Colorado’s Top 5 “Scenic Roads”
For me, driving isn’t about point A to point B. There’s something amazing about being able to strap yourself behind the reins of hundreds of horses, roll the windows down, and just listen to the grunt of the exhaust. It is a time to tune out of 9 to 5 and be present in the moment.
There’s a saying that life isn’t about the destination, but about the journey. Luckily for you, these roads can take you to some incredible destinations as well.
As we approach fall, many of you will be embarking on these roads via car or motorcycle to get pictures of the foliage as it changes colors and the temperatures cool down. For those of you that want to break away from the hustle (or lack thereof) of the interstate highway, here is a list of the five best driver’s roads in Colorado.
How does a road qualify as a driver’s road? To qualify for this list, a road must have some level of curves and technicality, scenery, and a scarcity of traffic lights. It must be a road that is equal or better than the destination. These roads must be accessible to cars, trucks, mopeds, or any other licensed and registered motorized vehicle. Take a look at the following list!
- Highway 67: This is one that I frequent as it is easily accessible from the Front Range. It starts in the small town of Sedalia and ends in Woodland Park. It is a fairly curvaceous, technical road that weaves its way in and out of the aspen trees. In many areas, you also weave in and out of the Hayman Fire Burn Scar. It is a surreal journey. There are plenty of views to be taken in along the way. Whether you are traveling by car or by motorcycle, you are guaranteed to have an incredible time along here. Be sure to stop for lunch in one of the small towns on your way.
- South Lookout Mountain Road: This is a great day trip. It connects the town of Golden to Interstate 70. It is just west of Denver, so expect some congestion as people are trying to escape city life for a few hours. This drive has made the list because of its views, technical turns, and proximity to the city. Any sports car or motorcycle enthusiast in the Denver area should consider this as a mandatory miniature vacation from city life.
- Highway 24 to Highway 9 (Colorado Springs to Breckenridge): The people of Colorado Springs refer to this road as “the back way” to the ski resorts. This way does not stack up with traffic the way that Interstate 70 does. Besides being a more desired route, traffic-wise, for many people, this is also a beautiful road. This road has everything from curvy mountain roads that take you up two mountain passes (Wilkerson and Hoosier), to a long straight road through thousands of acres of ranch land. You can drive these roads for miles and see things you will not see anywhere else in Colorado.
- U.S. 550 (Silverton to Ouray): This road, referred to as “The Million Dollar Highway,” was built to connect the towns of Silverton and Ouray. Both towns are considered some of the greatest small mountain towns in the United States. At the time, this road that carves its way through the mountains and hills only cost around one million dollars. This road is complete with some incredible switchbacks, and even better views. Be careful, as there are many curves with drop-offs that could send you hundreds of feet to the valley below. On most other lists, this road would have made #1, but there are a few flaws that keep it from being perfect. This road can be very crowded and congested. During the week, there are semi-trucks and construction that add to the congestion; on the weekend, tourists, but these are just another excuse to pull off at many of the scenic areas that are prevalent on this road.
- U.S. 82 (Independence Pass): This road has everything that you desire: technical switchbacks, incredible views, and rarity. It’s closed a good portion of the year due to snow buildup. Usually, it is open from June to October, but sometimes snowpack will change that schedule. Not only is the road incredible, but the destination is great. A place where the beer flows like wine; where beautiful women instinctively flock like salmon to Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Aspen. Be careful! This road is only about one and a half lanes wide in many areas. The highway summits at 12,095 feet, and is directly in between two 13,000 peaks. It also offers a clear view of the east side of Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado, and the second highest in the contiguous United States. Consider this a must for a weekend road trip, whether you are setting out in a car or on a motorcycle.
Disclaimer: Many believe that these roads are best enjoyed in an open-air vehicle. There tend to plenty of motorcycles on each of these roads. Look twice, save a life.