Guanella Pass Scenic Byway
Now fully-paved, enjoy a winding road connecting Georgetown and Grant
|Mileage||23 miles (37 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||50 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||Spring, Summer, and Fall|
|Roadways||Geneva Road, and Guanella Pass Road|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, pharmacies, etc.||Central City, CO▼, Empire, CO▼, Georgetown, CO▼, Idaho Springs, CO▼, North Colorado Springs, CO▼, and Montezuma, CO▼|
3.9 average from 18 votes
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Once an old wagon route that linked the mining communities of Georgetown and Grant, the now fully-paved road unfurls like a ribbon, with curvy roads and a series of exhilarating hairpin turns. Enjoy unparalleled mountain and valley views, and diverse landscape as you travel from forested lowlands to a fragile tundra landscape above the timberline. Along the way, recreation opportunities abound with hikes for every ability, biking, fly fishing, rafting, and camping. Prepare for the weather as higher elevations can be much cooler and windy. Depending on the weather, the road may be closed in winter. Be sure to check road conditions before heading out.
Nestled in a valley at an elevation of 8,530 feet, Georgetown offer a bevy of activities, restaurants, and lodging, which makes it a great base for exploring the region. The historic town of Georgetown was established in 1858 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and was developed further during the Colorado Silver Boom. Stop in the Gateway Visitor Center (I1) for information and exhibits. Before heading out on the byway, here are a few not-to be missed Georgetown sights.
Stroll the downtown and admire the Victorian architecture. The Hotel de Paris Museum (M3) now preserves the grand hotel built between 1875 and 1890. Discover period furnishing, art, artifacts, elaborate woodwork, and the story of those who wined and dined amid European flavor in the center of Colorado mining country. There is an entrance fee.
Built in 1867, the Hamill House Museum (M1) was the Country style Gothic Revival home of silver miner William Hamill. Take a guided tour that explores the well-appointed home, luxurious furniture, and out-buildings such as the carriage house and six-seater privvy. Hear the bell that rings on the hour and half-hour? It’s coming from the bell tower of the striking white and black Alpine Hose 2 Museum (M4) built in between 1875 and 1880. On the National Register of Historic Places, the fire station was instrumental in protecting the mining town from fire. Learn more about the early days of firefighting in Georgetown. There is an entrance fee that is valid for both these museums.
Georgetown Energy Museum (M2) is an operational hydroelectric plant, now over 100 years old. Learn how electricity is produced, examine antique equipment, photos and more. Knowledgeable docents add to the experience. Admission is free, donation appreciated.
Step back in time on the Georgetown Loop Historic Railroad (A5). Simply an engineering marvel, the narrow gauge route connects Georgetown and Silver Plume. Climb aboard a steam locomotive and enjoy majestic views, especially in fall, when golden aspens dazzle. Choose from a variety of tour options including the chance to take an underground tour of Everett or Lebanon Mines. Open Memorial Day to the end of Sept. There is a fee for tours.
In winter, Silver Plume is a haven for skiers and snowboarders. The Loveland Ski Area (A6) offers premier skiing along the Continental Divide. Loveland features 9 lifts, rental shops, restaurants, bars and on-mountain cabins. Further south, Arapahoe Basin Ski and Snowboard Area (A4) boasts some of the highest skiable terrain in North America. Summer offers hiking on wildflower-strewn trails, chair lift rides, and special events.
Our drive finally begins. As always, drives can be done in either direction but we describe this byway heading from Georgetown to Grant on 381 South. Though a mere 22-miles leave time to navigate the road which can be challenging and of course to take in the jaw-dropping vistas.
Try your luck trout fishing in Clear Lake. Clear Lake Campground like many others on the route, such as Guanella Pass Campground, are first-come, first-served, with just a handful of sites and primitive amenities. Stellar views make it all worthwhile.
The road zig zags, climbing over 3,000 breathtaking feet before arriving Guanella Pass Summit Area. At an elevation of 11,668-feet, stop here for postcard-worthy photos of Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt, picnicking and hiking. Wildflowers dot the hillsides, revealing a fragile alpine tundra ecosystem. Please stay on the trail to protect the delicate flora. Three trails leave from here, the South Park/Square Top Lakes Trail which is a 4.3-mile round trip, the 14-mile Rosalie Trail, (no need to walk the entire trail) and the Mount Bierstadt Trail. Mount Bierstadt looms at an impressive 14,060-feet. The first mile is easy for every level, and you will be rewarded with heart-stirring views in every direction. Bonus is, you can brag that you hiked a Fourteener! Above the treeline the air is thinner, and the weather can change in an instant. Be prepared with a jacket and 10 essentials if hiking a long distance, and be alert for lightening.
The road continues to Grant. Duck Creek Picnic Area is a shady spot to relax, snack, and take in the grandeur. Nearby, is the Geneva Park Campground. As the road continues, you’ll see Burning Bear Campground, and from here you can access the the Burning Bear Trail, Abyss Trail and Rosalie Trail.
This side of the pass is popular in winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Seasonally, explore miles of off-road trails for OHVs.
Arriving in Grant, you’ll find refreshments, lodging, and ranches, Grant also borders the Pike National Forest which offers excellent hiking trails and camping.
Return to Georgetown by backtracking on the byway to the next adventure on the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway.