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Scenic Drive to Telluride, Colorado

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.

Rock formations along Colorado Scenic Byway Unaweep Tabeguache, Highway 141

As you continue on, you’ll see rock formations quite like the ones you’d see in Colorado National Monument.

Red Rock cliffs Rock along Colorado Scenic Byway Unaweep Tabeguache, Highway 141

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.

Horse in Gateway, Colorado

Heading out of Gateway, the landscape is still stunning. I just love the blue skies contrasted with the rocks.

Red Rock Plateau in Gateway, Colorado

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.

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway in Colorado, Highway 141

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway in Colorado, Highway 141

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway in Colorado, Highway 141

Eventually the red canyons give way to more rounded hillsides while the landscape opens up to wider vistas.

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Byway in Colorado, Highway 141

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.

Colorado Highway 145 en route 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.

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, Colorado

Almost to Telluride!

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway near Telluride, Colorado

We arrived in Telluride just as the sun was setting.

Main street in Telluride, Colorado

Final Thoughts

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

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3 Responses to Scenic Drive to Telluride, Colorado

  1. Paul June 7, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Thank you for the insight. I’m making this drive next week!

    • Kim June 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      You’re welcome, Paul! I hope you enjoy the drive.

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