5 Must-Do Colorado Summer Road Trips
It's that time of year. The weather is beautiful (for the most part), the roads in the high country are starting to clear out, and it's time to explore.
We here in Colorado are blessed with some of the most incredible scenery in the world and not just that but different types of scenery as well all over the state and there's no better time to explore that scenery than during the summer.
According to Trips to Discover, these particular road trips are filled with adventure, fun and of course: views. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is get in the car, start driving, and see where I end up. Now, with this being my first full summer here in Colorado with my family, we are going to be planning (at least a little bit) to hit a couple of these road trips, and at LEAST to take in everything that this wonderful state has to offer.
I've actually done a big portion of the Peak to Peak highway this past fall, and it was breathtaking. Let's take a peek at some of these stunning drives through Colorado and perhaps it can spawn a road trip or summer adventure for you and your family, too.
In no particular order...
1. Peak to Peak Highway
We'll start with this one, because this is one that I've actually been on and was thoroughly impressed by. On my random trip out to Central City last fall, I decided to take the backroads and head down through Blackhawk back to Fort Collins and ended up on this highway which is absolutely stunning. After a nice little lunch in Nederland, I hit the road and was back in Estes Park. It was a beautiful drive, especially in the fall when all of the aspens are on full display.
YouTube/ My Road Tours
2. Independence Pass
Independence Pass is the highest paved pass in North America, peaking at more than 12,000 feet above sea level. It's a very popular route back and forth between Denver and Aspen and, understandably so, as the scenery along the 44-mile route is some of the most jaw-dropping in all of Colorado, and is one of the most viewable from a major highway. Pack your boots too, there are LOTS of awesome hiking trails along the way too...AND the ghost town of Independence.
YouTube/ Opting Out Of Normal
3. Poudre River Canyon
Duh...we know about this one, but if you don't or if you are new in town, you definitely want to check out this drive as soon as possible. It sits along the historic Cache la Poudre River, Colorado's only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River. On this drive, you'll experience some incredible cliffs and rock formations as you pass by the Mishawaka (The Mish) which is a phenomenal music venue and there's no worries about running out of road for a while....it extends for 101 miles. If you have kids in the car, there's a really cool playground about 30 minutes or so out of Fort Collins that has a cool nature playground, trails and rocks along the river.
YouTube/ My Road Tours
4. The Million Dollar Highway
I just want to drive on this road because of its cool name, not to mention all the things it offers when it comes to views, breathtaking scenery (plus some pretty scary spots too in terms of drop offs and cliffs) and awesome little towns you pass along the way.
The towns at either end offer lots to experience as well. Ouray, which is a place on my "must check out list" has a Main Street that is lined with century-old Victorian buildings and old western mining town-style buildings. It's actually registered as a National Historic District and also hosts a mineral hot springs pool. Sounds like the PERFECT spot to stop and spend the day or night.
Silverton is also on this road and is designated as a National Historic District and there are lots of places for uncovering the past, like the old county jail, Old Hundred Gold Mine, and the Mayflower Gold Mill National Historic Site. Can you imagine the ghosts running around these places?
YouTube/ Rugged Mile
5.Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway
This loop trip begins and ends at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, situated along its border with Utah. This landscape is home to some of the most significant dinosaur fossils on Earth. Gaze at the wide open spaces with beautiful rock formations, and make sure you check out Carnegie Quarry, a world-renowned site with almost 1,500 visible dinosaur fossils and interesting interactive exhibits.