Five fall color hotspots near the Denver metro area #5: Guanella Pass

Clouds hover over Mount Bierstadt and Sawtooth Ridge at the crest of Guanella Pass during sunrise.

Joshua Hardin


Visit a charming Victorian mining town, thriving alpine environment and one of Colorado’s 14ers on this jewel of a scenic byway.

Take Interstate 70 west of Denver to Exit 228 at Georgetown. Keep an eye out for the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway road signs as you enter Georgetown’s historic district which will lead you to Clear Creek County Road 381. The road has been repaved recently and is in good condition suitable for passenger cars.

Check out a birds-eye view of Georgetown, crystal clear lakes and mountain campgrounds while you snake around the road’s switchbacks. If you’re lucky, you may spot a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep or ptarmigan bird from your vehicle. The byway crests at a timberline area between the subalpine and tundra zones nestled under 14,060-ft. Mount Bierstadt. As the byway descends along the South Platte River watershed toward Grant, watch for waterfalls surrounded by aspen trees from your windows.

Follow the byway to its terminus at U.S. Highway 285. From here, eastbound lanes return to Denver, westbound lanes lead to Kenosha Pass. Peak color here usually occurs in mid-September.

Add your comment: