The 5 Best Rocky Mountain Road Trips
Whatever, France. You may have the Alps, but we’ve got the Rockies--the most beautiful mountain range in the world, as far as we’re concerned. Here, five incredible scenic drives to take through them, past Wild Western towns, red rock arches and majestic spires piercing the heavens. Step on the gas.
This piece originally appeared on PureWow.
Canadian Rockies, Alberta
One of Western Canada’s most scenic routes, the journey between Jasper and Banff national parks stretches for nearly 300 miles. Spend a day or two exploring Jasper--hike Maligne Canyon and take a dip in Miette Hot Springs. Then travel south toward glistening Lake Louise and finish up in lovely Banff National Park, where you can canoe on Bow River and take a gondola to the peak of Sulphur Mountain. If you visit during winter, you’ll even have a shot at seeing the Northern Lights.
Suggested time: 7 days
Going-To-The-Sun Road, Montana
This 50-mile road carved into cliffs is the highlight of any trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park. The drive snakes around mountains, offering jaw-dropping views of glacial lakes, cloud-kissed peaks and verdant valleys, before finally crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. During the winter, hazardous conditions close large segments of the road, so summer is definitely the time to go.
Suggested time: 3 days
San Juan Skyway, Colorado
This 233-mile stretch (dubbed the Million-Dollar Highway) winds past four mountain passes, two national forests and the absolutely stunning Mesa Verde National Park. Stop in the town of Ouray for a dip in the natural hot springs before proceeding to the Old West towns of Telluride, Silverton and Durango. Feeling adventurous? There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, horseback riding and rock climbing.
Suggested time: 5 days
Route 12, Utah
Nicknamed the Scenic Byway, this road traverses 124 miles of rugged and isolated terrain and links the Capitol Reef National Park to iconic Bryce Canyon, home to hundreds of vibrant red and orange jutting rock spires called hoodoos. Take a full day to explore Bryce Canyon’s 50 miles of trails by car, foot or on horseback, and stop in the picturesque ranching town of Boulder, where you’d be wise to fuel up on a traditional Southwestern meal at Hell’s Backbone Grill.
Suggested time: 4 days
Santa Fe/Taos Loop, New Mexico
Take the (literal) High Road from Santa Fe to Taos, passing by apple orchards, chile farms, Native American ruins and Spanish-influenced pueblo villages. Don’t miss the picturesque towns of Truchas and Chimayó (legend has it the dirt inside the local church, Santuario de Chimayo, has healing powers). Finally, hop on the Low Road, which runs across the Rio Grande and back to Santa Fe to complete the 178-mile loop.
Suggested time: 4 days