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Rocky Mountain drives open for the summer in Colorado

Just above Medicine Bow Curve on Trail Ridge Road
Just above Medicine Bow Curve on Trail Ridge Road
photo courtesy of Mary Glass and Josh Bourassa

Drives in the high country can be spectacular this time of year in Colorado as the seasons seems to change with altitude. Mountain valleys are coming into their full spring greens and sit in warm contrast to the purple peaks looming above still snowcapped and clinging to winter. Luckily, this the first weekend in June, there are many spectacular mountain roads now open including these three classic Colorado Rocky Mountain drives.

Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road Photo by Mary Glass

Trail Ridge Road

For over 75 years auto excursionists have been touring Rocky Mountain National Park from Estes Park to Grand Lake on Trail Ridge Road, one of America’s highest and most spectacular drives. With vistas and overlooks on every other hairpin curve you’re sure to fill your camera with photos you’ll always remember but never use again.

Additionally Denverites coming up to Rocky Mountain National Park through Estes Park will pass through the area which was affected by the 2013 floods. Though cleanup efforts are ongoing one drive through reinforces the obvious and continued need for help to rebuild this area.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Mount Evans Scenic Byway Photo by Mary Glass

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

The easiest fourteener in Colorado is open to the auto tourist as of Memorial Day 2014. It’s a short hour and a half drive from Denver to Mt. Evans just outside Idaho Springs, and an easy quarter mile hike from the Mount Evans Scenic Byway parking lot to the 14,264″ summit. I’m not opposed to starting the summer hiking season with and easy, guaranteed win.

Independence Pass
Independence Pass Photo courtesy of wikimedia

Independence Pass

Topping out at 12,095 over the Continental Divide, Independence Pass is Colorado’s highest paved road. Structures from the area’s early mining days still dot hill sides along the drive and Independence, Colorado the ghost town is just west of the pass and worth a visit.