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A Scenic Glimpse of Colorado's Guanella Pass

Sarah W. Frazier

Prepare yourself for 22 miles of amazing beauty. This lesser-known scenic byway gives travelers a glimpse into Colorado’s unfiltered wild and offers a temporary hiatus from the daily grind. 

Spruce and fir trees, mule deer, big horn sheep and wildflowers grace the side of the road as you climb to 11,700 feet in elevation. 

The summit offers visitors hiking and biking trails, picnicking and plenty of photo opportunities, including views of 14-ers Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. For those who travel with pets, dogs are permitted on the trails as long as they are leashed.

Though only 22 miles, expect to spend several hours traveling this byway, which begins outside of historic Georgetown and follows alongside the South Clear Creek and South Platte Rivers ending in Grant, near Highway 285.  And be forewarned: The first 10 miles are paved, and the remaining 12 miles are gravel—totally doable for motorcycles, but large RVs are not recommended.

Guanella Pass is open May through late November, weather permitting.  For directions or to check road conditions, view the US Forest Service website or call (303) 679-2422 ext. 2.

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