Most scenic route from Denver to Breckenridge

Breckenridge, Colorado, located at 9,600 feet in elevation, is one of Colorado’s most well-known former Gold Rush mining communities. One of the best concepts of this ski resort basecamp is its proximity to Colorado’s Front Range since the drive from Denver to Breckenridge takes approximately an hour and a half to two hours, depending on weather and traffic. This drive up Interstate 70 on the Eastern Slope of the Rockies is also wonderfully gorgeous, with plenty of opportunities for brief pauses for sightseeing and exploring—some of which are conveniently placed right along the roadway.

The first step in arranging your Denver to Breckenridge road trip is to decide on a significant route. The simplest option for the least amount of time spent on the road is to take I-70 West out of Denver, which is the only major highway you need to follow on this route until exiting Highway 9, just 10 to 15 minutes before arriving in Breckenridge.

If you want to make it a more extended day of driving and spend more time sightseeing, you might take the scenic route from Denver to Breckenridge on US 285 South. In this scenario, you would exit Highway 9 in Fairplay and travel up and over the 11,542-foot-high Hoosier Pass before arriving in Breckenridge from the south. In this post, we’ve gathered a list of the gorgeous drives you’ll pass through on your way from Denver to Breckenridge. 

Highlights

  • Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway
  • Mount Evans Scenic Byway
  • Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

Denver, CO to Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway

Begin your journey in Denver and proceed to the Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway. The Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway run from Golden, in the foothills of the Rockies, past the friendly historic communities of Evergreen and Morrison. Enjoy breathtaking mountain vistas, as well as plenty of possibilities for outdoor activity and downtime. This 40-mile drive from downtown Denver takes only 20 minutes, making it an ideal day vacation or weekend retreat.

The Colorado Railroad Museum is a must-see for train and history enthusiasts. You can see more than 100 narrow, standard gauge steam and diesel trains annually, and the Depot Museum has an extensive collection of antiquities. At the Robert W. Richardson Railroad Library, you may see a working roundhouse, train restorations, and learn more about railroad history. Take a train trip, or participate in renowned activities like the famed Day Out with Thomas, Ride the Rails or Polar Express in the winter.

You can find the MillerCoors Brewery along the way. The MillerCoors Brewery in Golden is the world’s largest single-site brewery. A free one-hour tour will teach you about the malting, brewing, and packaging processes and after that, peruse the memorabilia collection. Visitors over the age of 21 can sample cold, fresh beer, while those of all ages can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages.

Another must-see is the Foothills Art Center, housed in a Gothic-style church on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a beautiful venue for local, national, and international artists in rotating shows.

Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway to Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Also on this route is Mount Evans Scenic Byway. And this is the drive for you if you prefer your roads squiggly and cliff-hugging with spectacular vistas of mountains, alpine meadows and lakes, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. The highest paved road in North America reaches more than 7,000 feet in just 27 miles, with breathtaking views around every bend. Furthermore, there is no easier way to summit a 14er. And this is a beautiful day excursion that is less than an hour from Denver.

The byway begins on CO-103, traveling south, following Chicago Creek before ascending a series of hairpin curves. Echo Lake Park is 10,600 feet above sea level. The lake is a known spot for fishing or simply relaxing, picnicking, and walking the short trail around the lake, and the weather can suddenly change here, so dress in layers and be ready for wind, rain, lightning, snow, and hail. 

There are tent and RV campsites; book ahead of time or try your luck on a first-come, first-served basis. Echo Lake Lodge, which opened in 1926, now features a gift shop and restaurant. There is no longer any available lodging. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the park is open.

To continue the final 14 miles of the byway to Mount Evans, you must pay a toll valid for three days. The views from the top paved road in North America are breathtaking! The byway was extended east on Clear Creek County Road 103 across Squaw Pass to Bergen Park. Discover various picnic-worthy vistas and hiking and mountain bike routes along the way. Services are available in Bergen Park, and the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway are nearby.

Mount Evans Summit, at 14,130 feet, will truly take your breath away. Take it to slow up here if you haven’t had time to adjust to the high-altitude air. Take the breathtaking vistas and take the short trek to the summit’s 14,264-foot peak. The most straightforward 14er hike! The Mount Evans Crest House is now in ruins, destroyed by fire in 1979. One can appreciate the environmentally conscious design and envisage the structure as it was in 1940-1941.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway to Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

Continue on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway to the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway. The road, formerly a historic wagon route connecting the mining settlements of Georgetown and Grant, now runs like a ribbon, with sinuous roadways and a succession of exciting hairpin twists. Enjoy breathtaking mountain and valley vistas as you go from forested lowlands to a fragile tundra landscape above the timberline. 

Along the way, several recreational activities include hikes for all abilities, bicycling, fly fishing, rafting, and camping. Prepare for the weather because higher elevations might be significantly more relaxed and windier. In the winter, the route may get blocked due to inclement weather.

Clear Lake is a great place to go trout fishing. Like many others along the route, Clear Lake Campground is first-come, first-served, with only a handful of sites and rudimentary amenities. The breathtaking vistas make it all worthwhile.

The route zigzags up almost 3,000 feet before reaching the Guanella Pass Summit Area. Stop here for postcard-worthy photos of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt, picnicking, and hiking at 11,668 feet. The hillsides are dotted with wildflowers, showing a delicate alpine tundra environment. To protect the fragile vegetation, please keep on the trail. 

Three trails depart from here: the 4.3-mile round trip South Park/Square Top Lakes Track, the 14-mile Rosalie Trail (no need to walk the entire trail), and the Mount Bierstadt Trail. Mount Bierstadt rises 14,060 feet over the surrounding landscape. The first mile is accessible for all abilities, and you will get rewarded with breathtaking vistas in all directions.

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway to Breckenridge, CO

You will undoubtedly enjoy Breckenridge. It’s hectic in the winter when people come from all over the country to visit the mountains. Breckenridge is a peaceful and lovely municipality that is well-known as a tourist attraction. Locals refer to the town as “Breck,” and it is home to Colorado’s most significant historic district and other historic structures and buildings. Many visitors come to the city for the world-class skiing at Breckenridge Ski Resort, while others browse at the quaint, historical stores that line Main Street. Have a great time!

FAQs

Transportation from Denver to Breckenridge

Traveling from Denver to Breckenridge can be done by car, bus, or train. The most popular method is by car since it gives visitors the most freedom to explore the scenic byways and attractions along the route.

Bus to Breckenridge from Denver

The bus is the least expensive way to get from Denver to Breckenridge, but it is also the slowest. The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours and requires several stops.

What is the best time of year to travel?

The best time of year to travel from Denver to Breckenridge varies depending on what you want to do. If you’re looking to ski or snowboard, the winter months are the best time to go. However, if you’re looking to enjoy scenic byways and hiking trails, the spring and summer months are generally the best time to travel.

Driving from Denver to Breckenridge

The drive from Denver to Breckenridge takes about 1.5 hours if you take Interstate 70 West. However, the scenic route via the Mount Evans Scenic Byway (Colorado Highway 5) takes about 2.5 hours.

Drive from Denver airport to Breckenridge

Driving from Denver International Airport to Breckenridge is a pretty straightforward trip. It takes about 2 hours to drive the 95 miles from the airport to Breckenridge.

Is the drive from Denver to Breckenridge scary?

No, the drive from Denver to Breckenridge is not scary. However, some sections of the road are steep and winding. If you’re not comfortable driving in these conditions, plenty of bus and train options can get you to Breckenridge.

Driving from Denver to Breckenridge at night

When driving from Denver to Breckenridge at night, take extra precautions. Ensure your headlights are in good working order, and watch for animals on the road.

Driving to Breckenridge in winter

When driving from Denver to Breckenridge in winter, check the weather conditions. I-70 is often closed due to snowstorms, so it’s important to be prepared. The best way to check road conditions is by visiting the Colorado Department of Transportation website.

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