Identified in 1918, the Peak to Peak is known to be Colorado’s oldest scenic byway. Spanning a total of 59 miles, it passes through Gilpin, Boulder and Larimer Counties, and would approximately take at least 2 to 3 hours to complete.
Every turn is a lovely presentation of some of Colorado’s best natural wonders, such as the Arapaho National Forest, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and the Rocky Mountain National Park. The total drive is 55 miles and takes around an hour and a half.
Driving the Peak to Peak Byway
Depending on your origin, the trip can start either from Estes Park or the twin towns of Central City and Black Hawk, passing through two major towns Allenspark and Nederland, and the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. Allenspark is where Chapel on the Rock and St. Catherine of Siena Chapel sit.
Nederland, on the other hand, is a quaint town where stops can be made, as restaurants, unique shops and lodging are all found here. You can also catch seasonal festivals in Nederland if you are lucky.
The Peak to Peak scenic byway is open year round, but many find it most alluring during fall. Aspen trees grow in abundance along the Continental Divide, and during fall it becomes a spectacle to behold as speckles of gold, yellow, orange and brown fill the scenery. Fall is also known as the elk mating season, so might as well spend a day or two in Estes Park for the Elk Fest.
Recreation on Peak to Peak Byway
Tours around gold mines in the ghost towns of Apex and Nevadaville, along Highways 72 and 119 in Central City, is a popular point of interest in this scenic byway. For a price, hopefuls can also try gold panning in the creek nearby some few old mines. Kids find this particular treasure hunting activity fun whether they find gold or not. After all, Central City used to be the richest square mile on earth back in the old days.
As it is open year round, many activities can be enjoyed along this scenic byway. During non-winter months, one can go hiking, river rafting, horseback riding, biking, fishing, hunting, bird watching and camping. The nearby Eldora Mountain Resort in Nederland is a great winter destination to do some powder skiing. Lastly, let us also not forget to check the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, where a popular mini-horror series was filmed.
Season: Year round
Length: 55 miles
Map: Peak to Peak Byway (png)