U.S. Highway 285 west of Denver cuts through one of the most pristine segments of the Colorado Trail. Look for a large parking area near the summit of the pass to get out of your car, stretch your legs and walk comfortably under arching aspen trees in fall foliage. This part of the trail is also popular with mountain bikers and backpackers.
Further along the highway, gold aspen trees contrast elegantly with green conifers to form a calico of color on the surrounding hillsides. The pass has long served as a crossroads between the Front Range and South Park, historically used by Ute Indians, Pikes Peak Gold Rush placer miners and the narrow gauge Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad. Today, the drive could be easily combined into a loop with the Guanella Pass route for an action-packed full-day trip. Motorists may alternatively continue to Fairplay to experience a small town that still retains its Old West character. One of Fairplay’s most visited attractions is South Park City: a collection of restored structures saved from deteriorating abandoned mining settlements in the surrounding mountains.
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