Choosing to Take the Scenic Route in Colorado

When possible, make a U-turn.

It took several miles before my GPS finally gave up and realized I was taking the scenic route home. I spent the weekend in Keystone, Colorado for a travel bloggers conference (TBEX). Instead of going back to I-70, I decided to take the backroads to Colorado Springs.

I realize over the decades, the term “taking the scenic route” can sometimes have a negative connotation. For instance, when you realize you are lost, you may use that term. Or when someone is really late, you may ask them if they took the scenic route. This was not one of those instances; I deliberately choose to take the scenic route. And in Colorado, there is no lack of these available.

What’s the hurry?

Colorado Mountains

Colorado Mountains (via Julie McElroy)

As a travel writer, who likes to get off the beaten path, I am amazed at how often I am in a hurry and do not take advantage of the scenic route opportunities. Since I also travel solo a lot, sometimes it is out of fear. Most of the time, I admit though, I am just in a hurry.

What I realized on this particular scenic trip, was everyone is in a hurry. Since there are a lot of single lanes on the back mountain roads, there are plenty of instances of someone getting uncomfortably close to your rear bumper.

As I pulled off the turnoffs a couple times to let these raging drivers pass, I wondered, what is the hurry? It was a Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day. I mean unless you are still trying to make it to the Father’s Day dinner or catch a flight, why miss out on the actual “scenic” part of the route?

Now I realize there may be instances that these travelers may have not chosen to take the scenic route like I have, and just want to get home. But on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of Colorado, I wonder how many of those motorists fit that description.

Miss out on the Cool Stuff

Colorado Fire

Colorado Fire (via Julie McElroy)

When you take the scenic route, you have a good chance at seeing some cool stuff that you wouldn’t see if you followed the herd. Don’t follow the herd – unless you have to. In the instances you can avoid the main thoroughfare, take advantage of it.

I passed a handful of mountains that rose to heights that many skydivers jump from. These fourteeners, as they are called, loomed above me as I rode across curvy, carved slivers of gray that allow this scenic route to exist.

I slowed down for one or two miles along the way where small town America planted itself. The smell of home cooking filled my nose through many of these places. The sound of dogs barking and children laughing could be heard from some of the short roads that intersected the main highway. I wanted to stop at every one and talk to the locals. Ask them how they ended up there and what they did for fun.

You just don’t get this when you travel at eighty miles an hour across I-70. The truth is the time it takes to make it home on the scenic route is not that much longer. But worth it.

About forty miles outside of the Springs, a wildfire began to rage out of control. The local gas station attendant told me some guy was shooting at incendiary targets. Really? When fire hazards are posted as “Extreme?” Funny small town folks.

When you are a travel enthusiast, I encourage you to take advantage of these off-beaten paths when you can. Intentionally take the scenic route. Follow a sign to some unusual town or atttaction. Talk to the locals.

Between the mountains, the lakes, the small towns, and the fire, I felt like I had an adventure on the way home. Isn’t that what life is all about?

4 Responses to Choosing to Take the Scenic Route in Colorado

  1. Wow that sounds like a wonderful trip! I always wanted to see the mountains in Colorado. It sounds as breathing taking as you describe it. Did you manage to find out what the locals do for fun over there? Very funny that some guy was shooting at incendiary targets!

    Hotels in Edmonton June 27, 2012 at 7:43 am Reply
  2. “Isn’t that what life is all about?”
    I’d say yes, it is. Life is about experience, seeing yourself in an unusual, difficult situation, and getting through it. I’m sorry if that was kinda serious, but I was talking about life in general. And taking the scenic route is one way of living a real life. Setting the seriousness aside, I also enjoy taking photographs of every places I pass by in every road trip, whether with a group or just myself alone. And aside from the beautiful places, I also do enjoy taking people’s photograph; catch what they’re doing, make friends with them, because you’ll learn a lot from them too.

    Migration Expert June 28, 2012 at 12:31 am Reply
    • Yep! Life really is all about experience! =)

      Julie June 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm Reply
  3. I didn’t thought that Colorado mountains is so beautiful! Thanks.

    howtomakegirllaugh October 5, 2012 at 1:47 am Reply

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