Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways - Southwest

Explore Scenic & Historic Drives in the SW Colorado region, from Alpine Loop to the San Juan Skyway, Silver Thread Byway and more.

Alpine Loop Back Country Byway
Explores 65 miles of spectacular peaks and narrow glacial valleys, including two 12,000 foot passes and well-preserved remains of stamp mills, tramways, and ghost towns from the mining boom of the late 1800s. Portions of the route may be visited in normal passenger cars, but beyond these points, off-road vehicles must be used. Visitors may rent 4-wheel drive vehicles in nearby towns of Ouray, Silverton, and Lake City or take a commercial, guided tour of the area. The Alpine Loop also provides access to exceptional high-country hiking, fishing, mountain biking, camping, and other outdoor adventure.
970-641-0471 - ask for the publication "Alpine Explorer"

Bachelor Historic Loop
This 17-mile route takes visitors through Creede's unique silver mining district and past two ghost town sites. The tour begins at the kiosk at the fork of East and West Willow Creek in the canyon north of town and ends at the kiosk on Hwy. 149 in Creede. Guide books can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce and are available at the kiosks at the start and end of the tour. Priced at $1.00, this 25 page guide book is a comprehensive narrative of the last great silver mining boom town in Colorado.

Grand Mesa
A 51-mile route following Colorado 65 to I-70 between the towns of Mesa and Cedaredge heading west along the Lands End Road (FDR 100) across the top of Grand Mesa to the Lands End Visitor Center. Highway 65 provides access to a variety of outdoor recreational pursuits and breathtaking panoramas. The new Grand Mesa Visitors Center is open year-round.

San Juan Skyway
A spectacular drive through the San Juan, Uncompahgre, Wilson and Sneffels Ranges. Colorado's first National Forest Scenic Byway loops through the San Juan Mountains, and has been called "The Most Beautiful Drive in America." This 236-mile route follows state-maintained highways on a journey through the towering mountains and mining towns, to the rolling vistas and ancient archaeological sites of Indian Country. You will pass through Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, Cortez and Mancos. Free.
Please call 970-247-4874 for San Juan Skyway Information.

Silver Thread Scenic Byway
This 75-mile long route extends from Lake City through Creede to South Fork along Colorado Highway 149 in the San Juan Mountain Range. Panoramic views, plenty of wildlife, and area rich in the history of Native Americans, the first Anglo explorers, and Victorian-era mining. Route is outlined on current state highway map.

Trail of the Ancients
The trail begins at the Four Corners Monument, travels to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, then continues to Mesa Verde National Park. From Cortez, you can backtrack to the Anasazi Heritage Center and on to Lowry Pueblo. Hovenweep National Monument is your final stop, but three side trips: Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez Center, and the Galloping Goose Museum add adventure to your travels.

Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway
This 138-mile route follows Colorado Highways 141 and 145 on the western slope of Colorado, from just outside of Grand Junction to Placerville. Follows the course of Unaweep Canyon, continues through the vivid desert "redbeds" of the Dolores River canyon, and opens onto the high plains, framed by the magnificent San Juan Range.

West Elk Scenic and Historic Byway
A uniques combination of geological, historical, recreational and scenic features. The 205-mile byway originates in Carbondale and follows Colorado Highway 133 over McClure Pass to Crested Butte, from there it continues south to Gunnison, then southwest on U.S. 50 along the Blue Mesa Reservoir, through Sapinero to the junction of U.S. 50 and Colorado Highway 92. The route proceeds north through the towns of Maher, Crawford, Hotchkiss and Paonia, completing the loop in Hotchkiss the traveler returns to Carbondale via McClure Pass.