Year after year, Colorado finds itself on national “Top 5 leaf peeping” lists; and for good reason. The Centennial state puts on a helluva show. Whether you’re paddling through river corridors, driving over mountain passes, or hiking and biking along the countless miles of trails across the state, the odds of seeing some colors popping are in your favor. And what better way to experience it all than with a couple of weekend getaway road trips? 

As the season hit peak colors, we decided to load up the family and take the latest 2020 Taxa Mantis for a spin, camping and touring scenic byways, highways and river corridors across the state. We chased fish (and our kids and dogs), hiked, and roadside leaf-peeped our way from southern Colorado to Denver and back. 

You don’t have to go far to find beautiful fall foliage. Silver Thread Scenic Byway and Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway (pictured here) are jam-packed with gorgeous views. While windshield leaf peeping is top notch, information pull-offs, historic sites, and viewpoints are scattered all along the routes and are definitely worth checking out.

The Taxa Mantis is more than just a “camper”. Touted as a “mobile human habitat”, this rig comfortably slept the entire family (4 people, 2 dogs), kept us warm on several below-freezing high country nights, and towed nicely.

While places like Kenosha Pass were lined with leaf peepers, we were lucky enough to have the trails near Wolf Creek Pass to ourselves.

The Taxa Mantis has must-have features and some other much-appreciated add-ons. The awning was a nice addition during some outside lounging in the low evening sun.

There is a lot to see out there. We camped on National Forest grounds during our weekend outings and spotted deer, elk, and a lot of species of raptors and songbirds.

Looking up is one thing, but watching the trail is another. While hiking with the kids, collecting leaves and pressing them gave us a great opportunity to see how unique each leaf really was.

It’s was surprisingly easy to find available campsites on Forest Service lands this time of year. Palisade Campground, near Creede, CO, was draped in color and nestled along the Rio Grande (which was chock-full of hungry trout). (Photo by Sam Scavo)

Clear Creek Reservoir Campground was a definite highlight of the trip. We pulled in after a late dinner at Eddyline in Buena Vista (try the cider!) and waking up to blue skies and golden-speckled mountain tops was hard to beat.

Camp coffee and morning snacks take on a new level in the Mantis. While it was blowing wind outside, we were able to stay cozy and indulge is a slow morning. (Photo: Sam Scavo)

Colorado Forest roads dressed in gold. The Mantis handled highways and gravel roads like a champ. The views weren’t bad, either.

Toward the end of long road trips, our kids can get antsy. We take advantage of exploring local eats, like Sunrise in Minturn when we can. Pro tip: Go for the smothered burrito…you won’t be disappointed.

For our final night on the road, we hit Site 5 in Hot Sulfur Springs Campground. The best part about this campground: River sites are day use only, that means you have full access to fish all night, without interrupting other visitors.

Speaking of fishing, the Colorado River in Hot Sulfur Springs is a little sliver of magic. Hungry trout were feeding just sub-surface, but were also coaxed with streamers.

Welcome to Brown town. (Photo: Sam Scavo)

Celebratory God Rush after a productive evening on the Colorado River, compliments of Tincup.

Fish food.

Aspen aren’t the only vegetation to show their fall colors around these parts. Willows and other woody bushes dress their best this time of year, too.

Keeping up with the kiddos makes for a real adventure; but soaking up a quick solo walk in the aspens can be quite refreshing.

The fall colors and fish were the reason for our weekend outings and the Taxa Mantis was the rig that helped to make it happen. This “human habitat” kept us warm, the coffee hot and the sleep accommodations pretty cozy. Cold weather family adventures are never dull, but ditching the tent and going with a camper trailer definitely added to the fun!