Too many of the most scenic drives in America are found in Colorado. It’s just not fair that we’ve hoarded all the best scenic routes and all the best views within our borders. As for variety, well, we’re calling the top prize on that one as well.
Consider that you can see the highest points in the Rocky Mountains on epic Colorado scenic byways like Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, on Top of the Rockies past Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive (the two tallest peaks in the state) and on the San Juan Skyway, which climbs through the dazzling and jagged San Juan Mountains before descending south to the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.
Looking for more Colorado beauty? We’ve got the flatlands covered as well. The Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway travels through the swaying fields of Comanche National Grassland in southeast Colorado, loosely skirting the Arkansas River. And Pawnee Pioneer Trail traverses the Great Plains, where explorers glimpsed the American West hundreds of years ago. A drive on the Grand Mesa byway will dip you in and out of the old-growth forests, aspen stands and lakes atop the world’s largest flat-top mesa.
It’s hard to avoid a helping of history with your Colorado scenic drive. Trail of the Ancients takes you through the quintessential landscape of the American Southwest, where some of the nation’s most significant archeological sites reveal details about the area’s ancient civilization. The Silver Thread scenic byway traces through many of the Colorado Gold Rush towns settled by those seeking to strike it rich in the 1800s. And the Highway of Legends delivers stories of American Indians, Spanish explorers and famed frontiersman Kit Carson. And a handful offer some of the best fall drives in Colorado.
All 26 of Colorado’s scenic and historic byways (11 of which are also designated America’s Byways), and countless other scenic drives that crisscross the highest and lowest altitudes of Colorado, welcome motorcycle riders, leisure drivers and all others hungry for a taste of Colorado’s history and scenic beauty. See a virtual edition of our Guide to Colorado's Scenic Byways.