Most scenic route from Michigan to Colorado

From Michigan to Colorado, the distance is around 1,390 miles (2230 kilometers), and the total travel time is about 23 hours. In this situation, a minimum of 5 days are ideal for traveling from Michigan to Colorado. You can make the most of your trip by using one of the many scenic byways and routes available. For instance, the collection of 23 state and national byways and tour routes makes it simple to reach Michigan’s attractions. This article includes descriptions of each byway’s scenic, natural, historical, cultural, and archaeological landmarks. It also details the services offered, the time needed to drive and enjoy each byway and tour route, and the ideal times of year to travel.

M-25 Michigan Fall Color Tour
M-25 Michigan Fall Color Tour

Highlights

  • Stagecoach Trail
  • Great River Road
  • South Platte Trail Scenic and Historic Byway
  • Lariat Loop Scenic & Historic Byway
  • Virginia Canyon Road
  • Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
  • Cache LaPoudre-North Park Scenic and Historic Byway
  • Pawnee Pioneer Trails Scenic & Historic Byway
Map of the Most scenic route from Michigan to Colorado

Day 1: Michigan (MI)

Your picturesque drive should begin in Michigan (MI). Michigan has earned its position at the top of the list of vacation destinations thanks to its exceptional natural beauty and numerous historic, scenic, recreational, and cultural locations. The Pure Michigan Byways richly represent the Great Lakes State’s majesty and diversity. Pure Michigan Byways will take you there, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history nerd, or like to take a leisurely drive through the countryside. Keep in mind to visit Black River Harbor. It is one of just two harbors in the National Forest System and a well-liked vacation destination all year round. 

The harbor is at the Black River’s mouth, about 15 miles north of Bessemer, Michigan. The Black River boasts several beautiful waterfalls as it descends to meet Lake Superior while passing through areas with big pine, hemlock, and hardwood trees. In acknowledgment of its extraordinary beauty and recreational opportunities, Highway 513, which follows this part of the Black River, was formally dedicated as a National Forest Scenic Byway on September 19, 1992.

Day 2: Chicago, Illinois

The journey from Michigan to Chicago, Illinois, which is a distance of roughly 260 miles (420 km), takes 4.5 hours. A must-do experience in Chicago includes everything from pelicans soaring above a national wildlife sanctuary to the 291-mile byway along the Illinois River. The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway presents Illinois’ natural beauty with a hefty dose of Americana on the side, running from Ottawa in the north to Havana in the south. Here are seven of our favorite locations—from North to South—to check out along the way, ranging from the historical exploration of the small towns that dot the route to the scenic views. 

Your next stop on the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway is Starved Rock State Park, which has 13 miles of trails that wind through 18 glacier-carved gorges. Whether you take a cautious stroll around Aurora Canyon or attempt the strenuous Lover’s Leap, this park is stunning and a must-see for its breathtaking splendor. Therefore, charge your phone and get ready to take many natural landscape photos of Illinois in all her glory without any filters.

Day 3: Des Moines

The third rest stop is in Des Moines, Iowa, after traveling 330 miles (540 km) in 5.5 hours. At this point, you would have traveled 960 km (600 miles) in three days. There is a lot to see and do during the quick drive between Chicago and Des Moines if you’re looking for a simple road vacation. Chicago is only a short day’s journey from Des Moines, Iowa, and some lovely recreational places are along the route. Travelers can take the beautiful byway from Chicago to a location just north of Des Moines, Iowa, in less than eight hours. 

Since there are so many open areas to stop and explore with four-legged companions, this journey is even more enjoyable if you bring your dog along. The Iowa-Illinois Scenic Byway is accessible by car. For this section of the Lincoln Highway, motorists must leave Chicago on I-88 in the direction of the west and exit at Geneva. They will start traveling the Lincoln Highway at this point. They must then take IL-31 to US 30. Except for a brief detour in Fulton, Illinois, the Lincoln Highway follows US 30 across Iowa, passing by these cities.

Day 4: Denver, Colorado

After traveling for 9.5 hours around 670 miles (1080 kilometers) you reach Denver. However, it would take approximately 4 hours and 50 minutes to travel 336 miles from Denver to the halfway point between Des Moines and Denver. As a result, Kearney is the most fabulous place to rest and find meals (Nebraska). Please don’t skip the Lariat Loop while you’re in Denver; it’s only 30 minutes away. The foothills around Denver are full of gems, many of which are along this path, even though places further west receive much attention. 

This 40-mile loop will take you through Golden, Morrison, Kittredge, and Evergreen and may easily be ideal as a day excursion. You should definitely see Red Rocks along the way, look out over the Front Range from Lookout Mountain, and get up close and personal with fossils at Dinosaur Ridge. Along the road, there are a ton of hiking trails that you can take advantage of. For a short but pleasant respite from the car, visit the Panorama Point Trail in Corwina Park, close to Kittredge. When you reach the top of the 2.4-mile round trek, which takes approximately an hour, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking mountain vistas.

Day 5: Colorado, CO

You finally arrive in Colorado after traveling for roughly 3.5 hours and 120 kilometers. Your journey will cover approximately 1,390 miles (2230 km), taking five days to complete. The Garden of the Gods and the Rocky Mountain National Park are two picturesque Colorado spots worth visiting. Rocky Mountain National Park, created in 1915, is one of Colorado’s top attractions and has become one of the nation’s most visited national parks. 

The highest paved road in Colorado is Trail Ridge Road, which runs through the park from Grand Lake to Estes Park. Know that this road is open roughly from Memorial Day until the fall snow flies. Although there are several places to camp inside the park, Estes Park is the most delicate area to stay and establish your “home base” while you’re there. One of the attractions in the park is the abundance of wildlife, which includes Elk, Moose, Deer, Black bears, and other animals. 

In the fall, you may observe (and hear) elk all across the park without ever getting out of your car, located about 80 miles north of Denver in the north and central Colorado. Garden of the Gods, another Colorado Springs location, is a recognized National Natural Landmark. There are numerous 300-foot-tall sandstone rock formations. View the “Balancing Rock” and “Kissing Camels” buildings. This location is unique, and the most frequented in southern Colorado, yet it’s also very accessible.

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