Denver is the beautiful capital of Colorado and is surrounded by some magnificent scenery. Many travelers enjoy taking a scenic drive to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.
You can bask in the breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and lush green meadows as you drive along I-70 past evergreen forests, then take in all that downtown Denver has to offer with its thriving music scene and galleries. If you want a truly unique experience, take Pikes Peak Highway out of town for an unforgettable view, complete with wildflower blooms in mid-summer and possible sightings of elk and bison!
Overview of Scenic Drive In Denver
Enjoy the beauty of Denver’s spectacular mountain backdrop with a scenic drive in the region. There are several routes to experience, including the picturesque Guanella Pass road and the winding Mount Evans Byway.
With an elevation above 10,000 feet, Mount Evans Byway features one of the highest paved roads in North America and breathtaking views of alpine lakes, rocky cliffs, beautiful meadows and wildflowers. Lovely Castle Rock is visible at every turn along this classic stretch of Colorado road.
Popular Scenic Drive In Denver
Denver is known for its beautiful scenic sights, so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular activities for locals and visitors alike is to take a scenic drive. From the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the golden flatlands in Weld and Arapahoe Counties, there are plenty of spectacular view points available.
If you’re headed out of town, look into Red Rocks and Poudre Canyon for breathtaking scenes along winding roads. If staying closer to Denver proper is more your speed, there’s Mt. Evans and Flagstaff Mountain that provide postcard vistas of the city skyline as well as surrounding peaks and valleys.
1. Litchfield Hills Road Trip
The Litchfield Hills Road Trip in Denver is an unforgettable scenic drive. During this 53-mile journey, you’ll be surrounded by lush forests and sprawling mountain ranges, as the road takes you up to towering heights of 9800ft.
Along the way, travelers have the chance to stop at countless lookout points for breathtaking panoramas of Denver and beyond. While your spirit soars with majestic views, marvel at the cascading waterfalls and unspoiled rivers that make this route so beautiful.
Trekking trails can also be found among the scenery, with plenty of hiking activities available for those wanting to explore a little deeper. With its collection of historical sites and breath-taking landscapes, a trip on this glorious road will give you memories to last a lifetime.
2. Connecticut River Valley Drive
The Connecticut River Valley Drive offers stunning views, winding roads, and tons of excitement! Starting in the charming town of Granby, the drive takes travelers on a 130-mile journey through small towns, deep forests, and quaint valleys.
As you make your way along this scenic route, you’ll be presented with astounding panoramic views of the river valley from high atop an old mountain range. You can expect to find several hiking trails at various spots throughout the course of your trip, as well.
From Granby to the Massachusetts border, travelers will find themselves completely captivated by nature’s beauty. Along the way, you may even spot some wildlife such as turtles, deer or even black bears.
3. The Shoreline Drive
The Shoreline Drive in Denver is a beautiful and scenic way to spend the afternoon. Starting downtown at City Park, the 16-mile drive traces the city’s entire eastern border. Along the way, travelers will be treated to breathtaking views of the Front Range Mountains and impressive landmarks like Mile High Stadium and Coors Field.
It’s an especially attractive spot for nature lovers; dozens of parks are included along the route, from Washington Park and the Denver Botanic Gardens to Congress Park and the Observatory.
The surrounding neighborhoods offer plenty of opportunities for exploring as well, with plenty of cafes, boutiques, galleries, monuments, and other attractions scattered throughout. As if that wasn’t enough beauty already, Street Art on Wheels brings vibrant murals to life in different areas on select days!
4. The Farmington Valley Drive
If you’ve ever wanted to experience Denver in a whole new light, you should consider taking the Farmington Valley Drive. This stunning 65-mile drive through the northern suburbs of Denver will guarantee you breathtaking mountain views and amazing outdoor experiences.
Along the Farmington Valley Drive, you will encounter majestic snow peaks and have access to some of the most beautiful recreational areas in America. Just outside Denver, this scenic tour takes travelers past iconic destinations such as Chatfield State Park, the Front Range Mountains, Red Rocks Park and the Amphitheater, among many others.
5. The Housatonic River Drive
Take a leisurely drive along the Housatonic River in Denver and experience nature’s beauty at its best. The drive offers scenic views of the gorgeous landscapes, rolling hills and lush foliage that lie alongside the river. From State Forest to Kent, this peaceful drive offers a relaxing journey into history as it curves its way past panoramic scenes of rocky cliffs to charming villages with weathered stone bridges, old churches and century-old mills.
Along the way, visitors can stop off at various historic sites, including a Victorian mansion or take a quick break at one of the many pubs or cafes dotting the route. As an added bonus, there are plenty of opportunities for fishing, canoeing and hiking along the Housatonic River Drive too.
6. The Berkshires of Connecticut
The Berkshires of Connecticut is a picturesque road trip away from Denver that offers gorgeous views and plenty of attractions along the way. Start out by visiting Colt State Park, home to 464 acres of meadows and woodlands with mesmerizing shoreline views of Narragansett Bay.
Pay a visit to Mount Hope Farm in Bristol, which was an 18th century mill village and dairy farm now open as a public museum. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, with its 4000 acres of meadows, wetlands, forests and trails.
While winding through the hills of northwest Connecticut take a break at Moodus Reservior Park in East Haddam, where there’s plenty of space to picnic or even camp overnight if you’d like. And finally make sure to explore the house architecture and serene campus at Wesleyan University – also located in Middletown.
7. The Mystic River Valley Drive
The Mystic River Valley Drive in Denver is an area of natural beauty. Located just west of the city, this drive takes you past rolling hills and lush meadows as you make your way through some of the most scenic roadways in the state. Here, visitors can take in gorgeous views of animal habitats and explore old-growth forests that are bursting with wildlife.
This serene and peaceful setting is perfect for a therapeutic drive to enjoy some well-deserved peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are plenty of stops along the way, including an expansive reservoir for fishing and camping, overgrown trails for hiking or biking, and roadside caves to explore.
8. The Thames River Heritage Park Drive
Denver is full of beautiful sights, and the Thames River Heritage Park Drive is no exception. This peaceful nine-mile stretch extends from Deleware County all the way to Jefferson, offering breathtaking views of New York’s Hudson Valley.
Among the highlights on this drive are picturesque farms, antique bridges and lush forests. Those who make the journey will also pass by some of the oldest and most historic churches in America.
Wildlife abounds along this route including deer, otters, hawks and more. One truly unique experience can be found at Lyman Falls, where visitors can catch a glimpse of freshwater turtles making their way up to sun themselves on the rocks.
9. The Naugatuck River Valley Greenway
The Naugatuck River Valley Greenway in Denver boasts some of the most extraordinary scenery and outdoor activities to be found in the state. This 22-mile drive meanders through woodlands, farms, and historic sites, offering visitors a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike will appreciate the incredible views on offer as they enjoy their excursion along the winding pathways. Bird watching is also popular along this route, with several different species of birds sighted amongst the lush river valley.
Winter brings a whole new perspective to the greenway for those brave enough to endure its chilly temperatures; pristine snow blankets the natural wonders along its path, creating an enchanting winter wonderland that must be seen to be believed.
10. The Connecticut Wine Trail
The Connecticut Wine Trail is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Denver. From breathtaking overlooks and lush vineyards to quaint wineries, it’s a great way to escape reality and immerse yourself in nature.
Along this route, you’ll be able to taste some of the area’s finest varietals, as well as delight in amazing sunsets, rolling hills, and stories about the region’s history. As you wind through picturesque towns surrounded by mountain views, it’s hard not to feel inspired by the beauty that comes with each stop along this scenic drive. Even if you don’t consider yourself a wine connoisseur, it’s worth a trip just for its stunning sights that will create wonderful memories and give you something special to enjoy along your journey.
IV. Tips for Enjoying the Drive
To make the most out of your scenic drive, start early in the morning. The sun will rise over the Rocky Mountains, giving you stunning views and providing some much-needed light on your journey. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks and drinks – driving through some of Denver’s neighborhoods may take a while, so you’ll need sustenance during your trip.
A. Best Time to Visit
Most people prefer to take a scenic drive during the autumn months, when the trees are adorned with reds and oranges, but springtime offers its own unique beauty: rolling green hills, blooming flowers, and clearer skies.
For those looking for winter scenery, an early morning sunrise can be a magical experience as the light shimmers on patchwork snowdrifts. Every season has its own rewards for taking a scenic drive around Denver.
B. Preparing for the Drive
Taking a few simple steps ahead of time can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. First, research the route so you know where you’re going and how long it will take to get there.
Check whether the route contains dirt roads or other challenging terrain that may require special vehicles. Additionally, make sure the vehicle is regularly inspected and properly maintained with the appropriate type of tires for the roads you’ll be traveling on.
C. Must-Have Supplies
Exploring all the beauty Denver has to offer on a long scenic drive doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the right supplies, you can make the most of your experience – and create some amazing memories.
Bring plenty of food and water so you can stay energized throughout your journey, and don’t forget snacks! A cooler might be helpful if you plan on eating lunch while adventuring around the landscape.
Being adequately protected is essential, so sunscreen and hats are a must-have. And although it may be an obvious reminder, sunglasses help avoid squinting while enjoying views of snow-capped mountain peaks and gorgeous lakes. Additionally, bring a jacket or coat in case the temperature drops unexpectedly and you need something to keep warm.
D. Road Conditions
Exploring the beautiful roads of Denver should be done with the utmost caution. Due to the terrain, roads in Denver can have sharp curves and quick elevation changes that can make motoring difficult, especially for those unfamiliar with the area.
Additionally, due to heavily trafficked areas around the city, traffic jams may cause headaches for drivers during busy times. Extreme weather conditions like snow , icy patches and rain can also create traction issues. It is important for drivers to reduce speed when road conditions become perilous and to drive safely wherever possible.
Denver is an incredibly scenic city, and a drive through its winding roads proves that point. There is much to see and do along the way, whether it be window shopping at one of the many specialty stores along Colfax Avenue, exploring the famous State Capitol Building, or watching a professional sports game.
One could tour the Denver Zoo, marvel at Red Rocks Amphitheater and even turn their car around for another look at the skyline of Downtown Denver as they make their way around town. No matter what path you take in Denver, you’re sure to find something beautiful to take your breath away while enjoying a true Western experience.