Guanella Pass

It’s hard to imagine that burros once passed this way on this beautiful road, climbing to the timberline with majestic views of 14,600-foot Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans, while laden with silver as they made their way between Georgetown and the mountain mines. Today, the mining has ended and the paved Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway traverses the steep divide between the South Platte River and Clear Creek through a series of distinct natural environments on its way up and down. The lower areas are green with thick forests of spruce, fir, aspen and pine. Further up, the streams thread through broad meadows, rustling with wildlife, nesting birds and industrious beavers. Above the timberline, the landscape is ablaze with flowers that return every spring. Cool groves of aspen and pine light up with brilliant golden colors in autumn.  Moving through the elevations delivers a changing ecology ending in the alpine tundra at the tree line. Enjoy the journey to the top of the world as you move through climate zones on your way to the top of the pass and down again.  Keep your eye out for bighorn sheep, mountain goats and golden eagles as you pass through the Arapaho National Forest and the Pike National Forest.  The breathtaking views are well worth the trip.  September and early October are the best times to drive the Byway, after starting your visit in two of Colorado’s best preserved Victorian towns with outstanding National Historic Districts. Guanella Pass is seasonally closed around Thanksgiving and reopens Memorial Day Weekend. 

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