Peak to Peak Highway
If you are looking for a beautiful drive through the Colorado Rocky Mountains, check out Peak to Peak Highway located in Boulder County, Colorado. This gorgeous historic route, established in 1918, starts on Interstate 70 to the South and Estes Park to the North. This is the oldest scenic byway in Colorado. The drive provides views of the entire Front Range in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, passing through many Colorado mining ghost towns. The Peak to Peak Highway is a tourist destination and a local favorite.
From Peak to Peak the drive takes around three hours, depending on how many stops you make, and there is plenty of stops to be made! If you enter from Estes Park, you can take in the views of everything Estes. The Historic Stanley Hotel, which made movie history, is a popular tourist destination. The hotel is featured in Stephen King’s The Shining and visitors flock to room 217, where the author has said to have gained his inspiration for the book and movie. While in the park, you can enjoy brunch at one of the local diners or grab some freshly pulled taffy from local candy workers. During the fall season, tourists from all over the world come to Estes Park to try and catch a glimpse at the elk mating season. There are so many elk all over the park that they are hard to miss and come springtime, you can see all the cute new babies.
When you head South, the trees will surround you and the views are breathtaking. You can see all fourteen thousand feet of Longs Peak, take in stunning views of Lily Lake, and capture pictures of beautiful, lush, forestry. If you are interested, pack a gold pan, and try panning for gold along the many creeks that line the roadside. There are gold mines along highways 72 and 119, that allow visitors to pan for gold, just like in the old days. This area used to be referred to as the “richest square mile on earth,” hopefully you will feel some of those riches on your hunt for real gold!
When you are ready for a pit stop, you can visit the old silver mining town of Nederland. This old town was established to support the silver camps in Caribou, now a deserted ghost town on the hillside. Nederland is also the entrance to Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, a local favorite for hiking and cross-country skiing. There are several Nordic Trails throughout the area and the town is famous for its outdoor recreation. You will never be bored or run out of new things to do or see when visiting this small town.
If you complete your trip all the way through, you can end up in Central City or Black Hawk to do some gambling and grab some drinks with friends. Black Hawk is a small town that also offers gold mine tours and serves up Colorado history with their Central City Opera House, still in operation today. With over ten casinos and hotels, this hidden getaway is a popular destination for Colorado locals and out-of-state visitors. If gambling is not your cup of tea, you can check out Dory Lake, Belleview Mountain, or even go white water rafting in Idaho Springs. Black Hawk and Central City make a great end (or start!) to your drive across the Peak to Peak Highway.
You can also exit off into Boulder and experience Boulder Falls along the way. Make sure to bring your camera because this is not one to be missed. You also have the chance to drive right into Roosevelt National Forest, which is a great place for camping, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities – something for every season! Locals rave about the private fishing that is spread throughout the area and encourage visitors to bring their poles and bait!
In the winter, the drive is littered with active ski resorts, Eldora Mountain Ski Resort is a fan favorite. The locals here are more than happy to help you find something new! The communities that surround the ski resort are filled with instructors, tour guides, and equipment experts, who can assist in getting you the right gear and headed in the right direction.
The drive offers beautiful mountain scenery and an up-close and personal look at the Continental Divide. The hills are covered in beautiful aspen and pine trees that highlight the earth’s natural beauty. During autumn months, the aspen trees change colors, setting the hill on fire with bright yellows, oranges, and reds. When visiting throughout the winter, the beautiful snow-capped mountains are in full view, and the pine trees are covered in untouched snow. This is a great place for an intimate romantic getaway for you and your partner.
No matter the season or the reason, you will be over the moon with your trip across the Peak to Peak highway. Everyone in your family will find new things to do and will be in awe of the views that surround them. Each town is full of small local businesses, making it easy to feel right at home. The drive allows for quick exits to some of the most popular Colorado destinations like Boulder and Estes Park. There is so much to do and see along the way, the beautiful byway makes for a great day trip or just a nice long drive. There is an experience for everyone along this historic stretch of road. Filled with outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and local favorites, the highway is a must-do while in Colorado.