~ Approximately 30 minutes west of Denver International Airport
Drive just west of Denver into the wonders of the Front Range, a 415-square-mile section of the Colorado Rockies. Stop in Boulder, a small college town known for the distinctive Flatirons rock formations, its quaint Pearl Street Mall and amazing restaurants, where travelers can try local specialties like a bison burger at Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery.
Boulder is also a gateway via State Route 119 to the scenic byway known as the Peak to Peak Highway. Hop on 119 south for an easy and picturesque drive to the top of Boulder Canyon. If you keep driving west, you’ll also discover Nederland. Once a mill site for silver and tungsten ore, this charming mountaintop town offers travelers a vibrant music scene and a variety of eateries and shops.
Drive 20 miles south on the Peak to Peak Highway to Central City, an old mining town founded during the Pike’s Peak gold rush in 1859 and later considered the “richest square mile on earth.” Today, Central City is a festive casino town offering travelers the chance to soak in its wealth of history, or try their hands at a slot machine or two. Or, head north on the Peak-to-Peak via State Highway 72 to Ward where you can grab a bite at Millsite Inn, a family-friendly mountaintop bar and restaurant whose owner loves to share stories with young visitors of his encounters with a “ghostly gentleman” at the inn.
After satisfying your appetite, drive about 30 miles north via State Highway 72W and 7W to Estes Park, a small, kitschy town located at the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park that is home to the world-famous Stanley Hotel. Stephen King’s one-night stay at the hotel in 1973 inspired his depiction of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Finish your day with a majestic drive through Rocky Mountain National Park along Trail Ridge Road, which is only open in the summertime.