NATIONAL PARKS ~ STATE PARKS ~ NATIONAL MONUMENTS ~ SCENIC BYWAYS


National Parks

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.

Mesa Verde National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings.

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State Parks

Crawford State Park

An ideal hub for scenic Colorado day trips. Enjoy fishing, watersports, hiking and nature programs. Many ADA-approved facilities, plenty of wildlife watching and 66 campsites. ADA Restroom Facilities, ADA-compliant, Campsites, Dump Station, Elec. 30 Amp, Elec.

Harvey Gap State Park

A beautiful 198-acre lake with swim-beach, picnic sites and fantastic fishing and boating. ADA-compliant, Grills, Maps & Brochures Available, Parking on site, Picnic Area, Restrooms, Swim Beach Hours of Operation: 6am to 10pm, daily. No camping or pets are allowed.

Highline Lake State Park

Oasis in the desert. Ideal basecamp for year-round outdoor activities. Water sports and fishing, grassy, shaded campground and picnic areas, world-class biking trails, hiking, wildlife viewing, important birding area, group picnic & camping area, winter sports, hunting.

James M. Robb – Colorado River State Park

The park has 5 sections. The Fruita section has 57 campsites, Island Acres section has 80 campsites, and the 3 other sections are great for day-use getaways. The park is part of an extensive regional trail system.

Mancos State Park

Just off the beautiful San Juan Skyway, this park is one of Southwest Colorado’s hot spots for fishing, boating, and camping. Features 32 campsites, 2 yurts and a 225-acre lake. Open year round there are activities for every season.

Navajo State Park

Located in beautiful southwest Colorado on the New Mexico state line, Navajo State Park is one of 41 State parks in Colorado. ADA Restroom Facilities, ADA-compliant, Amphitheater, Boat Dock, Bus Parking, Campsites, Dump Station, Elec. 30 Amp, Elec.

Paonia State Park

Spend the day at a mountain reservoir in view of the majestic Ragged Mountains. Great scenery, water skiing, wildflowers and 13 non-electric campsites. Campsites, Fire Pit, Pets on Leash Allowed Birding, Boating, Camping, Canoeing/Rafting/Kayaking, Fishing

Ridgway State Park

Just north of Ouray, this park has magnificent scenery, water sports and wildlife. Features 280 campsites, 3 yurts, boating, fishing and hiking. ADA Restroom Facilities, ADA-compliant, Boat Dock, Bus Parking, Campsites, Dump Station, Elec.

Rifle Falls State Park

Home of Colorado’s only 80-foot triple waterfall. Explore through small limestone caves. RV and tent camping, wonderful trails. The perfect wedding setting. ADA-compliant, Amphitheater, Grills, Handicapped Parking, Maps & Brochures Available, Parking on site, Pets on Leash Allowed, Restrooms Hours of Operation: 6am to 10pm daily. Camping is allowed overnight in designated sites.

Sweitzer Lake State Park

Day-use park with great picnic sites surrounding a beautiful 137-acre lake. Swimming, boating, jet skiing and wildlife viewing. Grills, Pets on Leash Allowed, Picnic Area, Restrooms, Swim Beach Birding, Boating, Canoeing/Rafting/Kayaking, Fishing, Jet Skiing Allowed, Swimming, Waterskiing Cash, Personal Checks, Travelers Checks

Sylvan Lake State Park

Inspiring vistas, aspen glades and a high-mountain lake provide a relaxing retreat. Stay in a cabin, a yurt or at one of 46 campsites. Summer and winter activities abound. The lake is stocked, and you can rent a kayak or canoe. Perfect for a long stay or a day.

Vega State Park

Enjoy year-round wildlife watching and a variety of activities on the 900-acre reservoir. You’ll be surrounded by montane meadows and high mountains. 5 cabins and 113 campsites available. ADA-compliant, Boat Dock, Campsites, Dump Station, Elec. 30 Amp, Elec.

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National Monuments

Programs: National Conservation Lands: Colorado: Canyons of the Ancients | Bureau of Land Management

Virtual Visitor Center Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health authorities, the Tres Rios Field Office is temporarily restricting in-person access to Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. Please call the office for customer services that may be available by phone, email or in-person at 970-882-5600.

Chimney Rock National Monument – Home

NEWS ALERT For information about the upcoming Virtual Lecture Series with Erica Ellingson click HERE. What is Chimney Rock? This undiscovered gem is an intimate, off-the-beaten-path archaeological site located at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado. You’ll walk in the footsteps

Colorado National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.

Hovenweep National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

Yucca House National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and beauty for future generations of scientists and visitors.

Programs: National Conservation Lands: Colorado: Canyons of the Ancients | Bureau of Land Management

Virtual Visitor Center Following guidance from the CDC and recommendations from state and local public health authorities, the Tres Rios Field Office is temporarily restricting in-person access to Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum. Please call the office for customer services that may be available by phone, email or in-person at 970-882-5600.

Chimney Rock National Monument – Home

NEWS ALERT For information about the upcoming Virtual Lecture Series with Erica Ellingson click HERE. What is Chimney Rock? This undiscovered gem is an intimate, off-the-beaten-path archaeological site located at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado. You’ll walk in the footsteps

Colorado National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.

Hovenweep National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

Yucca House National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and beauty for future generations of scientists and visitors.

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Scenic Byways

Colorado Scenic Byways

Eleven of Colorado’s 26 byways are designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as America’s Byways®, which gives Colorado more national designations than any other state. Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways has been around since 1989. Prior to visiting a byway, we recommend the following: To request a printed map, please fill out our online request form, or use our online map above.

Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway

Overview

The Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway is a wild piece of beautiful Colorado land, with some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains there is to be seen. Enjoy roughing it on these partial dirt roads to access pristine mountains, lakes, streams, and trails that are less discovered by travelers. View this incredible area that has been home to ancient Native Americans and more recently miners and pioneers who have left behind relics and ghost towns.

65 miles between the towns of Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton.

Key Attractions

  • Many rivers, streams, and lakes – abundant fishing of rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout
  • Abundant hiking – five peaks that are over 14,000 feet in elevation – trails right off the byway
  • Mountain biking on the Alpine Loop provides challenging, multi-day opportunities
  • Snowmobiling and skiing during the winter months
  • Rich history and remains of mines and ghost towns from the 1800’s – sites and structures remain from the Gold Rush era and mineral miners
  • Colorful alpine wildflowers in late summer and colorful tress during early fall
  • Mountains shaped by powerful geologic forces – volcanoes, glaciers, wind and rain

Location

  • Located in the southwest quadrant of the state of Colorado
  • Located about 255 miles southwest of Denver, CO (to Lake City) and about 40 miles south of Montrose, CO (to Ouray)
  • Travelers can start their journey in Ouray, Lake City, or Silverton and follow the mostly circular byway in either direction
  • The Alpine Loop joins up with the San Juan Skyway (between Ouray and Silverton) and the Silver Thread Byway (near Lake City)
  • This is a backcountry byway – 4-wheel drive required on dirt or gravel roads (about two-thirds of the byway is a dirt road that is suitable for a 2-wheel drive vehicle)
  • Open for driving from around late-May to late-October
  • Three campgrounds, a picnic area, and 10 restrooms along the byway – visitor information centers, motels/hotels/resorts, RV sites, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations are located along this byway

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway

Overview

The Collegiate Peaks were named after Ivy League professors in 1869, during some friendly competition. Running north to south are Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton Peaks. These peaks help comprise the Sawatch, the highest continuous mountain range in North America. The Collegiate Peaks Byway runs along these impressive peaks and boasts a rich history in the area around, including Native Americans, fur trappers, explorers, miners, ranchers, and railroads.

57 miles along Chaffee County

Key Attractions

  • 14,000+ foot peaks and cliffs rising above the byway (highest concentration in U.S.)
  • Historic structures – such as ghost towns and mines
  • Colorado State Gemstone, Aquamarine, found only in Chaffee County
  • Many (commercially developed) hot springs
  • High altitude ranching
  • Waterfalls, lakes, streams, and rivers – including the Arkansas River
  • Very pronounced wildlife, including bald eagles, falcons, osprey, hawks, pelicans, turkeys, bluebirds, hummingbirds, marmots, pikas, ptarmigans, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, bears, beavers, moose, deer, and elk – visit the Maxwell Park and Hockendorf State Wildlife Areas to see many of these animals wander through

Location

  • Located in Chaffee County, CO – in central Colorado
  • About 123 miles from Denver, CO to Buena Vista, CO
  • The byway runs through the towns of Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Salida
  • The byway includes US-24 north of Granite, where it connects to the southern portion of the Top of the Rockies Byway at US-24 and CO-82
  • The byway follows US-24 south through Buena Vista, and continues south on US-285 to US-50 and the town of Poncha Springs
  • The byway then turns east on US-50 to Salida and therein turns northward on CO-291 through Salida’s Historic Downtown
  • It then reconnects with US-285

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway

 Overview

This beautiful byway drive follows the beginnings of the great Colorado River, taking you past several lakes and reservoirs, pristine forests and ranchlands, and narrow canyons. There is year-round recreation to be enjoyed along the route and plenty of wildlife and fantastic mountain views to behold.

80 miles / 128 km, Grand Lake to Bond, CO

Key Attractions

Colorado River Headwaters Byway Map
  • Fishing, sailing, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, hot springs, and hiking all available along the route – seasonal activities
  • Hot Sulphur Springs Resort offers hot, soothing, mineral water to relax and ease visitors’ ailments – used anciently by Ute Indians, now a fine, modern resort offering lodging, indoor, and outdoor pools
  • Several beautiful lakes (such as Lake Granby, Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake, Williams Fork Reservoir) exist along the river, surrounded by pristine wilderness and fantastic Colorado mountain views
  • The Colorado river itself – visitors are able to see part of the evolution of the West’s greatest river – from small stream to deep current

Location

  • Byway begins in Grand Lake, CO – northern Colorado – and ends near Bond, CO
  • To drive the byway:
    • Begin the drive just to the west side of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce building
    • Head southwest along US-34 until you reach US-40
    • At this junction, continue along US-40 through Sulphur Springs to CO-9 (or 6th St in Kremling, CO)
    • Continue southwest along CO-9 until reaching CO-131, the end of the byway
    • 104 miles northwest of Denver, CO; directions from Denver:
    • From 4600 Washington St Denver, CO (N 39.780° W 104.979°), take I-70 west out of Denver
    • Stay to the right of I-70 and merge onto US-40 west
    • Keep on US-40 until you reach the intersection with US-34 
    • Follow US-34 until you reach Grand Lake, CO – the byway starts at the Grand Lake Visitor’s Center – N 40.255° W 105.825°
  • Gas, lodging, shopping, restrooms, and food are available in several locations along the way
  • Camping locations are available in Rocky Mountain National Park, Arapaho National Recreation Area, and Pioneer Park in Hot Sulphur Springs
  • The road between Kremmling and the State Bridge (near Bond) at the end of the byway is not accessible to buses or large RV’s

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway

Overview

Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway is a multi-state byway that is accessible from various points in both Colorado and Utah. This ancient dinosaur mega-highway offers some of the best museums, collections of fossils and bones, learning and activity centers, and open, active excavations that are still making new discoveries today. Various sites display tracks and bones still unearthed in the ground. Some of the largest, most perplexing creatures have been discovered along this byway, and it is certainly a place for all ages to learn, play, and fulfill a childhood dream of exploring dinosaur country. Come visit and enjoy some of the all-time best dinosaur excavation sites in the world!

480 miles / 772.5 km

Key Attractions

Location

  • 111 miles from Salt Lake City, UT; 250 miles from Denver, CO
  • Driving the byway (Colorado section)
    • Start at the Utah-Colorado border on US-40
    • Turn south onto CO-64 at Dinosaur and continue onto Rangley
    • From Rangley, drive south on SR 139 to Loma
    • From Loma, drive east to Fruita on US-6 and Grand Junction
    • To loop back to the UT section, drive west on I-70 to the UT/CO border, where the Colorado section of the byway ends
  • Driving the byway (Utah section)
    • UT/CO border via I-70
      • The Utah section starts at the UT/CO border on I-70; head west
      • Take exit 212, the eastern Cisco exit, turn left over the Interstate
      • 1 ½ miles west of Cisco, turn left at a three-way junction with UT-128 and head south toward the Colorado River, Castle Valley, and Moab
      • At the intersection with US-191, turn left (south) to reach Moab, UT
    • Moab, UT to Green River, UT
      • Turn right (north) onto US-191 and cross the Colorado River
      • Continue north to Crescent Junction and I-70
      • Take I-70 west past Green River, UT
    • Green River, UT to Price, UT
      • Two miles west of Green River, UT turn north at exit 156 onto US-6/191
      • Drive north towards Price, UT, approximately 60 miles northwest
    • Price, UT to Duchesne, UT
      • From Price, continue north and west on US-6/191 through the town of Helper
      • Four miles north of Helper is where US-6/191 splits; take the right hand turn onto US-191 that runs down over the Price River, the railroad tracks, and around the coal-fired power plant you can see
      • Continue on US-191 for 44 miles up Willow Creek Canyon, up and over Reservation Ridge with a pass at just over 9,000 feet above sea level, and down through Indian Canyon to the town of Duchesne, UT in the Uintah Basin
    • Duchesne, UT to Vernal, UT
      • A few blocks after crossing the Strawberry River, there is a stop sign dividing US-191 from US-40
      • Turn right and drive east on US-40 through Myton at the Duchesne River bridge and then through Roosevelt
      • US-40 continues on into Vernal ending on Main Street
    • Vernal, UT to UT/CO border
      • Take US-40 east for 12 miles to reach Jensen, UT
      • Continue east across the bridge over the Green River
      • Travel 18 miles to UT/CO border where the Utah section of the byway ends
  • Plenty of lodging, food, gas, and camping in various cities

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway

Overview

Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway, located in the White River Valley in northwestern Colorado, travels along a pristine wilderness area that is a bit off the beaten path. Visitors can enjoy the slower pace of life and some peace and quiet while embarking on some fun adventures. Whether you are looking to experience simply a scenic drive or a magnitude of outdoor recreation, the Flat Tops area has something to offer travelers seeking the natural element.

82 miles from Meeker, CO to Yampa, CO

Key Attractions

  • Hundreds of miles of hiking trails
  • Pristine wilderness and wildlife
  • Prime hunting and fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • 4-wheel-drive routes, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing
  • Flattops Wilderness area
  • Historic museums in both Meeker and Yampa

Location

  • Located in the center of the northwestern quadrant of Colorado
  • Located between the towns of Meeker and Yampa, CO
    • Begins near Meeker, CO at the junction of Hwy 13 and Country Road 8
    • Follows CR 8 for 82 miles into the town of Yampa, CO
  • Approximately only half of this byway is a paved road
  • Accessible by passenger vehicles during summer season – snow vehicles required during winter months
  • Extreme weather conditions exist at high elevation in the Rocky Mountains – plan accordingly
  • There are NO AMENITIES along this byway, such as gasoline, hotel, and food
  • This byway crosses open rangeland – watch out for livestock on the road, as well as wildlife

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway

Mirroring the paths of Zebulon Pike, Charles Goodnight, Juan Bautista de Anza, Arthur Carhart and Cuerno Verde, Frontier Pathways showcases rugged mountains, carpets of wildflowers, piñon-dotted foothills and clusters of golden aspen. Visitors can experience the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 22 peaks over 13,000 feet.

Frontier Pathways Byway Map

103 miles / 165.8 km, Pueblo to Westcliffe or Highways 96 & 165, Wetmore to Colorado City

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway

Connecting six historic Colorado cities, four stunning roads comprise the Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway. Whether you are just driving the route, stopping by the historic railway and stagecoach routes, museums, dinosaur, and fossil sites, or enjoying the outdoor recreation along the way – you are sure to see some of Colorado’s best mountain scenery along this relaxing byway.

131 miles / 210 km

Key Attractions

  • Museums located in Cripple Creek, Victor, Cañon City, and Florence offer historical information about the region
  • Florissant Valley – the remains of an ancient lake bed, lush greenery, and expansive views
  • Mountain biking – with fantastic scenery and safe roads with low speed limits
  • High Park Road – located near Pikes Peak, supplies grand views of the mountain ranges surrounding the elevated road
  • Florissant Heritage Museum in Florissant, CO (previously a schoolhouse from 1887-1960) – gives a history of the area starting with the Ute Indians – a member of the National Register of Historic Places
  • Rock climbing – particularly along Shelf Road, where climbs are short but challenging
  • Shelf Road Recreation Area – great for rock climbing, camping, hiking, picnicking, and biking
  • Scenic views of Pikes Peak – one of Colorado’s iconic landmarks, viewable from the byway
  • Historic stagecoach and railway courses, such as the Royal Gorge Route
  • Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge – the highest suspension bridge in the world and the steepest incline railway to the bottom of the gorge
  • Dinosaur Depot and the Garden Park Fossil Area – located just north of Cañon City, tours some of the most important North American fossil discoveries

Location

  • 103 miles from Denver, CO
  • Directions from Denver:
    • Start from the on-ramp to I-25 south out of Denver N 39.740° W 105.010°
    • Take US-24 west in Colorado Springs
    • Stay on US-24 until you reach Florissant, CO where the byway starts N 38.946° W 105.289°
  • Driving directions for the byway:
    • Phantom Canyon Section:
      • The first section of the byway starts in Florence, CO, at the junction of CO 67 and West Main Street
      • From here, head north on CO 67 and continue as it changes to Phantom Canyon Rd
      • At the junction of CO 67 and 4th St. head south on CO 67 to W. Victor Ave, then head west on CO 67 into Cripple Creek
      • In Cripple Creek, head west on E. Carr Ave. and continue as the road becomes Teller County Rd
      • Follow this into Florissant
    • Shelf Road Section:
      • At the junction of CO 67 and Main Street in Florence, drive west on Main Street to Ash St in Brookside
      • In Brookside, drive north on Ash St as it changes to S Reynolds Ave, then to Fremont Dr
      • After the road becomes Fremont Dr, drive west to Field Ave
      • Drive north on Field Ave to Red Canyon Rd and continue north as the road becomes Shelf Rd
      • Continue again as the road changes to Xenia St and continue to CO 67 south of Cripple Creek
    • High Park Section:
      • Start at the junction of Cedar Ave and Ash St in Brookside
      • Drive west on Cedar Ave to Chestnut St and head north
      • Once you reach Elm Ave, drive west to 9th St then drive north to Royal Gorge Blvd
      • Drive southeast on Royal Gorge Blvd to CO 9
      • At CO 9, drive north to High Park Rd
      • Continue north on High Park Rd to County Road 11
      • Drive north on County Rd 11 to County Rd 1 where the byway ends
  • There is lodging, gas, camping, food, and shopping along this byway

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway

Overview

Called the “alpine oasis in the sapphire sky,” Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway offers an incredible amount of beauty for any visitor to see. The drive will take you through vast expanses of alpine forest, acres of green meadows, hundreds of pristine lakes and streams, and awesome views of several different mountain ranges. This byway and the area it encompasses has much to offer, no matter what season you choose to visit in.

63 miles / 101.4 km, I-70 to Cedaredge with spur to Lands End

Key Attractions

Grand Mesa Byway Map
  • Grand Mesa National Forest – beautiful, dense forests (very rich and colorful in Autumn), prime fishing and fly-fishing, and hiking
  • Powderhorn Ski Resort – near Mesa, CO
  • Hundreds of lakes, endless alpine forests, and meadows – a prime area for camping, fishing, hiking, exploring, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc.
  • Lands End Observatory – sits on the edge of Grand Mesa, viewing all 6,000 ft of the valley below and Utah’s La Sal Mountains to the west – located at the end of the byway’s offshoot
  • Land-O-Lakes Overlook – view the 300+ lakes at this stunning overlook
  • Grand Mesa Visitor Center – offers hiking trails, exhibits – located at the junction of CO-65 and Forest Development Rd 121

Location

  • 226 miles from Denver, CO
    • To drive from Denver – start at 4600 Washington St Denver, CO or N 39.780° W 104.979°
    • Take I-70 west
    • Follow I-70 until the beginning of the byway, the junction with CO-65 – N 39.184° W 108.281°
  • Driving the byway:
    • The byways starts at the intersection of I-70 and CO-65, just northeast of Palisades, CO
    • Drive west on CO-65 until it meets CO-330
    • At this junction, continue on CO-65 driving south until it meets F.S. 100 Rd on the western side of the road, which is the beginning of the westward offshoot to the byway
    • Follow F.S. 100 Rd for approximately 1 mile before driving northwest on A. Rd for approximately 10 miles – this will take you through much of Grand Mesa National Forest
    • After you see enough of the forest or reach the end of the offshoot, head back and continue south along CO-65 until you reach Cedaredge, the end of the byway
  • Lodging is available between Mesa and Cedaredge
  • Gas, restrooms, camping (may have fees, no RV or dump hookups), and shopping are available along the route
  • Grand Mesa Visitors Center is handicap accessible

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway

Overview

The Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway stretches around the Great Sand Dunes National Park and winds its way down to the state border with New Mexico. Its name means “the ancient roads,” and was given for its part of the 16th-century Spanish territorial expansion. The San Luis Valley that the byway traverses is filled with some of Colorado’s oldest and richest history. Visitors can explore the sand dunes and then continue along and explore the Hispanic culture and sites all throughout the valley.

129 miles – approximately 3 hours driving time/ 4 hours recommended for sightseeing

Key Attractions

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park – North America’s tallest sand dunes, hundreds of feet high, stretching miles
  • San Luis – Colorado’s oldest surviving community
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe – Colorado’s oldest church
  • Fort Garland – one of Colorado’s oldest and first military posts
  • Historic adobe structures and missions, museums, and galleries
  • Panoramic views all throughout the San Luis Valley

Location

  • Located in the center of southern Colorado
  • The byway starts in Alamosa, CO and travels north, then west into Great Sand Dunes National Park, then southerly out of the park – it ends at the state line of Colorado and New Mexico

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway

Overview

Whether you take one day to drive sections of this beautiful byway, or 3 days to intimately explore and venture to stops and close destinations, San Juan Skyway will provide everything a traveler is looking for, from stunning views of green forests and red rock mesas, to both ancient and modern historic locations. Road-bike along the byway, camp near San Juan National Forest, hike to Mesa Verde, relax in hot springs, ride the narrow-gauge railroad, or just enjoy a beautiful drive along some of Colorado’s most varying landscapes.

233 miles / 375 km

Key Attractions

San Juan Skyway Map
  • Mesa Verde National Park, near the cities of Mancos and Cortez, along the byway – an ancient city of cliff dwellings, rock art, and artifacts that belong to the ancestral Pueblo Indians, or the Anasazi people
  • Historic mining and railway locations – tourists may take train rides from Durango to Silverton, CO
  • Beautiful contrasts between the high mountain peaks (the San Juan Mountains), forests, and low meadows and valleys  – particularly beautiful in the Autumn months
  • Bridal Veil Falls, CO, overlooking Telluride, CO – 365 ft. waterfall with a wide stream cascading over a rocky cliff face and surrounded by beautiful forest
  • Fantastic mountain views for camping, fishing, hiking, exploring, skiing, driving, and world-class, challenging biking
  • Five million acres of wilderness in the San Juan National Forest and Uncompahgre National Forest

Location

  • Located in the southwest of Colorado; 336 miles southwest of Denver, CO
  • Driving the byway (in a circle)
    • San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway begins in Durango, CO, at the junction of US-160 and US-550
    • Drive north on US-550 and continue on as it turns to Main Ave.
    • Continue north to Million Dollar Hwy in Silverton, CO
    • Drive northwest on Million Dollar Hwy to Main St. in Quray, CO
    • Head north to Sherman St, then head to west to CO-145, northwest of Placerville, CO
    • Drive southeast on CO-145 to Dolores, CO, then drive west to Mancos Rd.
    • Head east to US-550 in Durango, CO, where the byway ends

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway

Overview

Silver Thread Scenic Byway runs along Highway 149, through Colorado’s historic mining and ranch land. The Creede and Lake City areas offer authentic views of their pastoral culture and history. Visitors have multiple activities to choose from, should they want to step out from their scenic drive. Be sure to catch the five snowy peaks over 14,000 feet – the same unforgiving area that lost explorer John C. Fremont a third of his men, and caused Alfred Packer to cannibalize his companions during two different fatal winter expeditions.

117 miles

Key Attractions

  • Gunnison and Rio Grande National Forests
  • La Garita, Wminuche, and Powderhorn Wilderness Areas
  • Old mining camps and structures – gold and silver mines, boomtowns
  • North Clear Creek Falls
  • Slumgullion earth slide
  • Uncompahgre Peak – with its shark-like fin
  • Five of Colorado’s mountains that are 14,000+ feet in elevation
  • Windy Point Overlook – overlooks all five “fourteeners”
  • Wheeler Geological Area
  • Creede Underground Mining Museum
  • Creede Repertory Theater – popular theater open May through September
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area
  • Dude ranches
  • Naturally hot springs

Location

  • Located in southwestern Colorado
  • Starting at Blue Mesa Reservoir and Hwy 50, follow SR 149 south from that junction for 117 miles until the end of the byway at South Fork
  • There are amenities and camping along this byway

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway

Overview

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway journeys along some of Colorado’s most scenic wilderness, with elevations rarely measuring below a staggering 9,000 feet. However, that is not all the byway boasts – the entire byway is filled with blue, snow-capped peaks hovering over lush green valleys and canyons. Travelers will cross the Continental divide twice along this route, as well as parallel several rivers. Whether you come for the outdoor recreation, abundant wildlife, or historic mining destinations, everybody can find something magical to see along this unique route.

115 miles / 185 km, Copper Mountain and Minturn to Aspen

Key Attractions

Top of the Rockies Byway Map
  • Snow-capped peaks, green meadows, lush, narrow canyons, and sparkling blue lakes
  • Historic railroads, mining towns, like Leadville, and ranches, like Escondido Ranch – located near Red Cliff, CO
  • Holy Cross Wilderness and several national forests – spectacular scenery – blue ridges over green trees or meadows, lakes, and trails
  • Fishing, hiking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and ATV trails
  • Wildlife includes bighorn sheep, prong horn antelope, red tail foxes,
  • Picturesque wildflowers in the warmer months
  • Some of the highest peaks in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains – including Mount Elbert, Twin Peaks, Mount Hope, and Quail Mountain
  • Cross-country skiing (Mayflower Gulch is a prime spot) and skiing/boarding (Copper Mountain, Vail, etc.)
  • Golfing (Mt. Massive Golf Course, the highest golf course in North America)

Location

  • 101 miles from Denver, CO
  • Located in the western-middle section of Colorado
  • Byway consists of three arms branching from Leadville, CO, with endpoints at Aspen, CO, I-70 (just past Minturn, CO), and Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area(just past Copper Mountain, CO)
  • Driving the byway:
    • Leadville to Aspen
    • From Leadville, drive south on US-24
    • Turn west onto CO-82 (Independence Pass Road) in Balltown, CO
    • Continue on CO-82 to Aspen, CO (or just past to Maroon Creek Bridge)
    • This arm of the byway ends here
  • Leadville to I-70
  • From Leadville, drive north on US-24 towards Minturn, CO
  • Continue past Minturn, CO to I-70
  • This arm of the byway ends here
  • Leadville to Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area
  • From Leadville, drive north on CO-91
  • Pass the Copper Mountain Ski Resort to the border of Eagle’s Nest Wilderness Area
  • This arm of the byway ends here
    • There is gas, lodging, food, shopping, and camping along this byway
    • This byway provides several options for the handicapped, including the Braille Trail at Independence Pass, located on Hwy 82 at mile marker 54
    • Highway 82 is a narrow road and not very conducive to biking, however, there are paralleling foot/bike trails near the city of Aspen, CO, and more bike-friendly stretches of road near the cities of Twin Lakes and Leadville, CO

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Tracks Across Borders Scenic Byway

Tracks Across Borders Byway runs along the Colorado/New Mexico border between Durango, Colorado and Chama, New Mexicotqc. It provides access to Native American cultures, breathtaking scenery, vital communities, and ancient sites.

tracks across borders map

Total length: 125 miles
Total driving time: 4.5 hours

Portions of the byway are unpaved gravel but suitable for travel in a family car.

The byway roughly follows the tracks of the nation’s largest narrow gauge railroad
system – the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG). It links the D&RG with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR. Both are remaining parts of the San Juan Extension, built in the early 1880’s.

The byway skirts Chaco ruins, Chimney Rock National Monument and Navajo Lake, which is a major recreation area. It provides access to early logging, ranching and farming areas.

The byway is a gem well worth driving.

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway

Overview

The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway wraps around some of the most unique and diverse landscapes in the U.S. The Colorado portion of the byway leads you through several iconic locations, including Mesa Verde National Park, a large ancient group of cliff dwellings nestled into the sandstone cliffs. Visitors have plenty of parks and trails to step off onto to explore the view the beautiful, expansive area. Or, if you are just driving the byway and taking in the experience from your vehicle, the desert views and communities along the road will not disappoint.

480 miles / 772 km total for Colorado and Utah

Key Attractions

Trail of the Ancients Byway Map
  • Mesa Verde National Park – a large array of dwellings and kivas are available to view and walk around
    • Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde is the largest Indian cliff dwelling in North America
    • Balcony House – intact cliff dwelling remains offer a view into a different world, built using mainly sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams
  • Indian Arts and Western Culture Festival – held at Mesa Verde annually
    • Indian Art Market featuring local Native American artists
  • Ute Mountain Tribal Park – features ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs as well as historic Ute Indian petroglyphs
  • Four Corners – the only point in the United States where four boundaries meet
  • Hovenweep National Monument – UT/CO border, one hour west of Cortez, CO – visit Ancestral Puebloan sites and the unique D-shaped structure of towers located at this monument
  • Scenery depicting vast desert landscapes, cedar covered mountains, and unique desert wildlife
  • View the remnants of tough geologic action, through wind and water
  • Camping, biking, and hiking are the main recreational activities along this byway

Location

  • Located in the Four Corners region of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah
  • 287 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, UT; 384 miles southwest of Colorado Spring, CO; 251 miles northwest of Albuquerque, NM
  • Driving the Colorado section of the byway: 
    • Beginning at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado on US-160, travel west 8 miles to the intersection of US-160 and CO-145 where the byway forks and you can go north or south
      • Northern Section:
      • Turn north (right) and follow CO-145 for 9 miles to the intersection of CO-145 and CO-184
      • Follow CO-184 west 8 miles to its intersection with US-491 in Colorado
      • Turn right (north) and follow US-491 for 9 miles to its intersection with Montezuma County Road CC
      • Turn left (west) and follow this route for 4 miles to its intersection with CR-CC and Montezuma County Road 10
      • Turn left (south) and follow CR-10 to the Colorado-Utah state line and the beginning of Trail of the Ancients – Utah, approximately 19 miles
      • Southern Section
      • At the intersection of US 160/491 and 145, continue on US 160/491
      • Travel 40 miles southwest to the Four Corners National Monument in Utah and the terminus of the byway
      • Before the Four Corners Monument, the byway also heads northwest, on CO-41, 10 miles to Trail of the Ancients – UT
  • In Colorado, visitors centers, gas, lodging, and food are located in Cortez and Dolores, CO
  • Camping and restroom locations are located along this byway
  • Fees may exist for entrance to parks
  • Plenty of lodging, food, gas, and camping in various cities

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Trail Ridge/Beaver Meadow Scenic Byway

Overview

Producing some of Colorado’s most picturesque and iconic scenery, Trail Ridge Scenic Byway takes explorers along the ridges of the Rocky Mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park. While traveling the byway and stopping at the many lookout points, visitors will see lush greenery, snow-capped mountains, wildlife, and beautiful wildflowers. Popular recreation includes driving, hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding (on certain trails), and even biking if can brave the narrow roads, steep ledges, and cold temperatures – the climate found here at high elevations is similar to the climate of the Arctic Circle.

48 miles / 77.2 km, Estes Park to Grand Lake

Key Attractions

Trail Ridge/Beaver Meadow Byway Map
  • Bear Lake – a small picturesque lake surrounded by towering trees and snow-capped cliffs
  • Forest Canyon Overlook – overlooks Forest Canyon, Hayden Gorge, and Gorge Lakes
  • Continental Divide – view the amazing separation of two separate climates and ecosystems
  • Continental Divide Scenic Trail – crosses with the byway near Miners Pass – this trail runs 3,100 miles from the Canada/Montana border to the Mexico/New Mexico border – this trail offers grand views of the Rocky Mountains and the spectacular scenery around them
  • Rocky Mountain National Park – scenic views of lush green meadows and forests, high mountain peaks, snow-capped mountains, wildflowers, and even wind-twisted trees up at the high-elevation peaks
  • Over 280 species of birds – named a Global Important Bird Area

Location

  • North-central Colorado
  • 70 miles northeast of Denver, CO
  • Driving the byway
    • The byway starts with a loop (US-34 & US-36 meet at Estes Park and then again at Deer Ridge Junction) and then the main arm continues to the end of the byway (US-34)
    • Start at the intersection of W. Elkhorn Ave. and Moraine Ave. in Estes Park, CO
    • Travelers can take the north portion of the loop first, or the south portion first
      • North Portion:
        • Drive West on W. Elkhorn Ave. to Fall River Rd.
        • Continue west to S. Navy Hill to complete the loop
      • South Portion:
        • From the intersection of W. Elkhorn Ave. and Moraine Ave. in Estes Park, travel south on Moraine Ave. to Park Entrance Rd.
        • Continue west to Fall River Rd.
    • Continue on US-34 to the end of the byway, Grand Lake, CO
  • Gas is only located at the ends of the byways, in Estes Park and Grand Lake
  • Lodging, camping, shopping, and food are located along this byway
  • Longs Peak, Timber Creek, and Moraine Park campgrounds are open year-round
  • The byway travels through Rocky Mountain National Park; there is a park entrance fee
  • Backcountry permits are available at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center
  • Parts of this byway and Rocky Mountain National Park are closed from the end of October until the Friday of Memorial Day weekend

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway

Overview

The Unaweep/ Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway is full of spectacular sites, rich mining and ranch history, and striking contrasts of color and landscape. Visitors can enjoy beautiful vast views, historic sites and museums, and the outdoor recreation along the way.

133 miles; 3 hours driving time

Key Attractions

  • San Miguel River Environmental Area
  • Unaweep Seep – a hillside comprised of a wet sedge, marsh, and seep ecosystem – a large population of wetland plants and insects are found here
  • Dolores and San Miguel Rivers
  • Driggs Mansion – a 6 bedroom home that was built by the Driggs family in the early 1900’s – built to cultivate the desert area establish water rights
  • West Creek Picnic Area
  • Gateway Colorado Auto Museum
  • Nature Conservancy’s Tabeguache Creek Preserve
  • Hanging Flume – perhaps the riskiest and lofty plans in all of mining history
  • Dominguez and Escalante Expedition Historic Marker
  • Nature Conservancy San Miguel Canyon Preserve
  • Gunnison and Dolores Rivers
  • Wildlife – such as the raptor, bald eagle, peregrine, bear, mountain lion, bobcat, elk, mule deer, and coyote

Location

  • Located in western Colorado; 15 miles south of Grand Junction, CO – near the Colorado/Utah border
  • The Unaweep/ Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway is made up of Highways 141 and 145
  • The byway runs from the towns of Whitewater, CO to Placerville, CO
  • If driving from north to south, between the towns of Naturita and Norwood, take Hwy 145 southerly – do not continue on Hwy 141 in a westerly direction
  • If driving from south to north, between the towns of Norwood and Naturita, take Hwy 141 northerly from Hwy 145

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

West Elk Scenic and Historic Byway

Overview

The West Elk Scenic and Historic Byway was described by a forest ranger as “the closest you can come to a wilderness experience in a passenger car.” Visitors are likely to see an abundance of wildlife, scenic and rugged views of some of Colorado’s most iconic mountain scenes, and quite a few places that tempt you to step out of your car to explore. This magnificent landscape has been home to generations of Native Americans, such as the Utes, early White settlers, ranchers, and miners. This byway is rich in history and culture, and abundant in natural beauty and recreation.

205 miles

Key Attractions

  • An abundance of wildlife – such as bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and eagles
  • Three wilderness areas (Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Area, Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, and West Elk Wilderness Area)
  • Thousands of acres of national forest (Grand Mesa National Forest, White River National Forest, Gunnison National Forest
  • Several state parks located in close proximity (Vega State Park, Sweitzer Lake State Park, Crawford State Park, Paonia State Park,
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area – extremely popular fishing, boating, wind sailing, hiking, climbing, camping, picnicking, backpacking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, etc.
  • Crested Butte National Historic District
  • San Juan Scenic Overlook
  • Extremely beautiful scenery – wildflowers, alpine trees and greenery, narrow canyon walls, summits and peaks, majestic mountains, and crystal clear rivers
  • Historic mining and ranching communities and relics

Locations

  • Located in central-western Colorado; approximately 30 miles from Aspen, CO to Carbondale, CO
  • Driving the byway:
    • Starting in Gunnison, CO, drive north of Colorado Hwy 135 toward Crested Butte
    • Then drive west over Kebler Pass (a dirt road usually open from Memorial Day through early November) to Hwy 133 south through Paonia
    • In Hotchkiss, take Hwy 92 east toward Crawford
    • Hwy 92 ends at US Hwy 50 at the Blue Mesa Dam, where you will turn east and drive back to Gunnison
  • There are amenities such as gasoline, food, and lodging located along this byway

www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways

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