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CollegiatePeaksArkansasRiverSalida Cathy Edwards
Photo by Cathy Edwards

christmas 1806 sign 031013 72 Cathy Edwards
Photo by Cathy Edwards


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


  • 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

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