Colorado RV Vacation Scenic Byways

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

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The Colorado Rockies offer RV vacationer a perfect paradise. You’ll find 25 scenic byways in this state, some of which are among the highest in elevation in the U.S. The views of the tall peaks and wide valleys are astounding. Along the way, you’ll find culturally interesting towns to visit, great trails to explore, and activities, such as rafting, mountain biking and kayaking to try out.

Below you’ll find a couple great byways to check out on your Colorado RV vacation.

Trail of the Ancients Scenic and Historic Byway

RV camping near a mountain lake in southwest Colorado. (Colorado Tourism Office)

Here you’ll find a other-worldy of reddish brown sandstone, buttes, mesas and hills are dotted with the dark green of piñon juniper pine. In the distance, the deep blue San Juan Mountains cut the horizon. Along the way you’ll find cliff dwellings tucked away in canyon alcoves and rock art decorating the sandstone are a few of the many highlights to investigate along this byway.

Highlights

Mesa Verde National Park, Dolores, Anasazi Heritage Center, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Yucca House National Monument, Cortez, Colorado Welcome Center at Cortez,

Facts and Figures

Beginning/Ending Points: Colorado/Utah border

Distance (one way): 114 miles

Estimated Driving Time Without Stops: 3 hours

Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway

Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway zigzags through Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The route eventually rises into the southern San Juan Mountains, where evergreens dominate the landscape.

Highlights

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, San Luis and Stations of the Cross Shrine, Fort Garland, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis State Park, Alamosa

Beginning/Ending Points: Cumbres Pass, Alamosa

Distance (one way): 129 miles

Estimated Driving Time Without Stops: 3 hours

Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic and Historic Byway

It won’t take long to be amazed by the Pawnee National Grassland. Meadowlarks sing from their perches, pronghorn graze in the distance and the flat tops of the Pawnee Buttes jut up, dominating the horizon.

Note: Much of this road is packed dirt and caution should be exercised in heavy rain or snowy conditions.

Highlights

Ault, Pawnee National Grassland, Pawnee Buttes, Fort Morgan, Sterling , Overland Trail Museum

Distance (one way): 128 miles

Estimated Driving Time Without Stops: 3 hours

Beginning/Ending Points: Ault, Fort Morgan, Sterling

Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway

The Santa Fe Trail was one of the nation’s first major routes west. While a good portion of the trail runs through Colorado’s prairie, the original path spanned 900 miles and reached from Missouri to New Mexico. This route was so heavily used and integral to the country’s western migration, that original wagon ruts left by pioneers more than 150 years ago can still be seen along sections of the trail. While traveling this historic byway, watch for pronghorn on the prairie – the fastest land mammal in the western hemisphere.

Highlights

Welcome Center at Trinidad, Trinidad, Trinidad State Park, Comanche National Grassland, Fort Carson, La Junta, Rocky Ford, Bent’s Old Fort, Las Animas, John Martin Reservoir State Park, Welcome Center at Lamar

Facts and Figures

Beginning/Ending Points: Trinidad, Lamar

Distance (one way): 188 miles

Estimated Driving Time Without Stops: 4 hours

Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway

Route Summary: Dinosaur Diamond travels through Colorado’s Western Slope, where vineyards spread beneath the foot of tawny-colored mesas. The northern tip of the route passes near Dinosaur National Monument, where, in addition to spectacular fossil finds, rivers oxbow through the land, inviting river rafters to take paddle in hand and ride the rapids. Outside Fruita, along the southern section, take a detour into Colorado National Monument to marvel at its sandstone spires and bluffs.

Highlights

Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument, Fruita, Colorado Welcome Center at Fruita, Highline Lake State Park, Canyon Pintado, Dinosaur, Colorado Welcome Center at Dinosaur, Dinosaur National Monument

Facts and Figures

Distance (Colorado section, one way): 134 miles

Estimated Driving Time Without Stops: 4 hours

Beginning/Ending Points: Grand Junction, Dinosaur

Colorado Rockies Activities

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