Colorado’s Historic and Scenic Byways Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Jan 30, 2014 View Comments by

Colorado’s Historic and Scenic Byways Celebrate 25th AnniversaryThe state of Colorado is home to many spectacular roads, and 25 of these are recognized as scenic or historic byways. In 1989, the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways Program was created to promote these fantastic routes, eleven of which are also designated as America’s Byways. This gives the state more national byways than any other. With this number of byways, there’s a little something for everyone.

The Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway is a great trip for dual sport riders. The 63-mile dirt loop winds its way to the top of southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and provides stunning views of several of the state’s “fourteeners.” From late June to early July the area’s wild flowers are in full bloom making already beautiful scenery even more captivating. Food and lodging can be found in Lake City to the east and Ouray to the west, and camping is always an option.

The San Juan Skyway is a treat for motorcyclists hungry for the curves. With 236 miles of everything from long sweepers to tight, technical turns, the San Juan is a motorcyclist’s dream come true. One particularly twisty section winding between the historic mining towns of Ouray and Silverton is known as the Million Dollar Highway. Nearby towns include Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Dolores, and Cortez.

The Grand Mesa Byway is a great option for those wishing to take in the views at a more relaxed pace. Though there are twisty sections going up to and down from the top of the mesa, the majority of its 63 miles are atop the world’s largest flattop mountain. Feeling adventurous? There’s also an extra 12-mile long dirt road the leads to what is known as “Land’s End,” where the mesa drops off and the view is breathtaking. The Grand Mesa is especially beautiful in the fall as the aspen leaves begin to change. The nearby towns of Grand Junction, Fruita, and Cedaredge offer food and lodging.

These are just three of Colorado’s 25 scenic and historical byways. Before heading out to ride them, though, be sure to check with the Colorado Department of Transportation to find out when certain routes are seasonally closed. Also, it’s a good idea to confirm which byways are paved and which are dirt so you know what you’re in for!

Photography by Cathy Edwards

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