Wherever you drive in Colorado at whenever of year, the landscapes are usually stunning. Some roads in Colorado are designated as scenic byways and are particularly outstanding. Other mountain passes are just as amazing, though like the byways, may only be openly seasonally from late spring to early fall.
National Scenic Byways in Colorado
Twenty-five routes are designated as national scenic byways, and countless other roads are worth taking. Most are free, while some including Mt Evans, Pikes Peak, and Trail Ridge Rd, charge a fee. Many are accessible year round, while some are seasonal. Some require high-clearance 4WD, while others are fine for nearly all 2WD vehicles.
Mountain Passes in Colorado
Many of Colorado’s high mountain passes are only open seasonally, and may even require a high-clearance, 4×4 to make the trip. Others are suitable for year-round driving, with regular automobiles of both 2 and 4-wheel drive varieties, weather pending of course. You’ll be assured of a scenic drive, especially if you pull over at the top and enjoy an overlook or view of the summit.
Other Auto Tours
In addition to the 26 designated national scenic byways and various mountain passes, Colorado is home to countless other scenic journeys. Hop in your car and consider one of these roads to adventure. Some require high-clearance 4WD, others just 2WD.
Map of Scenic Drives
Featured Road Trips
Guide to Scenic Drives in Colorado
You don’t have to go far to find a scenic road in Colorado. There are some though that stand out among the others. Most of them are the perfect way to spend a lazy weekend, cruising around the Rockies by daylight, and camping under the stars come nightfall.
Late spring through fall is the best time to travel, though some of these scenic drives are open year round. Located along many of them are outstanding attractions, from spooky ghost towns to world-class fishing, and majestic waterfalls to alpine peaks.
Colorado features twenty-five designated national scenic byways. These are the safest bet for guaranteed glorious views and well-maintained roads. However, it’s often best to get off the beaten path and explore the hidden side of the Colorado Rockies. The choice is yours. Carry a detailed map and play it by ear!
Colorado Driving Tips
- Always be sure to fuel up, towns are often far apart in the mountains, and cell phone reception is spotty.
- Carry a map. They are free at visitor centers and usually any place with a rack of brochures.
- Better than a free map is a Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer (affiliate link), showing all the little roads that the more you travel the more you need to know.
- Good tires, air pressure, keep a well-maintained vehicle.
- Keep an eye on COtrip.org, which has up-to-date highway road cams, traffic delays, road construction, and closures.
Colorado’s 26 Scenic and Historic Byways (CDOT)
More information on scenic byways can be found at coloradodot.info.
Latest in Scenic Drives
Known as “America’s Mountain”, Pikes Peak features an impressive summit of 14,115 feet and plenty of…
Road-tripping is an American pastime, and traveling in Colorado should be too. Year-round its changing seasons…
Places like Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde National Parks have stunning auto tours. Or see the countryside the way the settlers did, by train. Railroads can be found in many mountain towns.