road trips in Colorado

7 Road Trips in Colorado For Scenic Drives with Family

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado is a state that boasts some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the United States. With its soaring peaks, pristine lakes, and charming towns, it’s a paradise for road trip enthusiasts. If you’re ready to hit the open road and explore the Centennial State, here are seven unforgettable road trips in Colorado that will leave you in awe.

1. Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park

road trips in Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado via Getty Images

For an unforgettable road trip in Colorado, Trail Ridge Road is a must. This 48-mile journey through Rocky Mountain National Park leads you to heights over 12,000 feet, making it North America’s highest continuous paved road. Along the way, be sure to pause at scenic overlooks, explore hiking trails, and keep your camera ready to capture the diverse wildlife, from majestic elk to bighorn sheep and charming marmots. Trail Ridge Road offers a breathtaking adventure in the heart of Colorado’s natural beauty.

2. The Million Dollar Highway: Durango to Ouray

The Million Dollar Highway via Getty Images

Prepare yourself for one of the most scenic drives in the world – the Million Dollar Highway. This road trip in Colorado starts in Durango, where the winding route takes you through the rugged San Juan Mountains. As you navigate hairpin turns and steep cliffs, you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views of canyons and peaks. Be sure to stop in the picturesque town of Silverton before reaching the final destination, Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America.” Soak in the natural hot springs and savor the mountain charm.

3. The San Juan Skyway: A Loop Through Alpine Splendor

For a more extended adventure in the San Juan Mountains, embark on the San Juan Skyway, a 236-mile loop. This road trip in Colorado offers an extraordinary mix of landscapes, from colorful aspen groves to ancient cliff dwellings. Durango, Telluride, and Cortez are among the delightful towns you’ll encounter along the way. The skyway’s high mountain passes, and winding roads make it perfect for photographers and thrill-seekers alike.

4. The Royal Gorge Route: Cañon City to Colorado Springs

If you’re seeking a shorter but no less spectacular journey, explore the Royal Gorge Route from Cañon City to Colorado Springs. This road trip in Colorado takes you through the awe-inspiring Royal Gorge, where the Arkansas River cuts through granite walls towering over 1,000 feet. You can even ride the Royal Gorge Route Railroad for a unique perspective of this natural wonder. As you reach Colorado Springs, don’t miss the Garden of the Gods and the iconic Pikes Peak.

5. The Scenic Byway of Mesa Verde: Durango to Mesa Verde National Park

road trips in Colorado
The road and scenery leading into Mesa Verde National Park via Getty Images

Delve into Colorado’s rich history by taking a road trip to Mesa Verde National Park. Starting in Durango, you’ll journey to the park, which is renowned for its ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings. Explore the well-preserved archaeological sites and hike the trails to discover the secrets of these remarkable structures. Along the way, you’ll witness the transition from mountain landscapes to the unique terrain of the Four Corners region.

6. The Peak to Peak Highway: Boulder to Estes Park

Embark on a captivating road trip in Colorado starting in Boulder, where the Peak to Peak Highway unfolds a remarkable adventure through the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Along this scenic route, don’t miss the chance to visit charming Nederland and the intriguing ghost town of Apex. Once you reach Estes Park, your Colorado journey can extend further into the wondrous landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park, offering endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

7. The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway: Palisade to Cedaredge

Beautiful sunset picture of Interstate I70, Grand Junction, Colorado, with Grand Mesa in the background via Getty Images

Escape the crowds and discover the serene beauty of Colorado’s Western Slope with the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. This road trip in Colorado takes you from Palisade, a renowned wine region, to Cedaredge. En route, you’ll ascend the Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. Enjoy fishing in pristine lakes, hiking through aspen groves, and taking in panoramic vistas. Stop at local orchards to savor fresh fruit and artisanal treats.

As you embark on these road trips in Colorado, you’ll not only witness some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country but also create memories that will last a lifetime. From the towering peaks of the Rockies to the charming towns that dot the landscape, Colorado offers a diverse range of experiences for road trip enthusiasts. So, pack your bags, gas up the car, and prepare for an adventure that will leave you spellbound at every turn. Colorado’s beauty awaits you!

Also, you may want to check out the 6 Hiking Trails in Colorado for Adventure-Loving Kids.

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