Ericka Van Dreyton was never one to take the bait, as it were. This guy, who looked a little like Ryan Reynolds, by the way, obviously thought that his card left on the table was her cue to call him. She’d been carrying the card around in her coat pocket for a week, and had decided she definitely would not call him … today. Halloween was soon on the menu and in Idaho Springs that meant shop windows strewn with cobwebs and cat-sized spiders hanging from ceilings. There was a festive spirit of goblins lurking around corners and ghosts dancing in the street. Idaho Springs was a town built into the mountainside, houses tucked into the nooks and crannies, with hidden mines at the end of every other street. Ricky looked across the way at the waterwheel that was still turning despite the cooler temperatures, the sun streaking its timbers with promise of a warm day. She made a stop at the Wild Grape in search of a Birthday gift for her sister, then wandered through Canyon Outfitters to see if they still had the tooled, silver studded handbag that she had decided she couldn’t live without. Purchases made, she stopped in for a hello to Asta at Java Mountain Roasters and one of her famous Pumpkin Spice Lattes. The roasting was done and the whole shop was scented with coffee magic as one of the girls ground beans for a customer. Ricky sat down at a table to wait for a break in the counter action and that’s when she spotted him, the Ryan Reynolds knock off. He was going to think she was following him. She walked over to his table and waited for him to look up. “I just wanted you to know,” Ricky explained, “that I just happened in here. I’m not following you.” He smiled – disarming – annoying. “I didn’t think you were following me,” Ryan said. “But it would be fine if you were.” “Good answer,” Ricky said, then went and sat down at another table.
It was the kind of day that reminds a person of why they live in the mountains, why the winter snow doesn’t seem that big, and the deer gobbling down your flowers every summer becomes unimportant. It was autumn in the over-achieving, just off the highway, town of Idaho Springs, Colorado, the place you stopped on your way to the resorts to grab a bite to eat, but for Ricky, short for Ericka, this was home, and fall was the season of seasons. Ricky stepped out onto Main Street and was immediately swept up in the buzz of folks setting up for the Friday Farmer’s Market, the kids carefully choosing their pumpkins for the upcoming carving contest. Asta, from Java Mountain Roasters was launching her Autumn Gold blend for fall and you could smell the beans coming to perfection from the street. Two doors down at the Main Street Restaurant, Josh’s “better than mom’s” cinnamon bread was coming out of the oven, ready to slice and slather with butter. Ricky breathed in deeply and made a decision. An Autumn Gold Americano with cream was exactly what this October morning called for.
One of the best ways to see the beauty of autumn in the Rocky Mountains is on horseback. There are many horseback tours available, but one company local to Idaho Springs offers both guided and unguided tours and no age limits (children under five must ride double). One of the destinations available is a ride into 1800’s era cemeteries. Although mining history is at times glamorous – especially when we hear how someone ‘struck it rich’ – these graveyards attest to the hope and true sacrifice of mining families who buried many children in the Colorado mountains.
There are day rides, full moon rides, and in the spirit of the season there is a Halloween Ride to the graveyards just around the corner. There are a limited number of riders for this ride, so if you’re interested, make your reservations right away.
“Learn to ride a horse and you can have one of the most thrilling experiences of your life.”
The month of September is the ideal time to view gorgeous Rocky Mountain fall color, but you have to time it right — the color is fleeting, lasting only about a week in most places. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict when exactly the leaves will turn in any given location. The best strategy: select your travel dates in advance, but not your destination. Then do your research and go where the color is. The Rocky Mountain Region of the National Forest Service is not reporting any fall color from any forest or grassland yet. However, the Forest Service website posts information on fall color information from 17 national forests and 7 national grasslands, and is updated weekly. If you’re planning a color tour, check there for current, reliable fall foliage information.
One favorite route for a local color tour is to take Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway south out of the town of Georgetown. You’ll not only find pockets of breathtaking aspen but high-altitude nirvana atop the 11,699-foot pass. The aspens are more prevalent on the southern side of the pass. Once you reach the town of Grant, turn right on US 285 and take the highway for 15 minutes to the top of Kenosha Pass, where the aspen thrive on the rim of the slopes encircling South Park.
Autumn in the Rocky Mountains is a special time – with warm days, cool nights, and breathtaking color. It’s the perfect time to schedule an outdoor photo for your family. There are many scenic spots throughout Clear Creek County that offer a spectacular backdrop for a family photo. As a local Evergreen company, Camara Photography is familiar with these fabulous, beautiful spots for outdoor photographs – and if you have a place that is special to your family, a photographer will meet you there. Contact them today to take advantage of the best fall color, and let them help you create a family memory full of Colorado flair and personality.