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Celebrate Superformance's 20th year anniversary in the Spectacular Colorado Rockies

For a quick study in Rocky Mountain eco-systems, you could hardly find better instruction than here. This well-settled road leap-frogs the steep divide between the South Platte and Clear Creek watersheds, passing through a succession of distinct environments. The lower elevations are green and wet, thick stands of spruce, fir, aspen, and pine rising along cascading creeks. Higher up, the streams snake through broad meadows, succoring thirsty mammals, nesting birds, and the industrious beaver, The road crests well above timberline, where every spring the grasses and flowers stubbornly renew, and the fragile tundra thaws and blossoms. This old logging and mining area flanked by Mounts Bierstadt and Evans boasts two of the state's best-preserved Victorian towns, Georgetown and Silver Plume.

A Map of Guanella Pass

A birds eye view of Georgetown taken high up on the Guanella Pass Road...

Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway provides a refreshing auto trip along a 23-mile alpine route in the Pike and Arapaho National Forests. The Byway is accessible in less than an hour either from U.S. Highway 285 in the town of Grant, or off Interstate 70 at the Georgetown exit. It is maintained year-round for passenger vehicles, though large RVs are not recommended on this mountain byway. Remember to dress warmly as even in summer the temperatures can drop significantly, and storms move in quickly at this high elevation.

Along the 23-mile route, you'll see swaths of quaking, shimmering leaves creating golden waves along the mountainsides with tiny alpine flowers cover the ground. These hardy plants, often less than an inch high and smaller than a dime, can take 100 years to grow and have to withstand intense solar radiation, freezing temperatures and constant, punishing winds. Later in the season, Geneva Park is home to fields of blue columbines, Colorado's state flower.

Gray's Peak and Torrey's Peak can be seen from Guanella Pass, and both of these mountains are more than 14,000 feet high. A herd of about 200 bighorn sheep live in the mountains above Georgetown and Silver Plume. Another large herd resides above the town of Grant. During the winter months they move to lower elevations for grazing and often are found along the Byway roadside. Please remember not to feed the animals.

South Clear Creek and Geneva Creek, which parallels the Byway, is home to a large beaver population. North of Guanella Pass Campground you can see numerous beaver dams and lodges. The beavers share a habitat with a variety of songbirds, including Wilson's warblers and white-crowned sparrows.

The Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway follows an old wagon route that linked the mining towns of Georgetown and Grant. Georgetown and Grant were silver mining towns that blossomed during the 1860s. The pass sits in the broad band known as the "mineral belt," running from near Ward through Leadville into the San Juan Mountains. The belt contains most of the state's mined regions. That portion of Guanella Pass that lies within Clear Creek County is also considered a part of the Silver Heritage Region, which was designated as such to preserve and enhance both the cultural and natural resources of the area.

Joseph Guanella and son Paul in 1894From the town of Grant, Guanella Pass follows Geneva Creek Canyon to Falls Hill. At this point it climbs a series of switchbacks that have been constructed across glacial moraine. At the top of Falls Hill the road skirts the edge of Geneva Park, a large mountain meadow composed of glacial soil deposits. As the road leaves Geneva Park and climbs north along Duck Creek, dense stands of lodgepole pine give way to the spruce-fir forest. Above Duck Lake the road reaches timberline and continues climbing to a summit elevation of 11,666 feet above sea level.

North of Guanella Pass Summit, the road descends through the spruce-fir forest before joining South Clear Creek at Guanella Pass Campground. For several miles the creek meanders gently through willow thickets, interspersed with beaver ponds and lush subalpine meadows. At Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant the valley narrows, dropping past Clear and Green Lakes, to the historic community of Georgetown. A number of pullouts along this section of the route provide breathtaking views of the South Clear Creek Valley and Georgetown.

Natural and historic sites may be visited and photographed all along the Guanella Pass Scenic & Historic Byway, which includes part of the roadway in Georgetown. The historic mining camps of Waldorf and Geneva City offer side excursions for mountain bikers and hikers on either side of the Pass during summer months.

The Waldorf cutoff just outside of Georgetown eventually meets the abandoned Argentine Central Railway Bed. This 16-mile narrow-gauge railway, known as the "Stairway to the Stars," was built in 1905 by Edward Wilcox to access his mines on Mount McClellan. It passed through Waldorf and terminated in a mining tunnel called the Ice Palace, which was filled with ice formations and was a popular tourist attraction.

There are extensive backcountry trails leading from the summit of the pass through the Mount Evans Wilderness Area and Geneva Basin. From the summit, it is possible to take a day hike up nearby Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet) or Square Top Mountain. In the winter, many of the hiking routes turn into backcountry cross-country ski trails.

Holding the prestigious title of the highest paved road in North America, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway climbs more than 7,000 feet in just 28 miles, reaching an altitude of 14,264 feet. At the summit you'll enjoy the big picture - the entire Front Range sprawls at your feet - but don't overlook the details. This highest of Rocky Mountain highs brings you to the rarefied world above timberline, a singular amalgam of hardy wildflowers, lichens and grasses, furry mammals like pikas and marmots, rock-jumping mountain goats, and alpine lakes. This is perhaps the best place in Colorado to catch a glimpse of the stately bighorn sheep. The weather is volatile - be prepared for wind, rain, lightning, snow, and hail any day of the year.

The Mount Evans Scenic & Historic Byway is the highest paved automobile road in North America. Only 35 miles from Denver and starting in the historic community of Idaho Springs, the 28-mile drive crests at Mt. Evans Peak.

Work on the road began in 1915, as part of the Peak-to-Peak Highway, a road system designed to connect Colorado's northern fourteeners. Though a portion of the Byway (Highway 103) is open year round to Echo Lake, the road to the summit usually closes in mid-September and opens Memorial Day weekend due to the 10 to 75-foot snow drifts on the summit road.

You can view the entire Front Range and the Continental Divide from Mt. Evans' 14,265-foot summit. You'll also experience the same flora and fauna life zones you would find in the Arctic Circle. In addition, you might spot herds of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Colorado's state animal. During your climb up the Mt. Evans Scenic and Historic Byway from Idaho Springs, you will pass several mountain lakes, including Echo Lake at 10,600 feet, Lincoln Lake at 11,700 feet and Summit Lake at 12,830 feet. There are trailheads from the road leading to the lakes. Overall, there are more than 100 miles of hiking trails on Mt Evans. Mountain and road bikers often traverse the Byway to enjoy the scenic magnificence as well.

There are three plant and animal zones along the Mt. Evans Scenic & Historic Byway. The first, the montane zone, is the traditional forest environment you see at around 7,000 feet at the beginning of the Byway. Here, you'll see ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir, along with deer, weasel, porcupine, fox, chipmunk, squirrel, black bear and beavers. The subalpine zone begins at 8,000 feet. Vegetation varies here, but you still can see the bristlecone pines, dense thickets of skinny lodgepoles, aspens and Englemann spruce. The lodgepole cones adapted to survive many fires by producing lots of seed, which makes for a dense forest. Although you may get a glimpse of elk, the subalpine zone is home to smaller animals like the yellow-bellied marmot, badger, ermines and pikas.

At 12,000 feet, you'll hit timberline. Here, intense solar radiation, high winds and freezing temperatures prevent the growth of vegetation larger than a bush. Above timberline is the alpine zone where you'll see alpine tundra--wild flowers and other small plants specially adapted to the short growing season at this high elevation. This is also where the Big horn Sheep hang out.

Mt. Evans is one of the few areas below the Arctic Circle where alpine tundra is found. The rocky alpine zone is a hospitable area for the ptarmigan, the sure-footed bighorn sheep and white mountain goat. Notice the horns on the male bighorn sheep - you can tell the ram's age by the rings of growth laid in the curl. But this is no petting zoo. Rangers caution us that these are wild animals that bite and ram with their horns. There is a fine for anyone caught feeding the animals. Please keep a respectful distance. The flora is extremely vulnerable. There are still areas along the road trying to re-vegetate years after clear-cutting took place for the road construction.

Sudden changes in weather are not uncommon along the Mt. Evans Scenic & Historic Byway. Daytime temperatures often plummet with the arrival of a cloud or the stirring of the wind. Expect at least a 15 degree difference between Idaho Springs and the summit of Mt. Evans. Dress warmly and always take a jacket or sweater when exploring the upper elevations. Snow is possible at any time, and in summer thunder showers are frequent in the late afternoon. Don't miss the breathtaking experience of this scenic and historic byway. Bring your camera, go early in the day, enjoy the wildlife, the vegetation and the view. But please remember that this is a fragile ecosystem and be respectful of the vegetation and wildlife along the Byway. Your visit will be memorable!

Welcome to the showcase of the Front Range...   Less than an hour from Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins, this 55-mile-long route provides matchless views of the Continental Divide and its timbered approaches. The string of popular attractions along the way - Rocky Mountain National Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Eldora Ski Resort - combine recreation with nature preservation. The gravel roads criss-crossing the main highway lead to high-country lakes, trailheads, campgrounds, the Moffat Tunnel's east portal, and ghost towns at Hesse and Apex. Established in 1918 this is Colorado's oldest scenic byway.

Soaring to an elevation of 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road seems to leave the earth behind. It slices through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, entering a world of rare alpine beauty. Distant peaks loom in all directions, while fragrant wildflowers blanket the tundra in mid-summer. Sharp-eyed observers can usually spy elk, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife traversing the meadows and crags. Higher than any other paved through-road in the country, this cliff-hugging highway is as impressive for its engineering as for its stunning vistas. You can't find a road like this one anywhere outside of Colorado.

Pikes Peak Tollroad starts at Cascade, Colorado and winds 12.42 miles to the summit making the greatest elevation gain of any peak in the state - 7,400 feet from base to summit. Number 31 of 54 14,000' peaks in Colorado, yet Pikes Peak is the most visited in the state and, as a matter of fact, the second most visited in the World. Expect to spend approximately two hours for a round trip to the top and back. If you feel adventurous, try hiking Barr Trail to the top. Starting in Manitou Springs just west of Colorado Springs, the trail traverses 13 miles of breathtaking views (and altitude)! Take the necessary precautions with this method. Several conditions can occur due to altitude, dehydration and intense sunshine. No matter how you journey this spectacle of the Rocky Mountain Region, Pikes Peak will energize and refresh your spirit. This truly is, as Katherine Lee Bates described, "America the Beautiful."

The Lariat Loop Scenic Byway is Colorado's only urban byway. This byway, which runs 33 miles, is filled with cultural, natural and historic landmarks. The Lariat Loop is filled with museums, good entertainment, tantalizing cuisine, and plenty of opportunities for hunting, hiking and horseplay. The byway starts on US 6 in Golden, traveling up Lookout Mountain Road, then southwest down to US 40 onto I-70 at Genesse. The loop continues on SH 74 from El Rancho through Evergreen to Morrison. Hogback Road then continues north to US 40, and then Heritage Road back to US 6. The Lariat Loop Byway provides access to many attractions. The main attraction on the byway is Lookout Mountain. It is here where "Buffalo" Bill Cody's grave lies. The grave is located near the Buffalo Bill museum and Pahaska Tepee. The byway also travels by Red Rocks Park. This area has been referred to as "Garden of the Angels." The park is filled with huge red rocks combined with a 10,000-seat theater and orchestra pit, where performers such as Blues Traveler, Bill Cosby, Dave Matthews Band and many, many others have graced the stage. Evergreen Lake is a popular area for recreation. Boating, year-round fishing, and ice skating are popular activities on the lake. Outdoor concerts are also held on the lake frequently. The northwest portion of the lake feature bridges and board walks through the wetlands.

...and there are several dozen more scenic stops to come!