EXPLORE

CHAFFEE COUNTY SUGGESTED DRIVES

SUGGESTED SIDE TRIPS
ON THE SCENIC BYWAY

 

Along the Byway many side routes offer spectacular scenery and experiences. Plan to include some of these in your explorations. Note that several are prime fall color aspen-viewing territory! Most routes are easily accessible by car; routes requiring high clearance or 4-wheel drive are noted. Please check with local visitor centers for detailed information on road conditions.

LOST CANYON

DESCRIPTION: Lost Canyon to Gold Basin is a graded road the first 2 miles on CR 398 west of Granite. As the road climbs through an aspen forest with some expansive vistas, it becomes steeper but is still 2-wheel drive accessible. The road becomes rough and rocky at timberline, requiring 4-wheel drive. The road ends above Gold Basin at 12,570’ elevation with 360 degree views of the Fourteeners, including Pikes Peak 90 miles to the east. A fall color destination.

GOOD TO KNOW: Closed in winter. 22.5 miles round trip (2-wheel drive portion) from US 24.

CLEAR CREEK CANYON

DESCRIPTION: Clear Creek Canyon on CR 390 is a graded county road to the mining ghost towns of Vicksburg and Winfield, about 8.5 and 12.5 miles respectively from US 24.

GOOD TO KNOW: The road beyond Winfield is 4-wheel drive only. Closed in winter. 25 miles round trip from US 24.

COTTONWOOD PASS

DESCRIPTION: Cottonwood Pass on CR 306 is paved to the Continental Divide at 12,126’ elevation. Side trips include Cottonwood Hot Springs and the South Cottonwood Creek Canyon Road to Cottonwood Lake. A fall color destination.

GOOD TO KNOW: Upper portion closed in winter. 44 miles round trip to the pass from US 24-285.

RODEO ROAD

DESCRIPTION: CR 321 is paved and connects Cottonwood Pass on Buena Vista’s west side to Chalk Creek Canyon with spectacular views of Mt. Princeton and ranchlands.

GOOD TO KNOW: 9 miles one way.

CHALK CREEK CANYON

DESCRIPTION: Chalk Creek Canyon includes Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, the Chalk Cliffs and historic mining towns of Alpine, St. Elmo, Romley and Hancock. CR 162 is a graded county road 17 miles to St. Elmo. Then CR 295 follows the unpaved DSP&P RR Grade with numerous potholes but is still 2-wheel drive accessible to the townsite of Hancock. The route ends at the Alpine Tunnel Trailhead, a great 6-mile round trip hike on the fairly level historic RR grade to the tunnel entrance.

GOOD TO KNOW: 45 miles round trip from US 24-285.

COLORADO MIDLAND RR GRADE

DESCRIPTION: Colorado Midland RR Grade leads north of Buena Vista on CR 371. This graded road along the east side of the Arkansas River passes through four short tunnels. The route’s north end crosses the Arkansas River to meet US 24 north of Riverside.

GOOD TO KNOW: 10.5 miles one way.

TROUT CREEK CANYON

DESCRIPTION: Trout Creek Canyon on US 24/285, a paved highway, climbs from Johnson Village up through lovely Chubb Park to Trout Creek Pass. This 9346’ pass is the gateway between Chaffee and Park Counties with spectacular views in both directions.

GOOD TO KNOW: 28 miles round trip to the pass from Johnson Village.

ASPEN RIDGE

DESCRIPTION: Aspen Ridge runs from US 24-285 in Trout Creek Canyon to Ute Trail and Salida via CR 307, CR 187, CR 185 and CR 175. The north section through Castle Rock Gulch and the south section on Ute Trail are graded roads; the middle section over Aspen Ridge is somewhat rough, with high clearance 4-wheel drive recommended. A fall color destination.

GOOD TO KNOW: Center section closed in winter. 26 miles one way.

MONARCH PASS

DESCRIPTION: Monarch Pass on US 50, a paved highway, crosses the Continental Divide at 11,312.’ This pass connects the Upper Arkansas River Valley to the Gunnison Valley and has spectacular views and numerous visitor attractions.

GOOD TO KNOW: 40 miles round trip to the pass from Poncha Springs.

SPIRAL DRIVE

DESCRIPTION: Spiral Drive on CR 176 to the top of “S” (Tenderfoot) Mountain is a graded road with a bird’s eye view of downtown Salida and the Upper Arkansas River Valley.

GOOD TO KNOW: 7 miles round trip from downtown Salida.

PONCHA PASS

DESCRIPTION: Poncha Pass on US 285 is a paved highway. This gateway between the Upper Arkansas Valley and the San Luis Valley crosses the 9,010’ saddle between the Sawatch and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges.

GOOD TO KNOW: 16 miles round trip to the pass from Poncha Springs.

MARSHALL PASS

DESCRIPTION: Marshall Pass on CR 200 is a graded county road. It leaves US 285 and winds up to the Continental Divide at 10,842’. This gradual grade of the former Denver & Rio Grande RR links US 285 to the West Slope. A fall color destination.

GOOD TO KNOW: Closed in winter. Round trip to the pass from US 285 29 miles.