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Denver to Salida Loop Road Trip

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402.2 miles: 10 hours, 3 minutes
Colorado’s breathtaking biodiversity and pioneer history is revealed during this trip as you drive from the bustling city center of Denver past curving, soaring peaks of the red mountains covered with pines, then down to the depths of bubbling brooks. The story-rich scenery transforms from lush to harsh from season to season, and from turn to turn.
1
Denver to Salida
146.8 miles: 3 hours, 1 minutes
It might feel like you’re climbing the mountains themselves as you round every switchback out of Denver through the Rocky Mountain Front Range. It can be desolate driving through the Lost Creek Wilderness Area, but the multiple massive mountain peaks and rushing water remind you that you’re not alone—just a part of something bigger.
2
Salida to Cañon City
68.1 miles: 1 hours, 41 minutes
At the bottom of every mountain is a valley and this one is where the freshwater of the Arkansas River flows, attracting adventure seekers and sightseers. It’s also where Salida was settled, offering art, antiques, restaurants and a glimpse into the area’s mining past. En route to Cañon City and more sightseeing, you'll be amazed by the vistas at Royal Gorge.
3
Cañon City to Cripple Creek
44.4 miles: 1 hours, 54 minutes
Phantom Canyon Road is narrow and winding with a 20-mph speed limit. Some of it is dirt and gravel, so a four-wheel drive car is best. If you can get past the primitive conditions of the “gold belt tour,” you’ll enjoy following the path of an abandoned railroad and glimpse the Old West in its original state of forests, meadowlands, ranches and plains.
4
Cripple Creek to Denver
143.0 miles: 3 hours, 26 minutes
In the heart of Pike National Forest, it’s hard to fathom how dense the trees must be in 1 million acres of forest. The detour to Pikes Peak itself is worth doing, but its 162 turns aren’t for the faint of heart. You can always get another natural experience down below in Deckers, where fly-fishing is the go-to sport. Then Denver awaits with more to explore.