Ultimate Scenic Day Trips
Peak to Peak Unveils Spectacular Views Around Every Corner
The views of the western foothills from Longmont are breathtaking in themselves, but nothing beats an up-close experience with nature. Colorado’s scenic byways are built for exploration. Jump in the car for a day trip on the Peak to Peak Byway — established in 1918, the state’s oldest scenic byway stretches 55 miles and treats travelers to a parallel journey along the Continental Divide.
The Peak to Peak byway is only 25 miles from Longmont and is accessible from at least four different roads, extending from Estes Park (home to Rocky Mountain National Park), all the way to Black Hawk/Central City (Colorado’s casino towns) and beyond. Amazing views will distract you so plan on stopping often at some of the many roadside pull-offs to stretch your legs and take advantage of some only-in-Colorado photo opts. Snowcapped mountains are part of the year-round landscape and autumn visitors are treated to acres of aspens ablaze with color. Springtime boasts fields of wildflowers and crystal-clear rivers. For picturesque winter vistas en route to ski at Eldora Resort, the Peak to Peak highway is the perfect choice. Enjoy exploring the ghost towns and National Forestland along the Peak to Peak highway and always be aware of wildlife crossing the roads and the possibility of quickly developing thunderstorms.
Peaceful Valley Ranch is one of Colorado’s oldest and largest guest ranches. Open year-round and located 30 miles west of Longmont along the Peak to Peak Highway, Peaceful Valley Ranch is a great location for a wedding, corporate retreat, family reunion or family vacation. The ranch offers 3- and 6-day dude ranch packages during the summer as well as snowmobile and snowshoe tours during the winter. See their ads on pages nine and seven for more features and contact information.
Stop by a visitor center — in Lyons, Lily Lake, Estes Park or Nederland — and pick up street and trail maps of the region you are visiting. You’re sure to find helpful visitor center volunteers to answer questions and point you in the right direction.
If you like the wildlife (whether it’s urban nightlife, extreme sports or horseback riding with mountain goats in the Rockies), or the mild life (gourmet dining, ballet and the symphony, or taking a scenic drive), you can find something to tempt you either in Longmont or within an easy day trip.
About 30 miles from Longmont, the town of Estes Park is nestled among some of the most spectacular mountains in the area. The town offers a variety of shopping, galleries, restaurants, a microbrewery, and is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. You can listen to folk musicians, eat haggis (a traditional Scottish dish), listen to a string quartet, or celebrate midsummer at the Scandinavian Festival. Learn more about Estes Park at www.coloradoinfo.com.
Within minutes of Estes Park, the spectacular scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park beckons with world class hiking (both easy and extreme), climbing and fishing in the many high mountain lakes and creeks. Pack a picnic, sit along the river’s edge, or enjoy the wildlife, like elk, deer, big horn sheep, hummingbirds and mountain blue jays.
The City of Boulder is in a small valley about 15 miles southwest of Longmont. Home to the University of Colorado, its signature location, marked by the Flatirons mountains, are well worth visiting for a hike or simply to watch the sunset (or sunrise). You can get a history lesson on the area as well as a few laughs if you take Banjo Billy’s 90-minute tour. Boulder was just named Bon Appétit’s “Foodiest Town in America” for 2010.
Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder is well known throughout the country as an area with unique boutiques, restaurants, specialty stores, and unusual entertainment on the main walk, such as jugglers, street musicians and fire-eaters. The children’s climbing rocks give a preview of the options available nearby for climbing (slightly larger) rocks. On your way back to Longmont, stop by Celestial Seasonings in Gunbarrel to tour their manufacturing plant or have lunch or brunch in their café and browse the unique gifts in the shop.
Denver is a vibrant city with year-round adventure and the breathtaking Rocky Mountains in the city’s backyard. From a thriving arts and culture scene, world-class attractions and endless shopping possibilities, to nationally recognized chefs, exciting nightlife and abundant outdoor recreation, Denver welcomes you to discover how the Mile High City will awaken your senses like nowhere else. Explore the Denver Zoo’s Primate Panorama, take in a major league sports game, or travel through space and time at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Watch the sky come to life each year at the Erie Balloon Festival, just a stone’s throw south of Longmont. The vibrant hot air balloons are an explosion of color against the backdrop of Longs Peak. Mark your calendars for spring and get your seat for the balloon launch and the Erie Town Fair.
Several other towns located within 40 miles of Longmont are well worth a visit. Fort Collins is the home of Colorado State University and the Anhueser-Busch Brewery. Lyons, home of Rockygrass and Rocky Mountain Folk Fest, is a true Colorado delight. Loveland is well known for its sculptures and several foundries draw sculptors from around the world.