GO FOR A CRUISE | Amazing views await on Grand County’s roads
As sunny summer days warm up Colorado’s High Country, millions of tourists will take to mountain passes to reach the majesty of Middle Park.
Here they will take part in all of the classic summer activities, from mountain biking and hiking to whitewater rafting and fishing. But there is one simple pastime that is often overlooked, forgotten amidst the countless options for summer fun: a simple country drive.
TRAIL RIDGE ROAD
This is a famous and popular choice. When people think of taking a drive in Grand County, most will immediately think of the expansive vistas of the alpine stretches passing through Rocky Mountain National Park.
A bit further west, where US Highway 40 descends
into the narrow valley of the upper Colorado River, there
is even an official National Scenic Byway running along the Colorado River headwaters from the Park to State Bridge.
But if you search a little harder you can easily find a few dusty old mountain drives that do not see much traffic. Take a trip down the roads less taken.
STILLWATER PASS ROAD
Leading from Cutthroat Trout Bay high up into the mountains north of Granby, Stillwater Pass Road is one of Grand County’s longest and loneliest stretches of dirt.
The road is a winding meandering forest service road that is also officially known as Grand County Road 4. The road connects US Highway 34 and the Three Lakes area to Colorado Highway 125, running north from the Windy Gap into Jackson County.
Stillwater Pass Road is roughly 23 miles. While it is in fairly good shape, vehicles with low ground clearance could find it challenging. Come prepared with plenty of gas and a map.
There are more than a few spur roads and jeep trails that lead away from the main artery. Near the northern end of Stillwater Pass Road, where it approaches the ridge of the Continental Divide, hikers can find trails leading to nearby Lost Lake and its small, placid, crystal clear waters. You can access Stillwater Pass Road from US Highway 34 and Grand County Road 4, just south of Cutthroat Trout Bay or by taking CO 125 north roughly 17 miles north to Grand County Road 4.
WATER BOARD ROAD
Denver Water Board Road, or simply Water Board Road, is a comparatively lightly traveled road running along the western slope of the spine of the Continental Divide. Water Board Road runs high above the Fraser Valley and connects the Meadow Creek Reservoir area to Fraser via Grand County Road 8.
Along the way the road passes the Hurd Creek climbing area and the trailhead to Devil’s Thumb rock. Before heading down into Fraser, drivers can turn south on High Lonesome Trail road and head further into the vast network of forest service roads that lead down to neighborhoods outside Winter Park Resort or up to Rollins Pass and the remnants of the ghost town of Corona.
While most of Water Board Road itself is passable to the average vehicle, the spur roads and jeep trails leading off the main road, including the road up to Rollins Pass, can be rough and rugged. You can access Water Board Road from Grand County Road 8 in Fraser, from Grand County Road 83 near Tabernash and even from the neighborhoods east of US 40 near Winter Park Resort’s base area.
FRASER TO UTE PASS
Normally when drivers head from Fraser to Kremmling
they must take US 40 north through Granby and then turn west, following the path of the Colorado River. But during summer months, once forest service roads have opened and snowdrifts have all melted away, drivers have the option of taking a series of country and forest service roads from the Fraser Valley over to the Ute Pass area.
From there drivers can easily head south into Silverthorne
and Summit County or north to Williams Fork Reservoir and the towns along the Colorado River like Parshall and Kremmling. The path through the area, which includes Church Park and portions of the Byers Peak Wilderness, leaves from Fraser and heads west on Grand County Road 50, following the path of Crooked Creek.
The road splits at Church Park and drivers will want to follow Grand County Road 32 which continues west past the turnoff to Lake Evelyn’s trailhead. Eventually this road will emerge onto Grand County Road 3, also known as Ute Pass Road.
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