7 Best Road Trips In Colorado – Scenic Drives + Scenic Stopovers & Hotels

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This article is about Places to road trip in Colorado with some of the best road trips in Colorado. So go through these scenic drives in Colorado ( Best Colorado road trips).

road trips in colorado - scenic drives in colorado

Road Trips In Colorado – Scenic Drives in Colorado

Road trips in Colorado are a must-do because they offer the unparalleled opportunity to traverse diverse landscapes, from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the picturesque high desert, all within a single state, providing an array of breathtaking natural wonders and outdoor adventures. 

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Colorado’s road trips allow travelers to explore charming mountain towns, iconic national parks, and recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for those seeking scenic beauty and outdoor excitement.

Road Trips In Colorado – Scenic Drives in Colorado

Here’s a list of road trips in Colorado with information on things to do, total miles covered, starting Point, ending point, scenic stopovers, and overnight stay names:

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Rocky Mountain Adventure – Colorado Road Trip

best road trips in Colorado - Colorado road trips

The Rocky Mountain Adventure is a must-do road trip in Colorado because it offers the chance to traverse the stunning Rockies, explore diverse landscapes, and visit iconic destinations like Red Rocks Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, providing an unforgettable mix of natural beauty and outdoor exploration in a single journey. 

    • Starting Point: Denver, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Estes Park, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park – Remember the iconic Trail Ridge Road, which offers spectacular vistas.
  • Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
  • Boulder – Hike the Flatirons. Spend time in Boulder, where you can hike the Flatirons, stroll along Pearl Street Mall for shopping and dining, and visit the University of Colorado campus.
  • Visit Estes Park: Your road trip’s endpoint, Estes Park, offers a charming downtown area, art galleries, shopping, and dining options.
  • Relax at Hot Springs: If you have time, you can take a detour to one of Colorado’s natural hot springs, like Glenwood Springs or Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

Scenic Stopovers

  • Grand Lake: As you exit Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll arrive at Grand Lake, a picturesque mountain town on the shores of Colorado’s largest natural lake.
  • Hidden Valley Snow Play Area (Seasonal): If you visit during the winter, this Rocky Mountain National Park stopover is perfect for sledding and playing in the snow. It offers a winter wonderland experience.
  • Lily Lake: A serene and easily accessible lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Fall River Pass: Located along Trail Ridge Road, this pass offers stunning vistas.
  • Bear Lake and Sheep Lakes (Seasonal): This area is known for its wildlife, mainly bighorn sheep.

Pikes Peak & Garden of the Gods

scenic drives in Colorado - road trips in Colorado

The Pikes Peak & Garden of the Gods road trip in Colorado is worth visiting because it combines the thrill of ascending one of America’s most iconic peaks with the enchanting beauty of the surreal rock formations at Garden of the Gods, creating an unforgettable blend of natural wonders and adventure in a single day trip. 

    • Starting Point: Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Drive to the summit of Pikes Peak. Ascend to the summit of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s iconic “Fourteeners.”
  • Explore Garden of the Gods. Take advantage of the Central Garden Trail for a close-up experience.
  • Marvel at the famous Balanced Rock formation in Garden of the Gods, a unique, precarious-looking sandstone.
  • If you have extra time, consider exploring Colorado Springs, known for its vibrant downtown and the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Scenic Stopovers:

  1. Crystal Reservoir: Along the Pikes Peak Highway, Crystal Reservoir provides stunning mountain reflections.
  2. Glen Cove: This is a significant point on the Pikes Peak Highway.
  3. High Point Overlook for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  4. Cathedral Valley Overlook: Located within the Garden of the Gods, this overlook provides an excellent vantage point for capturing the beauty of the park’s red rock formations.
  5. Siamese Twins Trail: A short trail in Garden of the Gods that leads to the Siamese Twins rock formation. 
  6. Pikes Peak Summit: The highest Point on your journey, the summit of Pikes Peak offers 360-degree views of Colorado’s landscapes and is a prime spot for capturing the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.
  7. Schramm Loop: A trail within Garden of the Gods that takes you through various landscapes, including the park’s famous red rocks.
  8. Helen Hunt Falls: Just a short drive from Garden of the Gods, this waterfall is accessible by a short hike.
  9. Rampart Range Road
  10. Pikes Peak Railroad (Cog Railway)

San Juan Skyway Loop

The San Juan Skyway Loop is worth doing as a road trip in Colorado because it presents a captivating journey through some of the state’s most scenic and diverse landscapes, from ancient cliff dwellings to rugged mountain peaks, offering an unforgettable blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. 

Places to road trip in Colorado - Road Trips In Colorado

    • Starting Point: Durango, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Durango, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, offering picturesque views of the Animas River and the San Juan Mountains.
  • Visit Mesa Verde National Park: Explore the Ancestral Pueblo people’s ancient cliff dwellings and archaeological sites, such as Cliff Palace and Balcony House.
  • Telluride: Explore this charming mountain town with its historic architecture.
  • Silverton: Discover a historic mining town, and consider taking a jeep tour into the surrounding backcountry to explore old mining sites.
  • Hovenweep National Monument: Visit this remote area to see well-preserved ancestral Puebloan structures and appreciate the solitude of the desert landscape.
  • Discover beautiful waterfalls like Bridal Veil Falls near Telluride and Box Canyon Falls in Ouray.

Scenic Stopovers:

road trips in colorado - scenic drives in colorado

  • Lizard Head Pass, including the distinctive Lizard Head Peak.
  • Last Dollar Road
  • Molas Pass: Located on the Million Dollar Highway, Molas Pass offers sweeping views of the San Juan Mountains and the Animas River Valley.
  • Red Mountain Pass
  • Ophir Pass: 
  • Bear Creek Falls: View these spectacular falls along the Million Dollar Highway, accessible via a short hike.
  • Yankee Boy Basin: A picturesque valley with wildflowers and waterfalls.
  • Dallas Divide: This area is trendy when the aspen trees turn golden in the fall.
  • Sneffels Ghost Town: Explore the historic ghost town of Sneffels.
  • Savage Basin Overlook: Located on the Dallas Divide, this overlook provides grand views of the Sneffels Range.
  • Ridgway State Park: This park offers outdoor activities and beautiful scenery along the Uncompahgre River.
  • Owl Creek Pass: A tranquil pass that provides excellent views of the Cimarron Mountains and Uncompahgre Valley.
  • Sheep Mountain Overlook: This overlook offers a spectacular view of the Dallas Divide and the San Juan Mountains along the Last Dollar Road.
  • Lone Cone: A prominent mountain with panoramic views from its summit, accessible by a moderately challenging hike.
  • Rico: A historic mining town.
  • Animas Forks: An abandoned mining town where you can explore well-preserved historic buildings.

Mesa Verde & Four Corners

The Mesa Verde & Four Corners road trip in Colorado is among the best because it offers a unique opportunity to explore ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, providing an unparalleled glimpse into the region’s rich history. The road trip also allows you to stand at the intersection of four U.S. states at the Four Corners Monument, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet, making it an exceptional cultural and geographic experience in a single journey. 

places to road trip in colorado - best colorado road trips

    • Starting Point: Durango, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Cortez, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Explore Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings – Explore the well-preserved cliff dwellings like Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House with guided tours.
  • Drive Mesa Top Loop Road.
  • Visit Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to learn more about Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Visit Four Corners Monument – Visit the Four Corners Monument and have the unique experience of simultaneously standing in four U.S. states.
  • Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
  • Hovenweep National Monument: See ancient Puebloan structures.
  • McPhee Reservoir: Engage in water activities such as fishing, boating, and picnicking near Dolores, Colorado.
  • San Juan National Forest.
  • Anasazi Heritage Center.
  • Cortez: This nearby town offers dining, shopping, and cultural attractions.
  • U.S. Highway 160: This highway connects the Mesa Verde region to the Four Corners area and provides scenic views of the high desert.
  • U.S. Highway 491: If you’re traveling between Cortez and the Four Corners Monument, you’ll have more opportunities for scenic views of the arid landscapes.

Scenic Stopovers:

  • Mesa Top Loop Road Overlooks: This road provides several pullouts and overlooks with stunning views of the Montezuma Valley and the surrounding mesas.
  • Park Point Overlook: The highest Point in Mesa Verde National Park.
  • Far View Sites: Explore archaeological sites with expansive views, including Far View House and Far View Tower.
  • La Plata Mountains Viewpoints: Depending on your route, you might have views of the La Plata Mountains.

Highway of Legends Scenic Byway

The Highway of Legends Scenic Byway stands out as one of the best scenic drives in Colorado due to its mesmerizing blend of natural beauty and rich cultural history, weaving through the Cucharas Pass and Spanish Peaks. This scenic byway offers an enchanting and immersive experience that showcases Colorado’s unique heritage and awe-inspiring vistas in a single drive.

scenic drives in colorado - road trips in colorado

    • Starting Point: Trinidad, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Trinidad, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Drive through the Cuchara Pass.
  • Cuchara: Visit this charming mountain town, where you can explore art galleries, dine in local restaurants, and enjoy the mountain ambiance.
  • Cucharas River: Engage in activities such as fishing, picnicking, and hiking along the Cucharas River.
  • Spanish Peaks: Hike or explore the trails around the iconic Spanish Peaks, known as the “Wahatoya” (Breasts of the Earth) to the Native Americans.
  • Explore the quaint town of La Veta.
  • Visit Lathrop State Park – Located near Walsenburg, this park offers boating, fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities.
  • Gardner, Colorado: Visit the small town of Gardner for a glimpse of rural life and the opportunity to connect with locals.

Scenic Stopovers:

  • Wahatoya Overlook: This viewpoint offers a stunning perspective of the Spanish Peaks (Wahatoya) and the surrounding meadows.
  • Cucharas River Valley Overlook: Located near La Veta, this overlook provides picturesque views of the valley.
  • Highway of Legends Byway Sign: Near La Veta, you can take a photo with the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway sign to commemorate your journey.
  • Bear Lake Campground: A serene and beautiful spot for a picnic or quiet reflection, with views of the Spanish Peaks.
  • Grandote Peaks Golf Club: visit this golf club to enjoy the views and the mountain setting.
  • Francisco Fort Museum in La Veta offers historical insight and a chance to explore a restored fort from the 1860s.
  • Lathrop State Park Overlooks: The park offers several overlooks with views of Martin Lake and Horseshoe Lake and the surrounding landscape.
  • Gardner Butte Scenic Overlook: This viewpoint provides an excellent view of the small town of Gardner.
  • Walsenburg town offers a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning views of the Spanish Peaks.
  • Huajatolla Heritage Foundation Overlook: Near the town of La Veta, this viewpoint provides a different perspective of the Spanish Peaks.

Gunnison to Crested Butte

The road trip from Gunnison to Crested Butte in Colorado is a breathtaking journey through rugged mountain landscapes, offering travelers a picturesque route surrounded by towering peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine wilderness, creating an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. 

scenic drives in colorado - road trips in colorado

    • Starting Point: Gunnison, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Crested Butte, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Enjoy the breathtaking views as you travel along CO-135, which takes you through beautiful mountain landscapes.
  • Kebler Pass: Consider taking a side trip on Kebler Pass Road, a stunning drive renowned for its expansive aspen groves, especially during the fall foliage season.
  • Crested Butte: Spend time in the charming mountain town of Crested Butte, known for its historic architecture, vibrant arts scene, and outdoor activities.
  • Gunnison: Explore Gunnison, a town with a rich history, offering museums, dining, and shops and serving as a gateway to the surrounding natural beauty.
  • Crested Butte Mountain Resort: If visiting during the winter, take advantage of skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports at the resort.
  • Gothic Road: Drive the scenic Gothic Road for picturesque views and access to the Gothic ghost town and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Scenic Stopovers:

  • Tomichi Overlook: Located along CO-135 just north of Gunnison, this overlook offers views of the Tomichi Creek Valley and the surrounding mountain ranges.
  • Jack’s Cabin Cutoff: Along CO-135, this area provides a beautiful view of the valley and forested slopes.
  • Lost Lake Slough Overlook: Located along CO-135, this stopover provides serene views of a high mountain lake and surrounding forests.
  • Lake Irwin: Just off Kebler Pass Road, this area features a beautiful alpine lake with mountain reflections, offering excellent photo opportunities.
  • Oh-Be-Joyful Campground: Near Crested Butte, this area offers views of the Oh-Be-Joyful Creek Valley and access to hiking trails.
  • Crested Butte Scenic Overlook: As you approach Crested Butte, you’ll find scenic overlooks that provide panoramic views of the town and the surrounding mountains.
  • Slate River Road: A side trip on Slate River Road offers beautiful valley views and access to hiking and mountain biking trails.
  • Washington Gulch Road: This road takes you to a beautiful basin with opportunities for wildflower viewing and high mountain vistas.
  • Scholfield Pass: A rugged mountain pass that leads to the Schofield Park area, known for its stunning beauty.
  • Peanut Lake Overlook: Located near Crested Butte, this stopover offers views of Peanut Lake and the nearby mountain slopes.

Trail Ridge Road Adventure

Trail Ridge Road Adventure stands out as one of the best drives in Colorado due to its breathtaking journey through Rocky Mountain National Park, offering travelers unparalleled vistas of alpine landscapes, rugged peaks, and the unique opportunity to cross the Continental Divide, creating a memorable and immersive experience in the heart of the Rockies. 

places to road trip in colorado - best colorado road trips

    • Starting Point: Estes Park, Colorado
    • Ending Point: Grand Lake, Colorado

Things to Do:

  • Drive Trail Ridge Road – Trail Ridge Road Summit: Reach the High Point of the drive and take in the breathtaking 360-degree views from the Alpine Ridge Trail and overlook.
  • Explore the Alpine Visitor Center
  • Visit the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Moraine Park Discovery Center to learn about the park’s geology, wildlife, and history.
  • Explore historic sites like the Holzwarth Historic Site, offering a glimpse into the area’s past.

Scenic Stopovers:

  • Rainbow Curve: This overlook offers expansive views of the Alluvial Fan, Horseshoe Park, and the surrounding mountain scenery.
  • Forest Canyon Overlook: This stopover is an excellent place with panoramic views of the Forest Canyon.
  • Rock Cut: Enjoy views of the glaciated landscape, with a chance to see marmots and pikas.
  • Gore Range Overlook: Take in the distant views of the Gore Range and the Never Summer Mountains.
  • Tundra Communities Trail: This high-elevation trail provides stunning views and a chance to experience the alpine tundra ecosystem up close.
  • Medicine Bow Curve: Named after the neighboring Medicine Bow Range, this viewpoint offers magnificent vistas.
  • Garden of the Gods Overlook: Not to be confused with the famous park in Colorado Springs, this overlook provides views of unique rock formations.
  • Lava Cliffs: Stop to admire the dark volcanic cliffs formed by ancient lava flows.
  • Ute Trail Overlook: Offers expansive views of the park’s backcountry and an opportunity to explore the high-alpine terrain.
  • Goblin’s Forest: Located near the top of the road, this area features twisted, wind-sculpted trees and is perfect for photography.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park Sign: Stop for a photo opportunity at the sign marking the entrance to the park, indicating that you are crossing the Continental Divide.
  • Milner Pass: Visit the pass and its surrounding area, which includes Poudre Lake, the source of the Colorado River.
  • Glacier Basin Campground: This area provides beautiful mountain views and a peaceful setting.
  • Big Thompson River Valley Overlook: Enjoy views of the valley and the river winding through the landscape.
  • Continental Divide Overlook: As you cross the Continental Divide, stop to appreciate the significance of this geographic Point.
  • High Point Overlook: Located near the summit, this viewpoint offers panoramic views of the park’s rugged landscapes.

Places to road trip in Colorado - Road Trips In Colorado

I hope you loved reading about the best road trips in Colorado or Colorado road trips with stopovers, things to do, lookovers overnight stays, and other valuable tips. Save these scenic drives in Colorado (Best Colorado road trips).

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