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Get Out and Drive the Scenic Highways of Colorado Ski Country

Colorado Department of Transportation The San Juan Skyway; Photo by the Colorado Department of Transportation

 

In Colorado Ski Country, our favorite season is clearly winter. However, fall is also an amazing time of transformation in the high country as the light gets lower, the nights get colder, and the leaves change to a dazzling array of colors.

One of our favorite fall activities is to get out and drive some of the scenic highways of Colorado Ski Country to soak up the scenery. We’ve pulled together a list of a few of our top drives going through or near some of our favorite Colorado ski destinations.

The San Juan Skyway and Telluride

Federal Highway Administration Federal Highway Administration

 

If you have the time to make a longer trip, you should really consider the San Juan Skyway. This route is a 230+ mile loop circling around the San Juans and connecting Ouray, Silverton, Durango, Cortez, Placerville, and Ridgeway. The route also takes you by the entrance to Telluride which would be an excellent place to stop for a night (or a lifetime) for some of the most stunning scenery you can ever imagine. A good overview can be found at http://www.ouraycolorado.com/things-to-do/san-juan-mountains/san-juan-skyway.

Aspen area

They don’t call it Aspen without good reason! There are too many routes around Aspen to know where to begin. While the trip up to Maroon Bells is incredible, well suggest another option of driving to the historic ghost town of Ashcroft via Castle Creek road. It’s about 15 miles of jaw-dropping beauty. And to boot, there’s also a great lunch or dinner spot to be found with stunning views at the Pine Creek Cookhouse http://pinecreekcookhouse.com/. More about driving around Aspen at http://www.gosnowmass.com/activity/sightseeing/.

Peak to Peak Highway Near Eldora

One of the main access routes to Eldora ski resort is Highway 72, also affectionately called the Peak to Peak Highway. Easily accessible from many parts of the Front Range, this route offers stunning vistas and plenty of Aspen trees. The route spans from Estes Park to Blackhawk and Central City. More details can be found at https://www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways/north-central/peak-to-peak.

Steamboat Springs via Winter Park

Let’s not forget the northern part of the state. Driving through Winter Park and the Fraser Valley on Route 40 is a scenic way to work your way towards Steamboat Springs. As you get closer to Steamboat, Rabbit Ears Pass offers stunning and wide-open views into the Yampa Valley. Once you get to Steamboat, check out http://www.steamboatchamber.com/plan-your-trip/vacation-planner/scenic-drives for more inspiration.

A couple of tips for adventurers:

  • Get an early start on the road as many of these are popular routes.
  • Pack a picnic, folding chair, and plenty of water.
  • If you can swing it, making a long weekend out of it and either camping or looking for deals on shoulder season lodging rates can make for an even better trip.

Additionally, Colorado has twenty-five federally designated scenic byways, more than any other state, located in all four corners of the state (and of course in Ski Country). Find out more information about these byways here:https://www.codot.gov/travel/scenic-byways.

Get out there and enjoy the fall while you can. Winter is just around the corner!