Let the good times roll with some of our favorite road rides across the state. As the last days of summer melt away, if you don’t find the time now, when will you?

Glenwood Canyon Recreation Trail

This popular paved trail follows the Colorado River through stunning Glenwood Canyon between Glenwood Springs and Dotsero. Since it also follows I-70, there are plenty of rest stops, picnic areas, and drink machines, as well as side hikes en route. If that feels like too much work, catch a shuttle up to Bair Ranch and coast the trail back down to Glenwood.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 32 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 450 feet
Start: Glenwood Springs

Maroon Bells

Forest Route 125 takes you from Aspen to the end of the road at the viewing point for Colorado’s postcard-perfect Maroon Bells. With a moderate grade and the road closed to private vehicles between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., you’ll enjoy the scenery—and the feeling of having it almost completely to yourself—while pedaling.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 22 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
Start: Aspen

Mesa Verde Ruins Road

Sublime scenery, some of the best ancient cliff dwellings on the planet, and visitor facilities en route make the Ruins Road a truly classic day in the saddle. Just be sure to bring a light for the short (0.25-mile) ride through the road’s one tunnel, and save enough energy to make the return climb back up to Far View, the road’s high point.

Difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 46 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 4,000 feet
Start: Park Entrance Station
Fee: $15 per person park entrance fee (summer)

Mount Evans

For a grueling, high-altitude climb with amazing views and a mountaintop finish, nothing beats Mount Evans’ “road into the sky.” For your first time up, it’s best to begin at the entrance station instead of Idaho Springs. Start early to avoid afternoon buildup and bring all the food and water you’ll need with you.

Difficulty: Very difficult
Distance: 30 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 3,500 feet
Start: Mount Evans Entrance Station

Trail Ridge Road

When Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) opened in 1932, it was billed as “the scenic wonder road of the world.” With a high point of 12,183 feet, miles of tarmac through the tundra, and unparalleled mountain views, this is a true adventure—and one that should be taken seriously. Start early, bring plenty of food and water, and watch out for drivers gawking at the views instead of looking where they’re going.

Difficulty: Very difficult
Distance: 50 miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 6,600 feet
Start: Estes Park
Fee: $15 per person park entrance fee

Terri Cook
Terri Cook
Terri Cook is an award-winning freelance writer based in Boulder. More of her work can be found at down2earthscience.com.