The drive from Colorado Springs to Durango is one of the best scenic drives you can experience. Pikes Peak, Royal Gorge, and the San Juan Skyway are a few of the amazing sights you’ll see on this road trip. The driving distance from Colorado Springs to Durango is 315 miles / 507 km.
The distance above does not include unplanned detours. So, if you’re planning a long road trip, account for traffic, road conditions, rest stops, and intriguing detours. Now, let’s dive into the scenic drive. It will take days if you follow it turn by turn. You are welcome to make changes to suit your time. It is a much quicker trip if you have more than one driver.
Day 1 Colorado Springs
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Colorado Springs is a city in Colorado near the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, at an elevation of 6,035 feet. It’s close to the 14,114-foot peak of Pikes Peak, a landmark in Pike National Forest with hiking paths and a cog railway. The town’s Garden of the Gods Park is known for its unique red sandstone structures and mountain views. Colorado Springs is so famous, and why you should visit it as an athlete is because it has incredible natural training grounds and altitude. Athletes appreciate exercising while overlooking the majestic Rocky Mountains.
Colorado Springs rarely gets much snow when it comes to weather, and when it does, it usually melts within a day or two. The local trails are generally free of snow from mid-April to mid-November, but there are days in the upper 50s, even in January. In Colorado Springs, the hottest month is July, with average highs of 84°F and lows of 58°F. From November 20 to March 4, the cold season lasts 3.5 months, with average daily high temperatures below 51°F.
The Gold Belt Tour
You can also enjoy an unforgettable panoramic drive along the Gold Belt Tour scenic byway. To cover 34 miles, you’ll need about 44 minutes of driving time. The Gold Belt Tour is a National Scenic Byway and a Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway. Retrace the historic travel routes linking Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District, the world’s most enormous gold rush site, to Florence , Canon City, and Florissant on the Gold Belt Tour.
Today, the Gold Belt Tour villages welcome you to explore the rich local legacy by following the “Roads to Riches.” The Gold Belt Tour is a one-hour drive from Colorado Springs in southern Colorado. U.S. Highway 24 leads to the northern end of the Byway, while U.S. Highway 50 leads to the southern end. The scenery on each road is different, ranging from beautiful mountain parklands to deep rocky canyons. Each community has its personality and convenient amenities, such as restaurants, housing, retail, entertainment, and events.
Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway
In Colorado, the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway is known as “the Avenue of Fourteeners.” The Collegiate Peaks climb above 14,000 feet along its entire length and feature summits such as Mount Princeton, Mount Yale, and Mount Harvard. The Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway run through the heart of Colorado, where prairies scoop up from the Arkansas River’s famous whitewater canyons to magnificent 14,000-foot peaks. The Continental Divide, where the Rockies become real, is reached through this 57-mile Byway.
The Upper Arkansas Valley is known for its whitewater rafting, trout fishing, wildlife, bird-watching, and the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the United States. You’ll find fourteener peaks, wildflowers, golden aspen, 300 days of sunshine, and rich history. Hiking and riding on pine-scented routes attract people of all skill and fitness levels. And the light powder snow is ideal for winter sports. Snow-capped. You’ll need 1 hour and 24 minutes to drive 78 miles to San Juan Montrose for the second day’s travel.
Day 2 San Juan Skyway
Undergrounded on the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains, Durango was ideal for railroad interests. You can find the National Forest Scenic Byway and the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway in the Colorado counties of Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan, and San Miguel.
Don’t miss the picturesque San Juan Skyway, a 232-mile loop of paved, state-maintained roadways that winds its way through the San Juan Mountains. The San Juan Skyway is a National Forest Scenic Byway, a Colorado Scenic & Historic Byway, and an All-American Road. The San Juan Skyway Scenic and Historic Byway are 236-mile All-American Highway that takes around seven hours to complete.
The San Juans are Colorado’s most extensive and rugged mountain range, with thirteen peaks rising beyond 14,000 feet. The San Juan Skyway crosses four mountain passes through the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests, providing views of various climate zones. The temperature may vary by up to fifteen degrees among valleys and mountaintops during the journey, as will the vegetation and animals at multiple heights.
The Alpine Loop Scenic and Historic Byway in Colorado provides a small window of snow-free travel (June to September). Alpine Loop is a circular path that travels via the San Juan Mountains’ high-elevation Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass. It runs between Silverton and Ouray and Lake City communities, where it begins and ends. The 65-mile picturesque route around Ouray, Lake City, and Silverton passes through a bizarre environment of treeless tundra and mountains painted red and yellow.
It’s worth noting that the entire trip is four-wheel-drive terrain, so if you’re driving the family sedan, you might want to consider upgrading to a higher clearance vehicle before taking on this spectacular journey. You can find fascinating locations along the route, such as ghost towns such as Animas Forks and Capitol City, mining camps, and structures that are mostly (if not all) over a century old.
Each town has its recreation offerings for activities near Alpine Loop. Many people consider Silverton a premier winter destination, with excellent skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling. During the summer, it becomes a popular site for ATV/OHV riding, fishing, hiking, camping, and horseback riding, among other activities. Ouray has a rich history, beautiful mountain peaks, and divine hot springs. On the other hand, Lake City has a vibrant nightlife, theater performances, historical excursions, shopping districts to enjoy, and its natural beauty.
Day 3 Durango
After all, no trip to Durango is complete without a magnificent ride on the San Juan Skyway! This 235-mile loop passes through historical mining communities, breathtaking landscape, and thrilling twists and turns. As mentioned earlier on day 2, this circle of state-maintained routes through the San Juan Mountains can be explored in your car and at your leisure, but note that some sections of this lovely, picturesque trip do include steep drop-offs without guardrails.
Taking a drive is all about the thrill of easy exploration. These picturesque backroads run above and beyond Durango’s magnificent scenery. Eyewitnesses can stay seated or get out and investigate the scenery, rivers, and monuments for themselves as they travel along any of these roads. Because of the clean, dry environment and dispersed fluffy clouds, you may experience some of the most incredible sunsets in the Southwest. The surrounding countryside of Durango is suitable for outdoor activities. You should be able to get on a path or cast out right from your front door in an area that screams “FREEDOM.”
Durango has all four seasons, with year-round temperatures ranging from 90° highs to single-digit lows. It’s also not uncommon to see all four seasons in one day, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s being readily interrupted by sleet, hail, and lightning storms. The mountains are to blame!
You’ll need to use your resources and time to see significant scenic byways like Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway, Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway, San Juan Skyway, and Colorado’s Alpine Loop. As a result, it’s critical to remember several stops from Colorado Springs to Durango. Remember to keep moving with the proper care, attire, and general punctuality.