Being one of the most picturesque states in America means that there’s some incredible Colorado road trips to choose from. This state is packed full of stunning peaks, large national parks and above all, lots of vast spaces to drive through.
The list features a mixture of different length trips that can be done in a few hours or enjoyed as part of a long weekend. With great camping spots and places to stay along the way, you can make a mini vacation out of these road trips.
Pack up the car, round up some friends or family and get ready to meander your way through this visually stunning state…
The Best Colorado Road Trips
1. Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Whether you begin your journey at Estes Park or Grand Lake, Trail Ridge Road travellers climb some 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes! There are numerous trails, short hikes and scenic pull-off spots. The entire trip crosses about 50 miles of spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery.
Distance: 48 miles
Route highlights: Views of the Rockies from every direction, Estes Park and Grand Lake
When to do it: June to September
2. White River National Forest
Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway is a secluded, 82-mile stretch in beautiful Northwest Colorado. It connects the towns of Yampa (to the east) and Meeker (to the west). There’s stunning scenery along the route and wildlife spotting opportunities, too. This remains very much a “working” byway, dotted with active mines, ranches, and timber-producing woodlands.
Distance: 82 miles
Route highlights: Breckenridge, Independence Pass, Twin Lakes,
When to do it: Summer
Established in 1918, this is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway. The route includes spectacular views of snow-capped peaks along the Continental Divide and stop-offs at historical mining communities with architecture from the late 1800s, such as Black Hawk and Central City.
Distance: 55 miles
Route highlights: Roosevelt National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park
When to do it: May to October
4. Cache la Poudre-North Park
This historic byway follows a route that was used by settlers to connect the northern plains of Colorado with the Green River settlement in Utah. As you travel up the winding road, take time to pull over and watch the awesome force of the Cache la Poudre’s rapids!
Distance: 100 miles
Route highlights: Mishawaka outdoor music venue, Chambers Lake, Cameron Pass, North Park and the Rawah Wilderness
When to do it: Spring- Summer
5. Gold Belt Scenic Byway
Just an hour from Colorado Springs, this byway through the state’s Gold Country consists of many routes featuring famous roads and byways such as Phantom Canyon Road, Shelf Road, High Park Road and Teller County Road 1. You’ll also get a chance to see major landmarks, such as Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge and Phantom Canyon.
Distance: 135 miles
Route highlights: Florissant, Canon City, Cripple Creek
When to do it: Spring and Summer
6. Independence Pass
Part of Highway 82, Independence Pass traverses over the Continental Divide between Leadville and Aspen. Not only is it the highest paved pass in North America and a classic Colorado drive, it also offers access to excellent hiking, biking and more. Featuring many stops along the way to enjoy scenic views, the road is steep, narrow and twisty, but don’t worry – it’s safe!
Distance: 44 miles
Route highlights: Twin Lakes; The Grottos Ice Caves; The North Star Nature Preserve.
When to do it: Summer.
7. Pikes Peak Highway
A great route near Colorado Springs is the Pikes Peak Highway. Take the trip up to the mountain’s summit and overlook the city. The road starts at 7,400 feet and climbs up to 14,115 feet at the top of the mountain. On your way up, you’ll see beautiful trees, serene lakes, hills and mountaintops.
Distance: 19 miles.
Route highlights: Crystal Reservoir fishing; Barr Trail hike; Devils Playground for photographs.
When to do it: Year-round, but in winter part of the highway could be closed due to snow.
If you are spending time in the state, check out 7 Mind-Blowing Airbnbs For The Ultimate Colorado Staycation.