For a unique trip to Estes Park, try driving along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. This scenic stretch of highways pass grand mountain views, historic sites, quaint towns and plenty of places to stop for photos! A two hour drive starting from Golden, Colorado the 'Peak to Peak' byway is open year-round and has small service stops along the way. We invite you to read more about the unique sites you will encounter while driving and click here for a Google Map of the route.
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway to Estes Park:
Starting at Golden, take Highway 6, which turns into Hwy 119 to Black Hawk.
Black Hawk, a tiny historic mining settlement was founded in 1859 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. Located just a stone's throw from Central City, another historic mining settlement, known as the "Richest Square Mile on Earth" are both part of the Central City/Black Hawk National Historic District. During the late 19th century mining boom, the two cities flourished following the construction of mills and a railroad link to Golden, CO. A fast decline occurred to the towns during the 20th century, but has since been revived in recent years after the 1991 establishment of casino gambling.
Black Hawk today is a mecca of casinos, both large and small. Stop in to test your luck at one of the slot machines or table games and then drive through Central City to view the historic Victorian homes and the famous painting, "The Face on the Barroom Floor" at the Teller House Bar. It really is on the floor!
Continue past Black Hawk on Hwy 119 to Nederland.
Nederland is a funky town located near the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the James Peak Wilderness. Established in 1885, the town started as a trading post between the Ute Indians and European settlers during the 1850's. Shortly after, the town boomed when tungsten, silver and gold were discovered nearby.
Caribou Ranch, right outside Nederland is a famous recording studio located on the road to the ghost town of Caribou. Many great artists have visited Caribou Ranch and a long list of songs and records have been produced within the walls of the old barn. The music recorded at Caribou Ranch includes, the hit single, "Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo," Elton John's 1974 album Caribou was recorded and named after the studio, Chicago recorded five studio albums and Amy Grant recorded four albums. Michael Jackson and John Lennon also cut tracks at the famous Caribou Ranch.
Today Nederland is home to an eclectic village and Eldora Ski Resort, offering 680 acres of skiing and 53 different runs. If you happen to pass by during early March, make a stop for the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days, a macabre celebration of the cryogenic freezing of the Norwegian Immigrant Bredo Morstoel. Don't believe us, check out the Frozen Dead Guy Days here.
At the round-about in Nederland, follow Hwy 72 towards Estes Park. Continue on Highway 72 until you reach a 'T' in the road and a stop sign. Take a left onto Hwy 7 towards Allenspark and Estes Park.
Allenspark, Colorado sits in the shadow of massive Mount Meeker and Chiefs Head Mountain. First visited by Native Americans and later by trappers, Allenspark received its name from the miner, Alonzo Nelson Allen who built the first cabin in the high meadow area.
During the late 1890s, Allenspark was inhabited by farmers and ranchers until the early 1900s when gold fever struck. Despite the rush for gold, the majority of farmers and miners found more luck catering to tourists and summer visitors. The town grew when summer residents began building homes from 1900 to 1920 and during the winter months, skiing took off on the nearby snowy slopes. The Allenspark area was a bustling snowy home to international ski jumping competitions and the development of the Rock Creek ski area that operated until 1952.
Now a year-round community resides in this sleepy town, worth the short drive through the main street of Allesnpark on your journey to Estes Park along Hwy 7.
Continue past Allenspark on Hwy 7 towards Estes Park.
Right before you enter into Estes Park from Hwy 7, stop at the Long's Peak viewing area for a picture of the famous 14er and then pass picturesque Lilly Lake, which is part of Rocky Mountain National Park. A grand view opens as you crest the hill to descend into Estes Park, see the village from above at this great vantage point. As you enter Estes Park, continue down Hwy 7 to enter the village or take a left at Mary's Lake Road to reach the west side of town and quick access to Rocky Mountain National Park.
You can also access Hwy 119 to Black Hawk via I-70, by taking exit 244 towards Black Hawk.
Hwy 119 from Boulder to Nederland is also open. Follow Canyon Blvd through Boulder, which turns into Hwy 119 towards Nederland. Once you reach Nederland, follow Hwy 72 to Hwy 7 (take a left onto Hwy 7 at the stop light) and follow into Estes Park