The mountains don’t stop calling just because winter weather arrives in Colorado. Tap into a wonderland of scenery by traveling around the snowy state this winter season. Here are six scenic winter drives in Colorado that will take you on an unforgettable journey.
Editor’s Note: Please check weather conditions, current road conditions, and closures before planning your travels. High-elevation sites are often inaccessible due to safety concerns and inclement weather.
1. Pikes Peak Highway
Soak in wintry views and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife (bighorn sheep, deer, elk, mountain lions) as you spiral up the mountain on the Pikes Peak Highway. While it’s a little touristy, there’s plenty of winter beauty to discover along the 19-mile paved road that rises to an elevation of 14,115 feet. It’s also one of the few mountain passes above 14,000 feet in the state that is generally maintained year-round. While some high-altitude sections of the road periodically shut down, it’s also possible to find winter days when the road is open to the summit. Find current conditions on their Twitter account.
2. Loveland Pass
Skip the rows of cars on I-70 and take the scenic route along Loveland Pass for some of the most elevated views in the state. Tapping out at 11,991 feet, this scenic drive is perfect for anyone headed to play in the snow in Summit County. The three major ski resorts accessible via this route include Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge Ski Resort, and Keystone Resort.
3. Monarch Pass
Experience winter wonder along Monarch Pass. The 11,312-foot mountain pass is a slopegoer’s dream. Winding along the Continental Divide, the scenic route offers breathtaking views. Find Monarch mountain along the route on the eastern side of the pass or continue until you hit Gunnison, hanging a right to find Crested Butte.
4. Million Dollar Highway
Talk about views! The Million Dollar Highway is breathtaking at any time of the year. This scenic route stretches for about 25 miles between the mountain towns of Silverton to Ouray along U.S. Highway 550. It’s both incredibly scenic and dangerous. Portions of the highway feature narrow switchbacks, massive drop-offs, and grades as steep as 8%. Be highly aware of road conditions before planning to take this route. It has proven deadly in the past.
Editor’s Note: Don’t let the beautiful views distract you from behind the wheel. Use caution and keep your eyes on the road at all times. The high altitude highway is considered to be extremely treacherous in the winter months due to a number of factors including inclement weather, slick conditions, and frequent avalanches. Always check the road and weather conditions before you go.
5. Hoosier Pass
Roll down the windows, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and brace yourself for a scenic journey along Hoosier Pass. Rising to an elevation of 11,542 feet, this path is a must-take mountain drive laced with plenty of hiking trails and breathtaking views of the Continental Divide. Winter travelers can also take this route to the ski town of Breckenridge for slopeside adventures. It provides great access for those headed to Summit County from Colorado Springs.
6. U.S Highway 50
Travel west from Gunnison for beautiful winter scenery along U.S. Highway 50. The scenic stretch running between Montrose and Gunnison travels through Curecanti National Recreation Areas. It’s also close to one of the main access points for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. If you’re planning on visiting the natural wonder while it’s snowy, it’s important to note that East Portal and North Rim Roads typically close for the winter season, while South Rim Road often remains open. Before you go, always check road conditions and closures with the National Park Service.
Editor’s Note: Never speed. If you’re traveling on slippery or snowy roads, use caution, slow down, and please, take it easy on the brakes. Make sure to keep a safe following distance between your car and one in front of you. Don’t forget to clear ice and snow from your windshield, windows, mirrors, and vehicle lights before driving. Before heading out, visit cotrip.org for the latest road conditions and closures.