It is likely that 2021 will be another big year for the road trip. With so many unknowns in regarding to vaccines and the airlines, jumping in the car just may be a lot easier. But where will you go?
Colorado is not short on beauty and it is best seen during a road trip. Thankfully, there is a website dedicated to some of the most scenic drives in the state, Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways, to be exact. What is a scenic byway? Since 1989, these routes around Colorado have been deemed worth the drive to see historic sites and expansive views. Basically, the state has done the hard work, now you just have to drive.
There are 26 of these routes around Colorado, and each provides views as well as having appeal to the history buff. They also take the driver through charming little towns along the way. These scenic byways are an excellent way to see the state. Thankfully, there’s a way to check them out online.
At colorado.com/colorados-scenic-historic-byways, you can see all routes and read a little about each one. Each route is outlined (literally) and there is a bit written about each one on the site. There are also hyperlinks to more information. Some byways are quite famous like Peak to Peak that is not only the oldest byway in Colorado but also links Estes Park to Black Hawk and is one of the prettiest fall drives in the west.
While these better known routes are worth taking, there are a few “off the beaten path” byways that I believe you should consider in 2021.
For example, Frontier Pathways byway is a route that should be considered and not only because the best green chiles can be found in Pueblo, although I think that’s reason enough to go. We found an excellent and well-priced Airbnb during our last trip to Pueblo and there’s lots in this town to keep you busy.
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Hook up with Frontier Pathways Scenic & Historic Byway to add one of their tours to your agenda. This will massively broaden your understanding of this part of Colorado. By the way, Pueblo is home to 83 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. If you are traveling with a history aficionado you may want to spend a little extra time here.
I must also recommend the West Elk Loop. This is a region that I have grown quite familiar with over the years. This scenic byway has it all: adorable towns, huge bodies of blue water, deep canyons, a Colorado castle and hot springs. What more can one ask for?
Start in Carbondale, fueling up at White House Pizza, and then make the drive past Redstone Castle, over McClure Pass and drop into one of my favorite areas of Colorado, the North Fork Valley which encompasses Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford. Stop here for photos of sheep or to browse a market like Berg Harvest for farm fresh cherries.
From here drive the North Rim of the Canyon of the Gunnison National Park toward Blue Mesa Reservoir. Stop in Gunnison for a sandwich at Firebrand Delicatessen and then, keeping your eyes peeled for bald eagles along the river, drive into Crested Butte, one of Colorado’s cutest towns.
I can’t write about all 26 of the scenic byways. I can tell you that the Grand Mesa byway is covered in wildflowers during the summer, the Los Caminos Antiguos byway has views worthy of a magazine spread, and The Trail of Ancients byway is an out-of-this world experience.
Go to the website, www.colorado.com/colorados-scenic-historic-byways, and start planning your road trip today. I have traveled many of these roads so if you have questions, leave them here in the comment area. If I can’t help you, I’ll find someone who can.