Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway (Guanella Pass Rd/Co Rd 381) goes 23 miles from the Georgetown, an historic silver mining town, over the mountain to the town of Grant on US 285. The road follows an old wagon route, so expect lots of tight curves and steep drop-offs from the edge of the road.
The road climbs to 11,700 feet above sea level, and the views of 14,060-foot Mount Bierstadt during the ride are terrific. The Aspen trees are golden in the fall.
It’s normally open from late spring to mid-fall and is a favorite with hikers and bikers. (If you’re going to enjoy any sports, remember you’re in the mountains and take appropriate clothing.) Drive slowly and watch out for the bicyclists.
You can turn this into a driving loop if you take I-70 from Denver, stopping to explore Idaho Springs and Georgetown, which is at the base of the pass. Drive over Guanella Pass and you’ll reach Hwy 285. If you turn right it’s about a 45-minute drive over Kenosha Pass, with its spectacular views, to Fairplay. If you turn left on Hwy 285, it’s about an hour’s scenic drive back to Denver.