Scenic overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road
Scenic overlook

Scenic Drives at Rocky Mountain National Park

Each year, millions of visitors flock to Rocky Mountain National Park to take in the breathtaking mountain scenery and to enjoy the great outdoors. One of the most remarkable experiences the park has to offer are scenic drives through the mountains, including drives along the legendary Trail Ridge Road. Here are some of the best scenic drives in Rocky Mountain National Park that you won’t want to miss.

Trail Ridge Road

Often described as a “highway to the sky,” Trail Ridge Road is an awe-inspiring 48-mile road that soars alongside the mountain peaks. The road opens around Memorial Day weekend and closes for the winter in October. Visitors from Granby can access Trail Ridge Road via the Grand Lake entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, which is a 20-minute drive from Granby. Within minutes, travelers ascend through aspen and pine trees that then quickly yield to forests of fir and spruce. The road continues to weave and climb through the mountains, achieving altitudes of 12,000 feet. Here, visitors find themselves in a magical alpine tundra surrounded by snow-capped mountains, where tiny plants and wildflowers thrive. The drive takes about two hours, though you might want more time to take in all the sights.

Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway

Visitors who enter Rocky Mountain National Park through the Grand Lake entrance also have the opportunity to explore the headwaters of the Colorado River. In Grand Lake, you can pick up the Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway, which takes you alongside the winding river, through mountain valleys, and past lakes and canyons. As you drive, keep a lookout for moose and other wildlife that call the banks of the Colorado River home. The byway stretches over 80 miles from Grand Lake to Gore Canyon, and takes about 90 minutes to drive. However, to really enjoy all the amazing sights the byway has to offer, you’ll want to spend at least three hours on this scenic roadway.

Bear Lake Road

If you have time for a longer trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, you can take a drive to beautiful Bear Lake, with its stunning mountain views. The road begins near the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, which is in Estes Park, Colorado. If you’re coming from Granby, it will take about three hours to get to Estes Park, but in the warmer months, you can also take Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park. Taking Trail Ridge Road will shave about an hour off the trip and will give you a chance to explore this legendary highway. Bear Lake Road also offers plenty of amazing views as it rises to an altitude of 9,491 feet where the alpine lake is located.

If you’d like to take some scenic drives in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are many amazing routes you can explore, each one offering an abundance of mountain views, wildlife, and pristine lakes that never fail to enchant visitors.