Summit County Summer Drives
For amazing picturesque views, you’ll want to schedule in some time to get some scenic drives in Colorado on your vacation itinerary. Whether visiting in the spring and summer as the mountains come to life with floral hues and lush greens or in the fall when the vibrant yellows and oranges take over the mountains, there’s nothing quite like a scenic drive to soak in all the beauty of the Rockies.
If you’re coming west along I-70 from Denver to Summit County or will be driving east on I-70 on your return home, there’s also Berthoud Pass near Winter Park. This pass, also known as Highway 40, is at 11,307 ft. and rides the border between Clear Creek County and Grand County. There are wonderful mountain views and switchbacks on this pass.
A bit southwest of Keystone is Boreas Pass, just to the east of Breckenridge Ski Resort, and sits at 11,481 ft. The pass was originally used as a railroad pass but is now open to cars and mountain bikers. The pass was completed in 1882 by The Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad and the remains of Boreas Station are still there today. Enjoy the expansive views of the Blue River Valley, forests, and wildflowers in the spring and summer.
For this drive, prepare to spend about half the day in the car but know that the views are incredible and worth the drive. You’ll start by going west on I-70 to the Copper/Leadville exit (91), then take exit 24 toward Minturn. You’ll have spectacular views of the mountains and the remains of Camp Hale, a former military training camp. Once you’ve passed Minturn, you’ll get back on I-70 heading east past Vail back toward Summit County.
Just west of Keystone is Hoosier Pass that runs along the Continental Divide and the boundary between Park and Summit counties and is used during ski season for access to Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, and Keystone. Hoosier Pass’ initial elevation is 11,541 ft. and gains about 700 on the trail. The pass connects Denver and Breckenridge with a drive through the town of Fairplay.
Loveland Pass is favored by drivers looking to bypass I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel and don’t mind a high road with plenty of switchbacks. There are stops on the road if you want to take pictures as the driver will pretty much need to keep their eyes on the road! The pass offers access to hiking trails and backcountry skiing. The pass rises to 11,990 ft. above sea level and getting onto Loveland Pass from Keystone is very easy.
Down near Idaho Springs is the aptly named Oh-My-God Road, a 4.8-mile road that’s a little on the tight side. The tow-lane road is about a car and three quarters wide, graveled, and has no guard rails. Please use caution if you explore this road, plan to drive slowly, and it’s recommended to drive it in a four-wheel drive vehicle. The road ranges in elevation from 7,581 ft. to 9,383 ft. with some areas at a 12% grade. The views are stunning and there are even some mining camp ruins left to check out on the way.
Top of the Rockies Scenic and History Byway
The Top of the Rockies Byway is 115 miles and takes about three hours to drive the whole thing, but it can be done in smaller sections! Please do check current road conditions on the Colorado Department of Transportation website to see if Independence Pass is open. Depending on the snowfall, this pass can remain closed for long periods of time though can typically be expected to be open from Memorial Day to early November.