The Rocky Mountains are considered one of the most dramatic landscapes of the USA. This region, known for skiing in winter, is ideal for road trips during the hot summer days.
Denver – Idaho Springs (33 miles)
The 40-minute drive from Denver to Idaho Springs will take through some of the most beautiful parks outside Denver, a perfect introduction to the Rockies. The first stop is Centennial Cone Park with its 12-mile trail loop, leading to the majestic view of Clear Creek. If you’re lucky, you may meet elks and other wildlife species.
Mine tours, including the Phoenix Gold Mine tour and the Argo Tunnel tour in Idaho Springs are not be missed. Both of them will take you back in time with their museums displaying mining artefacts, receipts, emergency equipment, old photographs, etc. You will certainly be tired and hungry after exploring these old mines, so drop by the Smokin’ Yards BBQ, a family-run restaurant specializing in smoked meat and barbecue sauces. For the end of the day, stay at the Indian Hot Springs.
Idaho Springs – Silverthorne (35 miles)
On your way to Silverthorne, visit a small historic town of Georgetown renowned for its uniquely preserved Victorian architecture. If you’re interested in bike rides, take a 23-mile Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway route in the Pike and Arapaho National Forests. The route follows an old wagon road, linking two silver mining towns of Georgetown and Grant.
Continue with your road trip through the scenic landscape of the Rockies until you arrive at Silverthorne. The tranquil Blue River flows through this small town, nestled between Buffalo Mountain, Red Mountain and Mount Silverthorne. In order to fully experience Silverthorne, take a family-friendly Blue River Trail, or consider bird watching along the Blue. When you’re back in town, drop by the Nepal Restaurant for the taste of the Himalayas.
During the 1960’s, the town of Silverthorne was a makeshift camp for workers constructing the Dillon Reservoir, a water storage facility in the Denver Water system. The Dillon Reservoir surface area offers a large number of recreational activities. Water sports, such as kayaking, rowing, canoeing and windsurfing are available. Nature lovers will love scenic overviews around the Dillon Reservoir as well as numerous hiking and bicycle trails. Make sure you bring your tent as this area is one of the best campsites in Colorado.
Silverthorne – Leadville (34 miles)
Although resorts at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain are buried under snow during winter, in summer they come alive. Visit the village at Copper for a breath of fresh mountain air. You will find a variety of summer activities waiting to be discovered. For instance, a free round-trip ride on the American Eagle chairlift cannot be missed. Adventure seekers will enjoy the largest outdoor climbing wall in Colorado, the Zip Line as well as bungee jumping.
The colorful history of the next stop, Leadville will take your breath away. Include the Historic Walking Tour of Leadville and the visit to the National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum into your activities. There’s something for adrenaline enthusiasts, too. Online maps of area trails from beginner to advanced will help you explore the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
When it comes to lodging and dining, the Victorian-style Delaware Hotel and the 1886 Victorian Inn are a must-do vacation stop in this part of the region. In the hotel, you can take a self-guided tour brimming with the collection of antiques available for purchase. Finally, learn about the history of Victorian tea and choose between Traditional Afternoon Tea, Cowboy Tea and Sweet Tooth Tea at The Delaware Hotel.
Leadville – Aspen (58 miles)
Further south, you will see Mountain Sheridan and Mountain Elbert on the horizon. Between Leadville and Aspen, you will come across another mining town in the heart of the Rockies, Lakes Town. Located at the base of Mountain Elbert, this town offers three trailheads for climbing. Apart from awe-inspiring natural beauty (the Twin Lakes are the largest glacial lakes in Colorado), the town is known for its history during the gold rush. At the end of the 19th century, it was described as “the most charming summer mountain resort in Colorado.”
The final stop is Aspen, situated in the White River National Forest. It boasts world-class ski resorts during winter as well as biking and hiking trails in summer. The vibrant art scene is another thing this town, originally inhabited by the Ute Indians, is famous for. Some of the must-see art destinations are the Aspen Art Museum and the PISMO Fine Art Glass.
This fabulous road trip should definitely be on your bucket list, and renting a free transfer car will make this dream journey not only more comfy, but cheaper, too. The scenery of the Rockies, which is changing every day, will live in the memory for years to come, always reminding you that the road trip you once experienced must be repeated.