This National Scenic Byway truly earns its name—almost the entire route through the mountains of Colorado is at an elevation of more than 9,000 feet. The ride takes you past the two tallest peaks in the state—Mount Elbert, the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains in North America at 14,440 feet, and Mount Massive at 14,428 feet. To put that in perspective, if you’ve ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway, the highest elevation on that road is 6,053 feet.
- Aspen to Twin Lakes: Starting in the resort town of Aspen, take Colorado Highway 82 (CO82) east towards Independence Pass. Independence Pass is the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide at 12,095 feet. Then, after you pass the Twin Lakes Reservoir, you’ll come to U.S. Highway 24 (US24) and will have traveled about 43 miles.
- Twin Lakes to Leadville: Turning north on US24, it’s about 17 miles to Colorado Highway 91 (CO91). Along the way, you’ll ride alongside the Arkansas River towards its headwaters. Before continuing on the scenic byway, take the time to explore Leadville and its historic buildings and sites from the silver mining days of the late 1800s. At an elevation of 10,152 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States.
- Leadville to Minturn and back again: At the juncture of US24 and CO91, turn left and follow US24 north towards Minturn. It’s about a 30-mile ride. At this point, you can decide to reverse course and ride the scenic byway back to Aspen—or you could continue north on US24 to Interstate 70 and ride east. That’ll take you through Vale and on to Copper Mountain, where you can take CO91 and loop back to Leadville.
You could spend half a day riding the National Scenic Byway, or a long weekend (or more) exploring all the interesting sites that are too numerous to list. Between the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, the thrilling roads, and the abundant historical sites, there’s enough to see and do for several vacation tours. One thing is certain—you and your motorcycle will be on top of the world while riding this epic scenic byway.
Till next time, ride safe!
While in Colorado, ride the highest paved road in North America—Mount Evans Scenic Byway. We lay out some of the high points to see.