Drive the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway from Boulder, and you'll take in some of Colorado's most spectacular scenery. Here's what to keep an eye out for and where to stop along the way.
Pull off of Canyon Blvd./Hwy. 119 on the way to Nederland to see the lovely 70-foot Boulder Falls waterfall, accessible via a very short hike.
Nederland (or "Ned" to locals) is a funky little mountain town. Stop to shop, grab a bite to eat and take a spin on the wonderfully whimsical Carousel of Happiness.
The serene Barker Reservoir laps at Nederland’s banks and is stocked with rainbow trout and other prized species (Colorado fishing license required).
As the locals' favorite ski resort, Eldora has 680 acres of varied terrain and is a great choice for families to learn and enjoy skiing.
The scenic Indian Peaks Wilderness is one of the most popular wilderness areas near Denver for outdoor recreation. There are a total of seven peaks above 13,000 feet, more than 50 lakes and 28 trails covering some 130 miles. Late May to early Oct., access to the popular Hessie Trailhead is best via free shuttle from the Nederland Park-n-Ride (HessieTrailhead.com).
Set in a glacially carved valley, Brainard Lake is a hot spot for snowshoeing in winter and hiking and camping in summer. Lake Isabelle is an especially scenic hike in this area.
This refreshing tributary runs beside the highway between the town of Ward and the turnoff for Overland Road. The Ceran St. Vrain Trail is a great place to enjoy the creek.
This famous fourteener (mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation) is a spectacular behemoth to behold on the horizon.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons, Photograph by Anne Dirkse
This little mountain general store is a good place to get out and stretch your legs, buy a cold soda and chat with the friendly purveyor.
Stop at Allenspark, a cheery mountain town, for legendary cinnamon rolls at Meadow Mountain Café; a visit to Eagle Plume’s, a trading post and Native American art gallery that dates back to 1917; and The Old Gallery, a lively community arts center with gallery exhibitions, concerts and classes.
A lovely photo op awaits at Chapel on the Rock (St. Catherine of Siena Chapel), a classic chapel set against a mountain backdrop.
Heading north from Allenspark, pull over to take some photos of the Wild Basin forest area and views of imposing Mount Meeker and Longs Peak. This is a less-frequented entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Stop at this historic lodge for a charcuterie plate and to see (and learn the story behind) the world’s largest key collection. Open May-October.
As the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a tourist destination with a scenic riverwalk, elk trotting through town, hiking, picnicking on Lake Estes and tours of the historic Stanley Hotel.
Crystalline lakes, jagged peaks, wildlife encounters, trickling alpine streams — it’s all here in Rocky Mountain National Park, America’s third most visited national park. Reservations are required late May to mid-October.
This “highway to the sky” in Rocky Mountain National Park is the highest continuous paved road in the country, traveling to more than 12,000 feet. Check nps.gov for opening and closure information.
Just 12 miles off of the highway via Gap Road are 12,000 acres filled with aspen trees, granite boulders, tall grasses and wildflowers. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a high-alpine landscape surprisingly close to Boulder and Denver. Entry fees apply.