Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road

State: Colorado
Length: 53 miles / 84.8 km
Time to Allow: Straight driving time is 2 hours, but there are numerous overlooks and short hikes. More time is encouraged to enjoy the scenic nature of this unique road.

The Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road is the second shortest byway in Colorado at just 48 miles long but no less spectacular. You can drive the whole road in two hours or take a day or two to take in the sights. As America’s highest continuously paved road, it overlooks an impressive peak going up to 14,000 feet. Several parts of the trail closes during the winter to avoid disaster, so make sure to check the local weather before taking this byway.

Begin your short journey in Estes Park to the east of the Rocky Mountains National Park. The Twin Sisters Peaks are just south of the town, and it makes for a fantastic day trip. As the byway makes its way straight through Rocky Mountain National Park, you will not miss the mountains. At the base of the mountain, find all the modern amenities you need.

Estes Park offers hometown hospitality and mountain flair with unique wilderness activities. Try out rock climbing, ride a horse, enjoy rafting, rent an ATV, fish, and much more. Stay at the Stanley Hotel and take a daily history or folklore tour at the stately estate. The hotel offers several restaurants and bars along with activities too. Visit the town during colder seasons for a variety of snow-related activities. You may recognize the Stanley Hotel as the inspiration for Stephen King’s movie “The Shining,” making it a great choice for thrill-seekers.

Additionally, Estes offers an adorable village with a scenic Riverwalk and a delightful downtown. Take an aerial tram, tour historic sites, get a beer at a brewer, and stay for a concert or festival. The entire town celebrates the Elk Rut and the strange mating habits of the wildlife. If you are looking for a stellar vacation, this town has everything but hot springs.

After enjoying the town, visit the Continental Divide, a ridge that runs along the crest of the Rockies from north to south with streams dividing the flow of the water to the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Find a variety of wildlife within the Rockies along with 14ers, mountains with peaks up 14,000 feet.

End your trip in the water-filled town of Grand Lake. While the village is quaint, the two lakes are huge. Northwest of Denver, the town has access to the Grand Lake and the larger Shadow Mountain Lake that runs into the Colorado River. The town provides plenty of places to camp, RV, or lodge. In town, enjoy shopping at the boardwalk and grab authentic meals at the Sagebrush BBQ & Grill.

Outdoors lovers will find this town to be an oasis of activities in any season. From Nordic skiing to ice fishing or skating, this town offers a haven for winter fans. In the summer, swim in the crystal clear tree-wrapped lakes. Take on the wild with hikes or camping in a tent. Find out why the Rockies have gained so much attention over the years for beauty and a chance to explore the wild parts of Colorado.

More Colorado Byways

You can check out additional Byways in Colorado by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Colorado Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.