife may expose animals to predators and may lead to euthanasia.
  • Be bear aware on trails to avoid encounters with bears.
  • Be aware of moose and keep away.
  • Keep dogs leashed.  

Share our trails and parks

Be patient with other visitors and the staff working during the busy season.

  • Try a new or lesser-known paths and sites found on the COTREX app.
  • Be considerate when passing others on the trails and yield to uphill hikers and bikers.

For additional tips on planning for fall’s color changes in Colorado, visit cpw.state.co.us.