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How to leaf-peep responsibly in Colorado

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

DENVER — Colorado’s “leaf peeping” season kicks into high gear with the arrival of autumn.

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

“It’s one of the busiest times of year at our park, as we head into peak ‘Peeping Season,’” said Todd Farrow, Park Manager at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. “We ask that people plan ahead, be patient and understand that some parking areas will fill up quickly and that you may need to find another spot to explore.”

“We want everyone to have a great time experiencing the colors and the natural resources our whole state has to offer,” said Farrow. “No matter where you plan to peep, be respectful of those resources, the staff helping you have a great experience, and your fellow recreationists out searching for Colorado gold."

FALL COLORS GUIDE: When and where to see the leaves change in Colorado

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?

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.
Credit: Chris

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.

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 and historical items as you find them.
  • Carving or hacking plants and trees may kill or disfigure them.

RELATED: Even an off-year is a good year for fall colors in Colorado. Here's what you need to know.

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.

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.
  • Bring face coverings and hand sanitizer, and leave 6 feet of space between hikers if possible.

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

Click or tap here to share your leaf peeping photos with us.  

You can also text them to 303-871-1491, upload them via the 9NEWS app or email them to yourtake@9news.com.

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FALL COLORS GUIDE: When and where to see the leaves change in Colorado