Scenic USA - Colorado

Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway

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Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway - Chaffee County, Colorado

Photos by Marilyn Porter
Marilyn's PBase Gallery

     Named for a series of 14,000 foot peaks of the Sawatch Range, Central Colorado's Mount Yale (14,202 ft El) - Collegiate Peaks Byway, CO Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway is one of the state’s newest byways. Covering 57 miles from Granite to Salida, the byway follows the Arkansas River and U.S. Route 24 and Route 291. Paralleling the Continental Divide, this area of Colorado was known only to Native Ute Indians, and a few European explorers and trappers until the mid 1800s. The first official mining claim, about four miles south of Granite and the northern extent of the byway, marked the beginning of the Colorado Gold Rush. Here among the sand and gravel of the Arkansas River, prospectors found the glittering metal of their dreams. And the Colorado Gold Rush was on!
     Off to the west, Colorado's towering fourteeners Junvenile bighorn sheep - Collegiate Peaks command the attention of byway travelers. With majestic sights of Mount Harvard, Mount Columbia, Mount Yale and Mount Princeton, it's natural to want a closer view. Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway guests are welcome to explore both sides of the byway. While the Arkansas River provides fishing and boating access points on the east, off to the west lie miles and miles of forestland, wilderness preserves and over a dozen mountain campgrounds. Just to the west of Buena Vista, a visit to the St. Elmo ghost town is a must. Mt Princeton (14,204 ft El) - Collegiate Peaks This popular ghost town is a page right out of Colorado's Gold Rush history, complete with a resident ghost. From St. Elmo, more Rocky Mountain adventure and grand scenery lie ahead. A very rugged road (not for passenger vehicles) leads up and over Tincup Pass for a mountaintop vantage point that can't be beat.
     This Rocky Mountain view, taken in mid October, shows the fall season here in the Collegiate Peaks area is short lived. Nearby Trout Creek Pass, young bighorn sheep perch on a Castle Rock fin (inset), providing plenty of photo ops. During this time of year, just after a brief snowfall, the landscape takes on a new variation of the always impressive Rocky Mountains.

         CDOT Byway Map

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