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The Best Summer Road Trips in Colorado

Summer Road Trips | Boulder, COColorado is home to breathtaking scenery, and there’s no better time to get out and explore it all than during a summer road trip. There are national parks and scenic byways galore in the state that offer unparalleled views alongside adventures. Pack your car and bring friends, family, or pets for this tour of the state.

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

Drive time: One hour to Estes Park, one hour from the scenic byway start to finish.

The drive to Estes Park is itself gorgeous, taking you through canyons and twisty mountain roads. While in Estes, stop for a hike, explore the haunted Stanley Hotel, go whitewater rafting, or horseback riding.

From there, begin the scenic byway on CO Highway 7 and pass the peaks of Lily Mountain and Twin Sisters. The route then takes you on CO Highway 72 through Allenspark to Nederland, where you’ll continue South on CO Highway 119 through Blackhawk and Clear Creek Canyon down to I-70. Along the way, you can pull off at gravel roads to visit ghost towns Hesse and Apex, or pan for gold at the few remaining open gold mines.

Dinosaur National Monument

Drive time: six hours from Boulder

Dinosaur National Monument lies in both Colorado and Utah, along the northern border at the junction of the Yampa and Green rivers. On the Colorado side, visitors to the monument can explore canyons, hike the Harpers Corner Trail to watch whitewater rafts, and camp nearby. The Utah side of the park is where visitors can see the dinosaur fossils. Either way to Dinosaur National Monument, either I-70 or Highway 40, provides gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains.

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway

Drive time: The byway itself takes two and a half hours to complete, depending on traffic.

The Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway is not only the fastest way to Aspen from Boulder, but the most beautiful, too. This route is open only during the warmer months, as it narrows to nearly one-lane just outside of Aspen. The byway takes you through Minturn, Red Cliff, Leadville, and Twin Lakes before you reach Aspen, and each small town has its own history and opportunities for exploration. In Leadville, for example, walk along Main Street and take in the turn-of-the-century architecture in this old mining town. In Aspen, be sure to visit the stunning Maroon Bells.

As an added bonus, drive back through Glenwood Springs and visit the Adventure Park, hot springs, and more.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Drive time: Four hours and twenty minutes from Boulder

The Great Sand Dunes National Park offers the chance to see wetlands, mountains, and sand dunes all in one location. You can camp, hike, sandboard, and more while taking in the incredible landscape. For a beautiful drive to the dunes, take Highway 285. You will drive past South Park–the inspiration for the TV show–through Buena Vista and its hot springs, and past the Collegiate Peaks and Salida. Each town along this route offers plenty of activities for the adventurous, as well as opportunities for relaxation, so be sure to stop along the way to explore the local communities.

Colorado’s scenic byways give drivers the opportunity to take in all the diverse landscapes our state has to offer. There’s no shortage of short trips to historic and beautiful locations, as well as chances for longer drives to national parks in the state. If you’re heading out on a road trip, be sure to bring a friend to take lots of photos, or stop along the way. Post your photos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and use the tag #MyBoulderSummer to be automatically entered in our random, no-contest giveaways!

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