Peak to Peak Scenic Byway – Colorado

So blessed to be in this beautiful area!

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway winds its way between Central City and Estes Park. 59-miles long, it’s about an hour and a half drive (without any stops).

The early mining road that was built to bring supplies from Black Hawk to Nederland and Ward evolved into the Peak to Peak Highway. Although it never connected Pikes Peak with Longs Peak, as was initially hoped for, the highway became well-known. Also called Skyline Drive, the Glacier Skyline Drive, and the Glacier Route, Peak to Peak was declared Colorado’s first Scenic Byway in 1918. Less than an hour from Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, this drive is the perfect mountain getaway. The views are breathtaking, and you will pass through some of the state’s best mountain towns.

The canyons leading to the Peak to Peak from Boulder or Golden include Coal Creek Canyon, Lefthand Canyon Drive, Golden Gate Canyon, and Boulder Canyon. You can combine these canyon drives to create a memorable scenic loop trip.

Quick Facts

  • Winds are common along the Peak to Peak, especially in the treeless tundra during the winter, with gusts often reaching 100 mph.
  • Glaciers formed the Eldora Valley, and Arapaho Glacier – the largest remaining glacier in Colorado which supplies some of Boulder’s drinking water.
  • Gold, silver, lead, zinc, and tungsten have all been a part of the Peak to Peak’s colorful mining history. You can still see scattered mines that testify to the former gold rush days.

Peaks

Some of the Peaks along that Continental Divide that you can see from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (from south to north) include:

  • James Peak (13,294 feet)
  • South & North Arapaho Peaks (13,397 & 13,502 feet)
  • Kiowa Peak (13,276 feet)
  • Navajo Peak (13,409 feet)
  • Mount Audubon (13,223 feet)
  • Mount Meeker (13,911 feet)
  • Longs Peak (14,244 feet)

Golden Circle Route

Start/End in Boulder

76-mile loop

  • Boulder to Lyons (via Colo. 36)
  • Lyons to Allenspark (via Colo. 7)
  • Allenspark to Nederland (via Colo. 72, Peak to Peak Scenic Byway)
  • Nederland to Boulder (via Colo. 119, Boulder Canyon)
  • End in Boulder

Nederland

Nederland is a town framed by Eldora ski area and Barker Reservoir. The town has survived three boom-and-bust cycles involving three different minerals: silver, gold, and tungsten.

During the silver boom, President Ulysses S. Grant walked on silver bricks that had been mined in nearby Caribou and milled in Nederland. Nederland got its name when a Dutch company bought a prosperous silver mine in Caribou and a mill in the “lower” town that became Nederland – because it was lower than the mine. In 1874, the town of Nederland was incorporated. However, by 1890, the ore and people were gone.

When tungsten was in high demand for hardening the steel of gun barrels during World War I, Nederland’s population swelled to 3,000, and the Conger Mine was the greatest tungsten mine in the world.

In the late 1960s, hippies began moving in, and a vibrant music scene soon followed. Nearby Caribou Ranch Recording Studio opened in 1971. Elton John, Billy Joel, and Chicago have created legendary recordings at the Caribou facility.

Today, Nederland is better known as a gateway to outdoor recreation in the nearby Indian Peaks Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park, Roosevelt National Forest, and James Peak Wilderness. The town is also recognized for its coffee shops, gems, and eclectic vibe.

Backyard Vibes in Nederland, CO

Stay tuned for more 🙂

Sources: Discover Nederland & Mountain Adventure Guide

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