After checking out the Colorado National Monument (definitely recommended!) at the beginning of our road trip to Southwestern Colorado, we began making our way to Telluride via Scenic Byways.
Just south of Grand Junction we hopped onto the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway, aka Colorado Highway 141. This isn’t the main route you’d take to get to Telluride if you’re in a hurry, but it’s certainly the more beautiful one.
Starting out, you’ll find these chunky rounded cliffs perched above the roadside.
As you continue on, you’ll see rock formations quite like the ones you’d see in Colorado National Monument.
Gateway, Colorado, is a tiny town but in a gorgeous setting. It’s nestled in a lovely green valley surrounded by red rocky mountains. We detoured off of the main road just slightly to explore the town and said hello to some horses along the way. They were so curious and came right up to us.
Heading out of Gateway, the landscape is still stunning. I just love the blue skies contrasted with the rocks.
The road was practically deserted – we passed maybe 10 cars for the first couple of hours. It’s too bad that more people don’t come here because it’s so pretty.
Eventually the red canyons give way to more rounded hillsides while the landscape opens up to wider vistas.
Can’t exactly say this particular portion of the road was scenic since it was mainly flat farmland. But what I found interesting is that this smallish section is actually atop a plateau, so we soon began a descent into the valley that would eventually lead us to Telluride.
At this point we’re no longer on the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway, but have joined up with the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. Totally different-looking terrain, but beautiful in its own right.
Almost to Telluride!
We arrived in Telluride just as the sun was setting.
This was truly one of the best scenic drives I’ve done in Colorado. The thing about “scenic” roads in Colorado is that the really scenic sections are usually sandwiched between only so-so scenery. Not so much on this route. It was nearly nonstop beauty.
By combining the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway with a short portion of the San Juan Skyway, the drive from Grand Junction to Telluride seemed relatively short because there was always good stuff to look at along the way.
Map of Our Route
Our drive took us about 4 hours, and that’s without making many stops except to take some photos.
The pink portion is the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic section and the blue portion is the San Juan Skyway section.
View Scenic Route from Grand Junction to Telluride in a larger map