Places to See Off The Beaten Path in Colorado
By Megan Hanson
If you have ever taken a campervan through Colorado, more than likely you’ve driven on Interstate 70. I-70, which includes the last completed section of the Interstate Highway system through Glenwood Canyon, is considered by many to be a marvel of human ingenuity and engineering.
For Coloradans, I-70 can also be one of the biggest traffic nightmares in the state!
On a busy weekend, drivers can expect to spend hours sitting bumper-to-bumper with thousands of others trying to get both to and from the many iconic locations along its route.
If that sounds miserable to you (and let me assure you, it is), don’t fear. While I-70 may stake claim to places like Breckenridge, Vail, and of course, Denver, there are many other gems that can be discovered off the beaten path in Colorado. Here are the top three recommendations that you can get to starting at our Denver depot.
First Stop In Steamboat Springs
Located in northern Colorado’s Yampa Valley, Steamboat Springs is home to an internationally known ski resort, natural hot springs, and a river perfect for fly fishing, floating, and more. While skiing takes priority in the winter, in the summer the town’s western heritage comes into full focus.
A truly authentic mountain town off the beaten path in Colorado, their Hot Air Balloon Rodeo every summer offers spectacular views, while their world-famous Winter Carnival celebrates the town’s traditions. With miles of hiking and biking trails, there’s something for everyone. Plus, while “the Boat” itself is beautiful, the drive there is even more stunning. Turn off I-70 in Silverthorne to take CO-9 and US-40 through gorgeous Grand County, or from Denver go north to Fort Collins and west on CO-14 over the scenic Cameron Pass.
Next, Head Towards Aspen
While you are on I-70, head towards Aspen, an iconic ski town. Aspen lies 40 miles off the highway. In the summer, take the scenic route on Independence Pass to arrive straight in the heart of downtown, passing over the Continental Divide on your way.
While Independence Pass is closed from late October through Memorial Day, you can also get to Aspen via Glenwood Springs — take a dip in the hot springs while you’re passing through.
Once you’re in Aspen, take your pick of one of their four mountains for either skiing or hiking depending on the season. Aspen has plenty to do year-round, so if the nightlife is for you, you’ll have no shortage of options. Grab a ticket for a concert at Belly Up, where acclaimed artists like Jimmy Buffet, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, John Mayer, and more have all played, before dinner at one of the many world-class restaurants in town. If you’re looking for a place to park your van, head back up Independence Pass for a variety of (free!) camping options.
Make The Last Stop in Scenic Telluride
Telluride is by far the furthest destination off the beaten path in Colorado. In the far southwestern region of the state, Telluride sits in a box canyon surrounded by the majestic San Juan mountains.
A six-hour drive from Denver, it is nearly the same distance from our Salt Lake City depot, making it a great option for campervanners coming from either depot. While the ski resort is again the main attraction in the winter, their annual Bluegrass Festival and Film Festival are highlights of the summer. There are also more than 30 hiking and biking trails all featuring waterfalls, wildflowers, and high alpine lakes. A truly special mountain town,
Telluride is more than worth the drive. When it comes to getting off the beaten path in Colorado, there’s no better way to do it than in an Escape camper van! Book yours today and find these hidden gems as you enjoy the drive along the way!