The journey of getting to Aspen is almost as good as being here. Roll down the windows. Rock your favorite playlist. And get your mountain vibe on before you arrive. Here are the most scenic routes for driving to Aspen.

The Stairway to Heaven

From the East: Hwy 285 west from Denver, Hwy 24 north, Hwy 82 west (open in nonwinter months)

Each section gets better on this ascent of awesomeness. Cross the wide-open, high plains of South Park. Follow the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway with Ivy League-inspired, towering 14ers on your left and the whitewater and trout-rich Arkansas River on your right. Next comes jaw-dropping Independence Pass. Savor the majesty of the Continental Divide on top—12,095 feet. Then descend through glowing aspen groves into town.

The Classic

From the East: I-70 west to Hwy 82 east

Tour Colorado ski country as you pass Loveland, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek. Stop for a hike to Hanging Lake in gorgeous Glenwood Canyon. And soak at Glenwood Hot Springs before following the Roaring Fork Valley into Aspen.

The Backroads

From the South: Hwy 135 north to Crested Butte, Co Rd 12 west to Hwy 133 to Hwy 82 east

Crested Butte’s summer wildflowers are incredible. So are the aspen groves you’ll pass through on the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, including the dirt Kebler Pass. Hit pavement again in Paonia. Mount Sopris is a beauty to welcome you through Carbondale and on to Aspen.

The Southern Route

From the Southeast: Hwy 160 at Walsenburg, Hwy 285 north, Hwy 82 west

If you’re coming from places south and east—looking at you, Texans—string together pieces of four scenic byways: Highway of LegendsLos Caminos AntiguosCollegiate Peaks and Top of the Rockies over Independence Pass. Don’t miss the unique Great Sand Dunes National Park along the way.

The Desert West

From the West: I-70 east, Hwy 191 south, Hwy 128 north

Break up the monotony with a detour through Moab’s mountain biking mecca and the otherworldly landscape of Arches National Park. Loop back to the interstate by following the Colorado River, and taste Colorado wine country in Palisade back on I-70.

Whatever route you take, you’ll savor the Limelight’s casual luxuries when you arrive. Sip your favorite beverage in The Lounge and swap stories from the road. What’s yours? Tell us about your favorite Aspen scenic drive.


About Kelsey Anderson

Kelsey is a Midwest native who currently resides in Colorado. She spends her weekends hiking, biking, and checking out local eateries. Her favorite things to do in Aspen are hiking around Maroon Bells, jamming at Belly Up, and exploring the latest restaurants.