There are multiple routes you can take to experience all that Summit County, Colorado has to offer. This particular route is one of my favorites to drive during the fall but you can’t go wrong doing it anytime during the spring, summer, and fall months. For Slingshot drivers and Motorcycle enthusiast, this route offers a variety of fun, turn heavy roads along with long stretches of open highway to cruise on with very little traffic.
From our shop in Eagle-Vail, you will head south on HWY 24 towards Minturn and Leadville. As you head up to Leadville, you will pass the ghost town of Gilman, you will drive over the famous Green Bridge and all the while you will be tracking along the steep walls of the canyon. As you make your way past the Green Bridge, you will pass by the historic 10th Mountain Division site known as Camp Hale. There are numerous plaques along the road that detail the history and there is also a World War ll memorial a few miles up the road.
Past the memorial you will find yourself on a long, straight stretch of road which is the last stretch before Leadville. To your right (South West) you will have open views of Colorado’s tallest peak – Mt. Elbert along with its second tallest peak – Mt Massive. At the juncture of HWY 24 and HWY 91, you will want to make a left turn. Heading North East, you will pass through the Ten Mile Mountain range where you will find a couple of pull-off locations that offer mountain lakes along with some short hiking paths. As you make your way to Copper Mountain you will want to take I-70 East Bound towards Frisco.
You will be on I-70 for about six miles and the stretch of highway is known as Officers Gulch. To your right you will have great views of the Sky Chutes and Ten Mile Mountain Range along with the Ten Mile Creek. The Ten Mile Range is home to Breckenridge Colorado. The mountains are named Peak 1, Peak 2, Peak 3, etc. Peak 1 is the first peak in Frisco (not counting Mt. Royale and Mt. Victoria - both smaller in size). Breckenridge lives on Peaks 6-10 with an expansion set for Peak 5 sometime in the near future. On your left side through Officers Gulch, you will be passing Wichita Peak and as you come up on the Frisco exit you will have views of the Ptarmigan Range, and two 14ers – Torreys and Grays Peak.
Exit at mile marker 201 and make a right. You are now on Main Street in Frisco Colorado. Having lived in Frisco for close to 10 years, I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite towns in Colorado and it also offers some great spots for lunch including the Frisco Marina if you want to relax by the water. At the main intersection of Summit and Main, you will want to make a right and head towards Farmers Corner – home to the Summit County High School and some great fly fishing. The light at the high school is where you want to head left. This will put you on Swan Mountain Road. Swan Mountain is a fun road to drive but be careful as it tends to have a lot of road bikers on the shoulder. At the summit of Swan Mountain there is a parking lot and it offers a paved bike path and a short hiking path (dirt). It is worth stopping and walking down the path to snap a few photos. You’ll have great views of the Lake and of Red Peak, Buffalo Mountain, Wichita Peak, Peak 1 – Peak 14 (4th of July Bowl) and Ptarmigan Ridge.
As you get back on the road, you are going to head to the main intersection of Swan Mountain and Highway 9. At this point, you can go left or right. For this tour, I wanted to suggest that you head up through Keystone and out towards Montezuma. The road up to Montezuma in the Fall months is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. It winds along the Snake River and is very rarely traveled. Once in Montezuma, you simply turn around and head back from where you came. You’ll pass the same intersection and just go straight, towards the town of Dillon. You need to pass through the first Dillon light and head down to the second light – at the shopping center. Hang a left to get on the Dillon Dam Road. The road will take you along the reservoir and you will finish at the Summit Blvd and I-70 intersection. At this point, jump back on I-70 and head to Vail. You will head over Vail Pass which offers a great viewing area at the summit rest stop. As you head down the pass, you’ll want to stay on the highway until you reach the Minturn exit. At Minturn, veer off the highway and make a left – our shop is just a mile up the road.