Colorado fall colors, leaf peeping and aspens might be damaged by rain

With aspen trees just starting to turn in northern Colorado, this week’s major rain event in the mountains could threaten the quality of leaf-peeping this fall.

Early autumn storms can impact fall colors, especially if they are associated with high winds that can blow the leaves off trees. Forecasters predicted 1-2 inches of rain with flash flood potential Tuesday through Thursday. Then comes wind as the low-pressure trough, which has tropical origins, moves out.

“As the storm exits on Friday, the typically windier areas of the northern mountains will see gusty winds of up to about 50 mph,” reported OpenSnow founding meteorologist Joel Gratz.

Aspen trees change first in northern locations and at higher elevations. Observers in Steamboat Springs, Walden and Poudre Canyon say colors have just started to change in those areas. The change is on at the Wycolo Lodge, however, located 25 miles north of Walden just over the Wyoming border.

“There are some stands that are really brilliant yellow right now,” said Kevin McNeill, who works at the lodge. “Others may be two, three, four days away yet. I drive four miles down the highway from my place (to work), and there was a lot of color out there this morning. It was all green a couple of days ago. Then, all of a sudden, whamo, it’s starting to turn.”

The Wycolo Lodge is located at 9,000 feet. At Woods Landing, a Wyoming crossroads located 15 miles to the northeast but at an elevation 1,500 feet lower than the Wycolo Lodge, the change is just starting.

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