California may get a lot of attention from motorcyclists, but Colorado also has so much to offer in exchange for a shorter riding season. The state is a popular destination for riders with seven mountain ranges, thousands of mountain peaks, winding roads, and scenic byways galore. Enjoy a 360-degree view of the mountains as you swoop through turns and climb inclines, but just remember to keep a close eye on the weather. With high altitudes comes weather that can be unpredictable! If you’re used to wide-open routes in flat states, you may want to start with one of the shorter Colorado motorcycle routes on the list.
Ready to get started? Here are the must-ride motorcycle rides in Colorado you’ll absolutely love.
San Juan Mountain Skyway – One of the Best Motorcycle Rides in the U.S.
This magnificent scenic mountain route is frequently named as one of the top 10 motorcycle routes in the country. The 236-mile loop takes you through several mountain passes at over 11,000-foot elevation including a 12-mile section between Ouray and Silverton known as the Million Dollar Highway. Where did this stretch get its name? Some say it’s the million-dollar views, but it actually comes from a 1920 planning meeting in which rebuilding the highway would reportedly cost a million dollars.
The area you’ll explore on this scenic Colorado motorcycle route is called the Switzerland of America with hot springs, majestic peaks, river valleys, and red rock canyons at every turn. Take in stunning views of Mount Eolus, Mount Wilson, and Mount Sneffels and appreciate the Uncompahgre Gorge you’ll pass through on the Million Dollar Highway. You’ll drive along the edge of a cliff against the steep walls of the gorge with no guardrails, so take care on your turns!
Independence Pass – Top Colorado Motorcycle Route to Visit Hot Springs
Enjoy a motorcycle ride that’s decidedly Colorado with a stop at the world-famous Glenwood Springs, the world’s largest improved hot springs. Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day due to road conditions and altitude, this route is 80 miles one-way along Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Twin Lakes, Co. It’ll take you about 2 hours to complete with stunning views of aspen trees, mountains, and valleys. You can easily reach Snowmass and Aspen from this route too.
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Independence Pass is truly heaven for riders with narrow, twisty roads and just one lane in some sections. This National Scenic Byway takes you up to elevations of over 9,000 feet and past Mount Elbert, the highest summit in North America. There are several ways to take this route. One of the most popular options is starting in Aspen and taking Highway 82 east to the Independence Pass.
Looking for other attractions along Independence Pass? As you ride between Leadville and Aspen, you can stop by the Independence Ghost Town. Located 16 miles east of Aspen, the ghost town was once a large mining town with 1,500 people and 40 businesses. Just nine miles east of Aspen is Grottos Ice Caves with hiking paths to waterfalls, ice caves, and beautiful rock formations.
Trail of the Ancients – Culturally Significant Motorcycle Route in Colorado
If you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely want to ride the Trail of the Ancients, one of the most exciting motorcycle rides in Colorado. This National Scenic Byway is located in Utah and Nevada and circles through the ancient Anasazi Country past cultural and archaeological sites as well as diverse landscapes. Spanning 116 miles, the Trail of the Ancients is the only National Scenic Byway dedicated to archaeology.
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A good place to start is Cortez, Colorado. From there, you can travel to Mesa Verde National Park, the crown jewel of the ancient civilization and one of the world’s top historic monuments. The park was home to the Anasazi for more than 700 years and features over 600 cliff dwellings and 5,000 known archaeological sites. From there, you can continue to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park, the Four Corners Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, then finally the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.
Mount Evans Scenic and Historic Byway – Highest Motorcycle Route in America
Looking for a scenic but short motorcycle ride in Colorado? Try the Mount Evans Byway along Mount Evans Road. You’ll get bragging rights for riding down the highest paved road in North America at 14,130 feet elevation!
Mount Evans Road starts in the mining town of Idaho Springs and takes you on Highway 103 to the south to the junction of Highway 5. Slowly, pine trees will give way to an exposed mountainside with views of peaks and valleys carved by glaciers. You might even spot bighorn sheep and mountain goats along the side of the road.
The entire route is just 28 miles but takes almost two hours to complete.
One of the top attractions along the route is Echo Lake. In the summer, you can visit Echo Lake Lodge, a 1926 log cabin with a four-sided fireplace and famous trout.
Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway – Most Exciting Colorado Motorcycle Route
Looking for a Colorado motorcycle route with straightaways combined with winding paths? The Trail Ridge Road scenic byway is a great choice if you’re a bit intimidated by some of the very high-altitude motorcycle rides in Colorado without guardrails. You’ll also enjoy magnificent views of the Rocky Mountains National Park with everything from wildlife and pine forests to rocky mountain peaks. Within minutes, you’ll move from a mild temperature to a cold temperature as the wildlife changes from elk to bighorn sheep while you climb in elevation.
It’ll take about two to three hours to complete this route which is 48 miles one-way. The route leaves from Estes Park and takes you west to Grand Lake, Colorado.
Note that the road is closed during the winter and doesn’t open until late spring. It takes about 42 days on average to plow Trail Ridge Road every year and costs over $30,000 but you’ll see it’s well worth it!
There are a couple of attractions along the route including the small, picturesque Bear Lake and the Forest Canyon Overlook, a popular stop for photos.
Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway – Great Motorcycle Route in Colorado for Prairie & Mountain Views
Looking for a long route that traverses multiple landscapes? The Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway follows a path along the foothills of the Rockies once used by gold prospectors, fur traders, and explorers. Trappers and traders worked along the foothills, Ute Indians lived in the area, and Spanish conquistadors once explored the region. You’ll start in the town of Pueblo about two hours south of Denver then continue on to Westcliffe and Colorado City through the San Isabel National Forest.
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The ride begins and ends with sweeping views of buttes and prairies with the national forest and mountains in between. Wildlife sightings are very common, especially pronghorn, elk, gray fox, and deer.
Give yourself about three-and-a-half hours to complete this 103-mile iconic Colorado motorcycle route which includes a 16-mile backtrack. The entire route is a 2-lane, pathed highway that’s even RV-accessible and good for beginners.
Looking for attractions along the way? Stop at the Dinosaur Museum at Canon City, spend a few hours at Lake Isabel, and grab a picture of Bishop Castle, a castle completed by one man beginning in the 1960s with a fire-breathing dragon.
Are you excited to hit the open road and try some of the best motorcycle routes in Colorado for yourself? Just remember to check the weather first as many routes are not open during the winter and early spring. If you need motorcycle shipping to Colorado to start your next adventure, give us a call at Federal Motorcycle Transport at (877) 655-3492 for a free estimate!