Katharine Lee Bates got it right in 1893 with “America the Beautiful.” And, lucky for us, we get to live in Colorado -- the place of her inspiration.
I’ve done a little more driving around the state this summer than in the past few years. My observation is that maybe Colorado is just an altogether scenic place and our roads happen to go through the best of the best of that scenery. So, I thought I’d mention some ideas for filling out that upcoming Labor Day three-day weekend. No sense sitting home and manicuring the lawn. After all, summer is officially over and it’s likely back to school!
We have 25 Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways, 11 of which are designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as America’s Byways®. That means Colorado has more national designations than any other state. Impressive, huh?
Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways can be found from Colorado’s northeastern plains to the high peaks of the southwest according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. How many have you visited?
- South Platte River Trail
- Pawnee Pioneer Trails
- Cache la Poudre - North Park
- Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park
- Colorado River Headwaters
- Peak To Peak
- Lariat Loop
- Mount Evans
- Guanella Pass
- Santa Fe Trail
- Highway of Legends
- Frontier Pathways
- Gold Belt Tour
- Top of the Rockies
- Collegiate Peaks
- Los Caminos Antiguos
- Flat Tops Trail
- Dinosaur Diamond
- Grand Mesa
- West Elk Loop
- Unaweep Tabeguache
- Silver Thread
- Alpine Loop
- San Juan Skyway
- Trail of The Ancients
So far this year I’ve been on parts of the Cache La Poudre-North Park, Trail Ridge Road, Peak-to-Peak, Top of the Rockies, Gold Belt Tour, Frontier Pathways, Dinosaur Diamond, West Elk Loop, and the San Juan Skyway.
Depending on where you live in the state, you ought to be able to get on at least one of these scenic roads this Labor Day weekend.
Now, I’m not proposing that you frustrate yourself with traffic jams or an overheated car. Some of these roads may lend themselves to less traffic frazzle. Consider starting that weekend a day early or add a day on the back end to avoid the congestion. Northeastern Colorado maybe a good bet for less hassle. In addition to the beautiful grassland vistas and magnificent sunsets, there’s a lot of pioneer history along the South Platte River Trail and the Pawnee Pioneer Trails.
One of my most favorite spots is along the Cache la Poudre - North Park scenic byway just west of Cameron Pass along Colorado Highway 14. The Nokhu Crags just outside of the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park are stunning!
Avoiding the interstates and major corridors like US Highway 50 or 285 may be your ticket to really de-stressing yourself.
Oh, speaking about “the ticket,” remember that holiday weekends are prime opportunities for picking up a very unwanted ticket from the Colorado State Patrol or a county Deputy Sheriff for an illegal pass or speeding. None of us want to increase the cost of our trip by increasing our auto insurance rates.
Here are a few tips for having an enjoyable holiday weekend:
- Leave early, if possible, on both ends of the trip.
- Do a little research beforehand, so you can keep those young passengers engaged.
- Choose off peak hours to drive.
- Make plenty of stops along the way to see the sights and learn about the area.
- Avoid the bottlenecks and known construction trouble spots.
- Be rested before driving.
- Avoid excessive sunburn pack the sunscreen – it can prevent a very unpleasant ride.
Nevertheless, get outta town. Pick a town along the scenic route, spend a night or two and learn what the area is all about.
Where do you plan on heading this Labor Day weekend?