When crossing over the Colorado state line, a very humble little rickety old brown sign welcomes you. “Welcome to colorful Colorado” it says. It’s the least flashy welcome sign I’ve ever seen and yet Colorado is one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever been. If you’re looking for a place to sweep you off your feet, to stop you dead in your tracks, the Colorado Rockies will do just that. The jagged peaks and sweeping valleys, the rivers and streams, the wildlife, the clean, cool mountain air-nothing else I’ve experienced really compares. With that, I’d love to share six of my favorite Colorado scenic drives that will take your breath away…
1. Independence Pass.
Highway 82. From Highway 24 to Aspen, Colorado.
2. Trail Ridge Road.
Highway 34 through Rocky Mountain National Park. From Grand Lake, Colorado to Estes Park, Colorado.
3. Glenwood Canyon.
I-70. From Dotsero, Colorado to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
4. Mt Evans.
From Idaho Springs, Colorado to the summit of Mt. Evans via Highway 103 to Highway 5.
5. Loveland Pass.
From I-70 to Dillon, Colorado via Highway 6.
6. McClure Pass.
From Carbondale, Colorado to Paonia, Colorado via Highway 133.
7. Dolores River Valley.
From Naturita, Colorado to Gateway, Colorado via Highway 141.
8. Cottonwood Pass. (Part of this drive is a well-graded dirt road)
Buena Vista, Colorado to Almont, Colorado via County Road 306 -> County Road 209 -> County Road 742.
9. Boreas Pass/Hoosier Pass Loop. (Boreas Pass Road is primarily a dirt road)
Breckenridge, Colorado. Boreas Pass Rd -> Highway 285 -> Highway 9 at Fairplay, Colorado -> Return to Breckenridge.
10. San Juan Skyway Loop including Red Mountain Pass, Molas Pass, Coal Bank Pass, Dallas Divide and Lizard Head Pass.
Travels through the towns of Ridgway, Telluride, Durango, Silverton and Ouray. Starting in Ridgway and traveling counterclockwise take Highway 62 -> Highway 145 -> Highway 160 -> Highway 550 -> return to Ridgway.
I could do each one of these drives over and over again and they would never get old. Next time you’re in the Rockies, bring your camera, pick a drive and plan on stopping a lot to soak up all the beauty Colorado has to offer.
Please note: Be sure to check cdot.org for the latest road conditions before your trip. Some of the drives listed above are only open during the summer months. Others reach high altitudes and are subject to adverse conditions. Even if it’s the middle of the summer, bring a hat and coat. Temps are considerably lower at the top of many of these passes, you’ll appreciate having the proper gear so that you can take the time to enjoy the scenery.