Colorado Road Trips – Some of our Favorites Around the State

We have now lived in Colorado for many years and really enjoy the beauty and variety in this beautiful state. While we have explored quite a few places since we have been here, we haven’t visited as many as we would have liked. We know we aren’t going to be in this colorful state forever and made a plan to see more of it. Thus we have done a few road trips and wanted to share which Colorado road trips we have enjoyed the most.  Today I want to share some of the trips we’ve taken along the I-70 from Idaho Springs, to Loveland Pass, and then out to Dillion Reservoir. While we didn’t necessarily do these all in one day, we really enjoyed them and I decided to share them all as one post. We also did the Peak to Peak Highway one time and I will share that separately. But today I will start with Idaho Springs and work our way westward.

Idaho Springs – Water Wheel Park and Bridal Veil Falls

Colorado Road Trips - Water Wheel Park - 1One of the closest Colorado road trips we have done is the 45-ish minute drive into the areas around Idaho Springs. I would have to say, it is probable our favorite place to go and get out of town for a while. It is also very close to Central City and Blackhawk if we feel like doing a little gambling.

Colorado Road Trips - Water Wheel Park - 2A short and easy walk from downtown Idaho Springs in Colorado will bring you to Water Wheel Park and Bridal Veil Falls. We saw the falls while taking a break and having a beer at the Westwinds Tavern. It looked cool so we had to take a walk and check it out before we left the area. I later learned it is called the Charlie Taylor Waterwheel Trail. The trail goes under Interstate 70 then goes west for about 1/10th of a mile before it arrives at the best viewing area for Bridal Veil Falls.

Colorado Road Trips - Water Wheel Park - 3While doing some more research on the falls, I learned that the falls spill out of Soda Creek high above, making its way then into Clear Creek, a stream famous for its gold, river rafting, and Coors Beer. I remember hearing about this creek on our Coors tour and thought it was quite interesting.

Colorado Road Trips - Water Wheel Park - 4The water wheel itself is also quite interesting and was built in the late 1800s by a local miner, Charlie Taylor. He used the water wheel to drive a machine called a stamp mill. Soft of like a big hammer that grinds and crushes the rock to get silver and gold ore out of it. It was relocated from Ute Creek to its present location by a group of volunteers in the 1980s and now belongs to the Idaho Springs Historical Society.

Like I said earlier, it’s a very short walk and very pleasant. We had our dogs with us and they seemed to enjoy running around as much as we did. We checked out the creek, falls, plaque, water wheel, and Bridal Veil Falls. It was a particularly warm day here for springtime in Colorado and I was very happy to stop under the 1-70 bridge for a few minutes to cool off, lol  We spent some time reading the plaques and taking some pictures. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend taking the time to visit  Water Wheel Park and Bridal Veil Falls.  Above is a video of the falls and the general area. Enjoy.

Loveland Pass

Colorado Road Trips - Loveland Pass 1Another one of our more enjoyable Colorado road trips was a visit to Loveland Pass. However, this one was a little cooler than our trip to Dillon. The weather in Colorado had been unseasonably warm last November, thus we decided to take advantage of the weather and made our way to Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide. For those of you who don’t know, I wanted to share that Loveland Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 11,990 feet in the Rocky Mountains of north-central Colorado. The pass is named for William A.H. Loveland, the president of the Colorado Central Railroad and a resident of Golden during the late 19th century.

Colorado Road Trips - Loveland Pass 2Every continent except Antarctica has a continental divide. Continental divides separate one drainage basin from another. They are used to define the direction that an area’s rivers flow and drain into the oceans and seas. The Continental Divide in the Americas is the line that divides the flow of water between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Rain or snow that drains on the east side of the Continental Divide flows toward the Atlantic Ocean. Precipitation on the west side drains and flows toward the Pacific Ocean.

Colorado Road Trips - Loveland Pass 3It is so beautiful up there, and you feel like you are on top of the world. The drive was amazing and we enjoyed driving through the ski towns before it got crazy with all the skiers and snowboarders. Loveland Ski Area is located on the east side of the pass, and Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) is on the west side.

Colorado Road Trips - Loveland Pass 4While we had a great time driving around and stopping to take some pictures of the breathtaking views, be advised that roads have a lot of curves without guard rails and with steep grades. Just take your time and enjoy the amazing views. We sure did.

Dillon Reservoir

Colorado Road Trips - Dillon 1On a short day trip to Loveland Pass late last year, we decided to stop by Dillon Reservoir and spend a few minutes to check it out. Sometimes referred to as Lake Dillon, it is a large freshwater reservoir located in Summit County, Colorado, south of 1-70 and bordered by the towns of Frisco, Silverthorne, and Dillon.

Colorado Road Trips - Dillon 2The Dillon Reservoir Dam, built-in 1963, is an earth-fill dam built to divert water from the Blue River Basin. At 5,888 feet long, it is the largest water storage facility in the Denver Water system. It is so huge, that the entire town of Dillon, Colorado, and a hydroelectric plant were relocated to build the dam. Today its shoreline supports many year-round recreational activities

Colorado Road Trips - Dillon 3During the winter months, ice fishing and snowboarding are common activities. For warmer months, the towns of Dillon and Frisco each have marinas on the reservoir. The Dillon Marina is open and hundreds of sailboats can be seen docked or sailing. Dillon Marina hosts many weekend racing regattas and also provides sailboats for rent. The Dillon Yacht Club is based out of the Dillon Marina and also hosts many sailing events. Dillon Reservoir is stocked each year with 50,000 rainbow trout by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Colorado Road Trips - Dillon 4The water is the biggest attraction, of course, but there is also an 18-mile paved bike path that winds around the entire reservoir. The path can be accessed at any point around the reservoir and passes through the towns of Silverthorne and Dillon. We saw quite a few bikers up and down the path. It looked like were having a great time. 🙂

Colorado Road Trips - Dillon 5Even though it was a short little visit, we found this one of our favorite Colorado road trips. We look forward to coming back this summer and spending part of the day with our dog, doing a little walking, and maybe having a little picnic. With such an amazing view, it’s hard not to want to relax and soak up the atmosphere. On a side note, we did stop and have lunch in Silverthorne.  It is also a beautiful area to visit. Hope you enjoyed learning a little about some of these areas we visited and decide to visit on your own. Please share your memories with me. I love to hear your stories.


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