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Take The Long Way Home With These 4 Scenic Drives Across Colorado

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Photo: Grand Mesa Scenic Byway
The view from Skyview Point along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway.

Stewart Green has clocked thousands of miles on the road with his white pick-up truck. He has a passion for sussing out the best drives in Colorado, not for the speediest routes or the freshest asphalt, but for the most scenic views. 

Green recently published the fifth edition of his book “Scenic Driving Colorado.” Here are four of his picks for the best landscape eye candy in the state.

Grand Mesa Scenic Byway

Colorado’s Western Slope is home to the world’s tallest mesa, appropriately named the Grand Mesa. This 75-mile drive scales the plateau to its 11,237-foot peak, offering views of hundreds of lake, spruce and aspen forests and meadows along the way. On the way out toward Grand Junction, the road becomes level with the Colorado River, which is at peak flow this time of year.

Rim Rock Drive 

This 22-mile drive from Grand Junction and Fruita winds through the Colorado National Monument. The route offers plenty of access to trailheads for drivers that want to travel by foot through the monument’s famous sandstone buttes. The rock formation is 150 million years old and has preserved fossils of dinosaurs and historic mammals.

Trail Ridge Road 

This is maybe the classic Colorado scenic drive. The 45-mile route starts in Estes Park and climbs through the Rocky Mountains before dropping you off at Grand Lake. Stretches of the road are above 12,000 feet, making it the highest continuous highway in the United States. There are multiple areas to stop along the way and hit the trails above the timberline. The high tundra environment at the top of the peaks offers unique plants and animals.

Los Caminos Antiguos

If you’re a history buff, this is the ideal drive. This long, 152-mile route in the San Luis Valley travels by several historic colonies in some of the earliest places settled in Colorado. You’ll also spot tons of wildlife and enjoy views of the Great Sand Dunes on the drive from Alamosa to the New Mexico border. The road is also unchanged in modern history — the driving experience hasn’t changed much in the past 30-40 years