Estes Park to Black Hawk
In 1918, long before Colorado or the federal government established a historic and scenic byway program, the Peak to Peak route provided beautiful vistas to those driving Ford Model T’s between Rocky Mountain National Park and Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Today, your car’s engine is better equipped to deal with the thin air at 9,258 feet than those old autos, but the views of protected wilderness just a short drive from the Denver metro area will still leave you gasping for air.
Let someone else do the driving and take a ride on the Carousel of Happiness, a merry-go-round that includes dozens of animals carved and painted by hand. 20 Lakeview Drive, Nederland, 303-258-3457
Stretch your legs with a quick jaunt—less than one mile—around Lily Lake, but stop for pictures of Estes Cone or Longs Peak.
Nab a cinnamon roll from New Moon Bakery and Cafe—and take away a pecan coffee cake dusted with confectioners’ sugar. After all, you don’t want to get hangry while you’re on the road. 1 W. First St., Nederland, 303-258-3569
Estes Park’s Elk Fest—an annual celebration of the animal’s “rut” (aka mating season)—packs the town with events, including Native American dancing and storytelling. Sept. 28 to 29; Bond Park, 170 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park