I’ve been extremely lucky to have been on many of Colorado’s roads. However, we usually skip Loveland Pass because it adds a significant amount of time if one is traveling on Interstate 70 (with a few exceptions).
For those who don’t know, Loveland Pass was rendered somewhat unnecessary in 1973 by the construction of the Eisenhower Tunnel. It’s not totally unnecessary because semis and other vehicles utilize it when the tunnel closes due to wrecks or rock falls. Plus, the route (U.S. Highway 6) is home to Arapahoe Basin. For the most part, the tunnel saves a lot of drive time, unless the destination is Arapahoe Basin or Keystone.
The Eisenhower Tunnel and exit to Loveland Pass are located about one hour west of Denver, Colorado on Interstate 70. At the base of both the tunnel and the pass is Loveland Ski Area. Once through the tunnel, drivers find themselves on the west side of the Continental Divide and about 20 minutes from Silverthorne and Dillon, in Summit County.
We’ve taken Loveland Pass just a couple of times while on our way to Keystone, Colorado, in the summer festival season. Keystone is northeast of the Interstate 70 Silverthorne/Dillon exit. Driving the tunnel route will take about the same amount of time as driving Loveland Pass to Keystone, in the summer. In the winter, all bets are off because Colorado weather can be sketchy.
Taking the pass comes with bragging rights, and provides hiking opportunities and sometimes wildlife sightings. In 2018, we were on our way home in August from the Mountain Town Music Festival in Keystone. We decided to take Loveland Pass and I’m glad that we did. This was the biggest herd of Bighorn Sheep I’ve ever seen.
The bragging rights are due to passing the Continental Divide sign where a lot of drivers stop to take photographs. Plus, the road is nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. That’s treeline, folks. Watch for traffic if you stop. Park where you are supposed to park! Obey the signs.
I am not a huge hiker at extreme elevations. My days of trying to “bag fourteeners” for instance, have come and gone, but there are hikes along this pass. Go to AllTrails.com for more information.
The views are why we like to drive over Loveland Pass—they are stunning. Let’s face it, this is a great way to see Colorado’s high country without getting out of the car. That’s super lazy, I know, but I’m usually on my way to or from a festival in Keystone, so a hike isn’t on the agenda.
If you’re headed to one of Keystone’s many summer festivals this summer, I highly recommend this route. Not only does it provide sweeping scenes of Colorado beauty, but it’s also more relaxed than driving the tunnel route.
Get off the Interstate! You’ll never be disappointed you did, especially during a Colorado summer.