Colorado Travel Getaway # 1

Travel is good for the soul.

In early March, many of us start looking at travel sites and begin thinking about a getaway to a warm place.  This year it's different, but that doesn't mean there aren't places to visit.  Many of which don't require air travel.

Where can you go in early March?  For most, the first place that comes to mind is the mountains.  With an eye on the weather knowing the March is our snowiest month, there are many options.

If you have a reliable car and want to soak up some sunshine and incredible mountain views without enduring 3 or 4 lanes of high-speed traffic for two or more hours on I-70, then you should head south to U.S. Highway 285.  Once on 285, you'll climb up into the foothills as you pass Indian Hills, Aspen Park, and Conifer.

Back in 1970, The Coney Island Dairy Land opened up in Aspen Park along U.S. 285. The name was eventually shortened to The Coney Island. The hotdog bun part of the building was painted pink back in 1980, and later as shown here in 1991, was upgraded to yellow.

Credit: The photo was taken by L.T. Hanon.

Here’s a Park County BULLETIN story from March of 2006 showing how the restaurant was moved along U.S. 285 to its new home in the Down of Baily. 

As you continue west on your drive, you'll come to Baily, and on the west end of this small town, as you follow the curve to the right along the creek, you'll see the Coney Island Boardwalk on the left side of the road.

Past Baily, you'll come to the small town of Grant, where you can occasionally spot big horned sheep on the right side of the highway.  Grant is also where you can take a right turn onto Guanella Pass Road, which is closed from late November, and it reopens on Memorial Day weekend at the Burning Bear Campground.  When it's open, this road covers some beautiful terrain and runs all the way to Georgetown to the north.  The road tops out above treeline and runs past Mounts Bierstadt and Evans.  It’s been 33 years since I drove it all the way over to I-70 in my 1971 VW Bug. Probably time to do it again.

Continuing west on U.S. 285, you'll come to Kenosha Pass, where you can park on either side of the road, get out, and stretch your legs while you take in the views.  As you continue on your drive over the pass, you'll be rewarded with views to the north, west, and south.  To the north, you'll see Geneva Peak, Glacier Mountain, Mount Guyot, and many more large snow-capped peaks straight ahead and to your right.  You'll descend a long hill and come out into South Park.  https://www.colorado.com/articles/real-south-park-colorado.

As you drive west, you'll go through Jefferson and past Como, which can be accessed by taking a right on Boreas Pass Road.  In the summer, you can take this road all the way over to Breckenridge.  It is dirt, but the last time I took it in an SUV, it was very driveable.  As you drive onward past the turn for Como, you'll go over Red Hill pass and then drive down into the city of Fairplay where U.S. 285 merges with Highway 9, which if you take a right turn to the north, you'll pass through the main part of Fairplay.  This road goes up and over Hoosier pass (11,542 ft) and takes you to Breckenridge and Frisco. The total driving distance from downtown Denver is 85.9 miles.

Just 11 miles north of Fairplay sits Montgomery Reservoir, which is surrounded by large mountains and in the summertime provides you with a great trail to hike.

If you don't want to drive all the way back to Denver, you can stay over in Fairplay at the Hand Hotel which is rumored to be haunted or another spot. 

Please share your comments about this story or other areas you’d love to travel to in the coming months.