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Colorado's Scenic Byways- 1 of 4: Colorado River Headwaters

the start, at StateBridge along CO Hwy 131
the start, at StateBridge along CO Hwy 131

Colorado has ten scenic routes that are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration's National Scenic Byway Program, which is coming up on its 20th anniversary in 2011, and is host to over 126 scenic routes nation-wide.

To be designated on this national level, local networks must be historic, cultural, natural, archaeological, recreational, or scenic, or all of the above. The theme is to get a little closer to what America has to offer by getting a taste of these six qualities that make up a National Scenic Byway.

They are all unique in their own way, and while most of them are generally accessible, some of the goods and services along the way may not be. In 2007-08 we assessed four of these byways to help create better access and awareness for the business owners along them.

Colorado River Headwaters

This 69-mile stretch from State Bridge, CO to Grand Lake, CO follows the Colorado River along one of the most beautiful sections of Colorado past reservoirs and lush ranchlands, narrow canyons and the railroad. One of our favorites for its views and stops along the way, including the "Sportsman's Paradise" of Kremmling, the glorious hot springs of Hot Sulphur Springs, and Gran Lake, the entrance of Rocky Mountian National Park, Colorado River Headwatersrated highest among the four.

There's not much in rafting communities of Statebridge or Rancho Del Rio, but the camping is accessible, and the cabins at Statebridge are accessible and have ramps and a boardwalk between them.

The signage along the Trough Road from here is viewable from the car, and the camping along here is doable as well. [See slideshow]

Once in Kremmling, after crossing over to Hwy 40, there are several accessible lodging and dining options in this area. Bob's Western Motel and Grandma's House both have one accessible room but no designated parking, and the Cliffside Inn has three ADA rooms and 4 accessible parking spaces as well as the best accessible check-in of all of them. All of the eateries are accessible, but don't miss the excellent pizza at Our Family Kitchen or the best Mexican food in the county at Los Amigos.

The next town you come to along the tour is Parshall, home to the Bar Lazy J Ranch, which has one accessible room with a ramp upon request at this fabulously western bed and breakfast. There's level entry at the dining hall and the fishing is also accessible.

Following Parshall is our favorite Hot Sulphur Springs, home to the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort which has one ADA room with a ramp and accessible bathroom, as well as several other "doable" rooms, but you can also shack up at the Canyon Motel which also has one room. The Resort also has several hot springs pools, two of which are accessible.

Next follows Granby, where there is one ADA room at both the Blue Spruce Motel and the Drowsy Water Ranch, or you can stay at the Inn at Silver Creek which has two accessible rooms as well. All the eateries in Granby are accessible, but there are only accessible restrooms at Pearl Dragon (which also has designated parking) and Remingtons.

Between Granby and Grand Lake lies Arapahoe National Recreation Area, which offers camping, picnic, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Of this area, Arapahoe Bay is least accessible without designated ADA restrooms and a rough path of travel. Willow Creek has 18 accessible camping sites, Stillwater has 9, and Sunset Point is the most accessible of all with 19 sites and a very accessible path of travel and great restrooms.

Grand Lake is the final destination on the Colorado River Headwaters Byway, and offers the most accessible options of all the towns on this route. The Western Riviera and Cabins have four ADA rooms, the Gateway Inn has 3, and the Rapids Lodge, Columbine Cabins, and Sunset Motel all have one.
Also, all eight eateries we assessed in Grand Lake were accessible, but Grand Pizza didn't have accessible restrooms and the Rapids Restaurant has a challenging path of travel. Grand Lake also offers an accessible boardwalk, beach and dock area, and the Point Park and Town Park are also accessible.

Stay tuned for the Flat Tops Trail, the Gold Belt Tour, and Los Caminos Antiguos.


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