Top Ten Scenic Mountain Drives
For stellar roof-of-the-Rockies views, hit Trail Ridge Road, America's highest continuous highway. Traversing Rocky Mountain National Park from east to west, the route rises some 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes, passing from montane forests of aspen and ponderosa pine to thick subalpine forests of fir and spruce. At timberline, the last stunted, wind-battered trees yield to the alpine tundra.
After winding its way between glacier-sculpted peaks for 50 miles, the road drops into the Kawuneeche Valley, where the north fork of the Colorado River flows. Trail Ridge Road travels for 11 miles above 11,000 feet and for four miles above 12,000 feet. The road's highest point—a lung-busting 12,183 feet above sea level—occurs between Lava Cliffs and Gore Range.
As you drive skyward, be sure take in the views at Rainbow Curve, Many Parks Curve, and at Forest Canyon Overlook. The vistas sweep north to Wyoming, east across the Front Range cities and Great Plains, and south and west into the heart of the mountains.
Just the Facts
Route: Estes Park to Granby on U.S. 34 through Rocky Mountain National Park.
Length: 55 miles (one-half to one day)
Season: Memorial Day to mid-October.
Note: Admission fee to park.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication