It may seem counterintuitive, but this might just be the perfect time to visit Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. (Read more about the park here.) Don’t believe us? Here, four reasons to go—now.

Reason 1. It has taken this Colorado transplant a few years to accept, but the Centennial State’s fall colors rival the East Coast version. The aspens aren’t as colorful as their eastern cousins, but they make it up for it in brilliance. While the scrubby landscape around the park isn’t as photogenic as the mountain passes, you’ll pass through those kaleidoscope areas (pictured, right) on the way to and from, which makes the seven-hour car drive just about as delightful as possible.

Reason 2. School’s in session, meaning that family vacations are on the wane. The result? Shorter lines and less-crowded tours. In truth, this might just be the perfect time to pull the kids out of school for a long-weekend—with an educational twist.

Reason 3. During the summer, the park roads are so busy that you feel like you are stuck in rush-hour traffic. Come October, the thoroughfares are much more peaceful. So much so, that you can wander at your own speed without fear that the caravan of cars behind you will honk, and honk, and honk.

Reason 4. We’re all about playing well with others and sharing our national, jaw-dropping beautiful areas. Then again, we won’t complain if every photograph we take doesn’t include a ball-cap wearing tourist that we’ll never seen again. If you prefer nature shots to people poses, this is the time to practice your John Fielder skills.

Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.