National Scenic Byways and Other Recreational Drives


Colorado's breathtaking mountain views, spectacular forests, and majestic wildlife, make it a great state for scenic drives. Stop off in its quaint historic towns for a taste of the past. There are drives for all seasons and many of the routes are designated National Scenic Byways.

Alpine Loop Back Country Byway
A 65-mile circle jeep tour that can be made in one day from Ouray, Lake City or Silverton. Two days would even be better to really see and enjoy the area. The road is open most of the summer and early fall, June to October.

Arapaho Scenic Drives
The national scenic byways in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests are designated for their spectacular scenery, wildlife, or history. The Peak to Peak Highway is also part of Arapaho Scenic Drives.

Collegiate Peaks Scenic Drives
Cruising through the Collegiate Peaks on an Autumn afternoon with the sun sparkling off the yellow Aspen - that's close to Nirvana for anyone that likes to recreate behind the wheel. US 24 around Buena Vista is the jumping off point these Collegiate Peaks Drives that head due west beneath the shadows of fourteeners Mts. Harvard, Princeton, and other ivy namesakes.

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway
The Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway winds 82 miles from Yampa to Meeker. The route through the Routt and White River National Forests was once the home of the Utes. Today the land offers a rich human history, nature, and wildlife.

Rio Grande Rockies Tour
The Rio Grande Rockies Tour is designed for one of those days when a day in the car sounds pretty good. It's a long tour, but those willing to spend the time can revel in some beautiful scenery as well as see some interesting wildlife. This is an excellent tour for viewing elk and deer because of the amount of forage in the area. Large amounts of forage are due to logging that opened up the area for young saplings and grass.

Grand Mesa/Uncompaghre Scenic Drive
These Scenic Byways wander through forests, leading to trails and campgrounds. Scenic driving is the most popular form of recreation on the National Forest. There are six beautiful drives on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison Scenic Byways. Routes through the Forests provide access to other activities, such as fishing, wildlife watching and four-wheeling. The Forests have a number of trails that begin near Scenic Byways. Interpretive signs can be found throughout journeys on the Forests. Brochures and other educational materials explaining the wonders of nature and history of man are available at most Forest Service offices.

Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway
55 mile trip crossing the Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-top mountain.

Highway of Legends
Begins at Trinidad and follows State Highway 12 over Cucharas Pass, totalling 82 miles.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Crossing the splendid alpine tundra on Trail Ridge Road, and that's just the beginning.

San Juan Skyway
The San Juan Skyway winds for 232 miles through the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests and offers views of spectacular, rugged, and primitive country as well as cultural and historical sites.

San Juan National Forest Scenic Drives
A variety of San Juan National Forest Scenic Byways travel through the Pagosa Springs Area.

Silver Thread Highway
The 75-mile Silver Thread Highway winds through the San Juan Mountains on State Highway 149 between Lake City and South Fork. This paved route travels through quaint mining towns in the breathtaking San Juan Mountains on the Gunnison and Rio Grande National Forests.

Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road
Trail Ridge and Beaver Meadow Roads connect the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake as they cross through the Rocky Mountain National Park over a distance of 85 km (53 miles)

Independence Pass
Follows route 82 from Balltown to Aspen passing over 12,095' Independence Pass and through the Sawatch Range. The drive is characterized by great scenery and several good hiking spots. East of the pass, Forest Road 391 provides access to trails leading to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. Trailheads near the top of the pass (both east and west) lead north into the Hunter Fryingpan Wilderness. On the west side of the pass, Forest Road 106 provides again provides access to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness with scenic trails following New York Creek, Lincoln Creek and Grizzly Creek.

Driving Through the Old West
Looking for adventure? You'll find miles and miles of it on Colorado's byways offering spectacular and unforgettable scenery.

Unaweep/Tabegauche Scenic and Historic Byway
This byway skirts the edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Along the way you get access to the Dolores and Gunnison Rivers, Uncompahgre National Forest, jeep/mountain bike trails, historic towns?and oh, that scenery!

White River National Forest
This legendary forest, home to Aspen and Vail, has some of the best backcountry roads in the Rockies.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 13 Jul 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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