Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
The Peak to Peak Highway is a designated Scenic Byway. It begins as CO Highway 7 in Estes Park,passes Lily Mountain and Twin Sisters, then turns south just past Allenspark on CO Highway 72, goes to Nederland where it continues south on CO Highway 119, through Blackhawk, through Clear Creek Canyon and down to I-70. Click to see Map.
There were many gold mines along Highways 72 and 119. The mine tailings (scrap rock from the mines that was dumped down the side of the mountain) are visible from the small town of Ward down past Blackhawk. Weekend prospectors still dredge for golden flakes in the creeks. There are a few old mines along the way that allow the public to pan for gold in the creek---for a price, of course. Children find panning exciting whether they find gold or not.
This is a lovely drive, passing interesting sites and places along the way. Gravel roads crossing the main highway lead to ghost towns at Hesse and Apex; others lead to high country lakes. There are many aspen stands, so it is a golden marvel in the fall. From Estes Park to I-70, the Peak to Peak Highway is about a 3 hour drive. Established in 1918, this is Colorado's oldest scenic byway.