400km, 5hrs driving
An easy day trip from Denver that gives you a taste of the Rocky Mountains.
This drive is a loop heading west of Denver through Jefferson and Park County. South Park fans should be familiar with these names! Jokes aside, Park County sits on a spectacular plateau almost 10,000ft above sea level. Combining this with views of Pikes Peak and a visit to Garden of the Gods makes for an awesome day trip from the Mile High City.
▐ Denver to Park County & Colorado Springs return
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Navigational Google Map:
Denver to Park County & Colorado Springs return
U.S. Route 285 –
U.S. Route 24 –
Interstate 25 – (CanAm Highway)
▐ Denver to Park County & Colorado Springs return (~400km, ~5hrs)
This drive starts westbound from Denver , and heads straight into the heart of the Colorado Rockies. The climb into the mountains begins as you turn onto , This section of road is a lot of fun to drive on, just be careful as temperatures can drop quite quickly as you ascend, especially in the fall and spring. You will drive through some beautiful landscapes, until you reach Kenosha Pass at just over 10,000ft above sea level. This is where you enter the grassland flats of Park County.
The view just as you begin the descent is breathtaking, as you can see the flats for miles, all with a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains. You will definitely want to pull off to the side of the road for a photo here. Make the descent, and enjoy some great driving roads surrounded by mountains all the way until you reach the town of Fairplay . The town of Fairplay forms the backbone of the theme for the show South Park. You will notice several familiar features including the town hall, the elementary school and the ‘main street’. In the non-winter months, you can enter the village of the South Park Historical Foundation . Depending on the time of day, the Java Moose on Main St. is a place I recommend for lunch.
Once you have spent enough time in the town, continue south along . To save some time, you can turn onto Colorado Highway 9 to cut across to . The roads really begin to open up around this region, and you can see the tarmac for miles ahead.
Eventually you will reach the gradual ascent up to Wilkerson Pass , again reaching almost 10,000ft above sea level. It is worth stopping at the small visitor centre here just as you pass the top, as you can stop and admire the view of the famous Pikes Peak. Continue east along through some beautiful forest until you reach Colorado Springs . Depending on the time of day, you can stop in for dinner or a quick coffee break.
The last activity of the trip is the incredible rock formations of Garden of the Gods , just outside of the city. These rock formations seem completely out of place with the surroundings, but so impressive. You can easily spend a few hours here, as there are plenty of trails and lookouts around the area.
Once you are finished your tour, continue back to Denver north up the .