Scenic drives in and near Boulder are not hard to come by - and that’s putting it mildly. Just driving down some of the neighboring streets or South Boulder Road can give you sweeping views of the Flatirons and all of the "purple mountain majesties" that lie beyond. But, for those of you who are interested in a half-day trip or day trip full of twisting mountain roads, epic scenery and cool destinations, then we have the three most scenic drives for you!
Drive the Famous Peak to Peak Highway
From Boulder, you’ll follow the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway from Boulder Canyon to Nederland, a small and quirky little mountain town about 25 minutes from the north side of Boulder. The canyon drive itself is awe-inspiring, with its jutting monoliths of rock, creek views and twisting turns.
The winding road in Boulder's mountains — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
Beyond Nederland, you’ll make your way through Allenspark, passing Lily Mountain and the Twin Sisters on your way to Estes Park. Here, you can stop for a beer at the local brewery, visit the infamous Stanley Hotel (where the horror film The Shining was filmed) or go shopping in their adorable downtown shopping district.
Ride the Sky on Trail Ridge Road
If you continue through Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park, you can drive one of the most famous scenic byways in all of the country: Trail Ridge Road. It stretches 48 miles from Estes Park to the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. You’ll encounter sweeping views of Longs Peak, magnificent prairies and glacial formations that are possibly millions of years old.
While in the park, be sure to take advantage of the world-class hiking trails by visiting the Cub Lake trail for an easy hike, or if you’re really ambitious (not to mention, in good shape and an experienced hiker), you could always tackle Long’s Peak, the park’s one and only 14,000-foot mountain.
Longs Peak — Photo courtesy of Hope Gately
On your return trip to Boulder, it's recommended that you take US 36 back through Estes Park and down to Lyons, a funky little mountain town where you can stop off at Oskar Blues Brewery and see some of the unique and rustic mesa scenery of this Colorado favorite.
Go to the Top of Boulder Via Flagstaff Mountain and Much More
If you'd prefer to stay in Boulder, Flagstaff Road offers excellent views of Boulder Valley, the Flatirons and Indiana Peaks Wilderness on a clear day.
If you take South Boulder Road to the east until you hit Lafayette, jump on 287 and then head back toward Boulder on Arapahoe, you will see some exquisite views of the Rocky Mountains and Boulder Valley.