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Ever see the sign off the side of the road of a pale blue Columbine with the words, “Scenic Byway?”  You have entered one of Colorado’s many spectacular roads designated as a scenic or historic road by CDOT. Colorado boasts 25 of these, with 11 of them designated nationally by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, more than any other state.

After completed your Spring car maintenance service with your favorite auto technician at Fort Collins Foreign Car Service, why not enjoy the purr of your finely tuned vehicle and take a driving tour of some of our scenic highways? You can even bring your bike, as many of these routes offer excellent cycling.

Starting from Fort Collins, we have the Cache la Poudre (North Park) byway:

Cache la Poudre – North Park

Poudre_River
By Wusel007 (Own work) [GFDL (//www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
This byway links Fort Collins with North Park, a bowl-shaped valley just west of the Continental Divide. The road runs through the Cache la Poudre River canyon, once a useful transit corridor for Native Americans. In the winter, it is popular with snowmobilers and cross country skiers. A bracing and pristine wilderness within a short drive of Fort Collins.In the warmer months, the most populous animal here will be human, found in hip wadres and wearing a funny hat with fishing lures in it, or in a wetsuit racing down the whitewater rapids in a canoe. Hopefully right side up.

The cache la Poudre is Colorado’s only federally designated National Wild and Scenic River. At 10,276-foot Cameron Pass the highway intersects Colorado State Forest, a 70,000-acre preserve. It just might be snowing on Cameron Pass in July, bring warm clothes. North Park, once a favorite bison grazing ground, remains heavily populated with a variety of mountain animals, including deer, antelope, elk, moose, beaver, and coyote; migrating waterfowl flock to the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. If you want to bird watch, hike, fish, canoe, bicycle or photograph nature, this is the area to go.

The Federal Highway Administration has a great website (with maps) highlighting other Scenic byways. Each link contains a map. Here are several byways  that make good candidates for a day drive:

Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road

Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road is America’s highest continuous paved road. Trail Tree lined alpine tundra reaches for the clouds from mountain peaks range from 12,000 to over 14,000 feet. It is very high altitude here, and can get quite cold. Conditions are similar to those found in the arctic circle. Altitudes along the road seldom dip below 9,000 feet. It is quite isolated up here, so get your car maintenance service before driving up to the top of Colorado!

San Juan Skyway

Travel the “road to the sky” and enjoy the majesty of towering 14,000-foot San Juan Mountains rolling down to hillsides dotted with ancient Indian pueblo ruins.

scenic byway
CC image courtesy of Patricia Henschen via Flickr

Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway

This could be called the flowerpot in the sky.  the Grand Mesa byway climbs from the Plateau Canyon floor to evergreen mesa forests, 11,000 feet up. Ripe with are hundreds of pristine lakes lakes, wildflower meadows and forests of aspen and pine.

Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway

The Gold Belt Tour byway is laid down along historic railroad and stagecoach routes leading to North America’s greatest gold camp, 3 world-class fossil sites, and an abundance of historic sites. It is a 6 hour drive, so bring a picnic.

Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway

You can follow the journeys made by explorers including Zebulon Pike and Cuerno Verde on this byway. If your wanting to visit peaks over 13,000 feet, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains has 22 of these behemoths!

Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway

(Colorado, Utah) The Dinosaur Diamond runs through one of  the best areas in the world to learn about dinosaurs fossils. Numerous sites are available to the public where bones and tracks are still visible in the ground as well as museums.

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