Colorado’s Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway climbs from 4,600’ in elevation to 9,400’ offering up-close views of towering 14,000 mountain peaks. The wishbone shaped byway in southcentral Colorado is 103-miles that includes Hwy-96 and Hwy-165 (including a 16-mile backtrack). The paved, two-lane byway traverses the San Isabel National Forest and Lake Pueblo State Park.
Visitors can expect to see pronghorn sheep and antelopes grazing in the grasslands year-round, and beautiful golden aspen trees in fall. Spring and summer months bring a riot of colorful wildflowers, while snowcapped mountains beckon in the winter. This is the place to breathe fresh mountain air, stand in open meadows and take in Colorado’s stunning vistas.
The history of the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway is like a window into the early days of the West. It tells of Native American culture, fur trappers, early explorers, settlers, miners, farmers, and bustling cities. High country ranches and unspoiled meadows can still be found in this area, holding the history of its beginnings.
The Wet Mountains and Arkansas River Valley have a long history full of romance, adventure, and survival. Visitors are invited to share in the legacy of Pueblo that began as a supply fort on the confluence of Fountain Creek and the mighty Arkansas River. Just to the East are numerous heritage farms that families have worked on for over 100 years. Here you can enjoy roasted Pueblo Chilis and most every restaurant in town has their version of a dish called the “Slopper” – a burger, and fries swimming in green chili and smothered in aged cheddar. Many a celebrity chef have come to share in the legacy and feature this taste of heaven!
A drive along Hwy-96 leads to Pueblo State Park where visitors enjoy many kayaking, boating, hiking, and cycling trails. Follow the famous advice and “go West” further into the Wet Mountains to Custer County and discover the tiny town of Wetmore, which lies on the edge of the Wet Mountains and has a quaint general store. As you drive further up the road to the old mining towns of Silver Cliff and Westcliffe, you will be awed by some of the most stunning views Southern Colorado has to offer. The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains opens here, showcasing several 14,000 mountain peaks of sheer beauty and wonder. You can’t miss the cattle and working ranches all through the valley near Westcliffe. Explore ancient hiking trails, wonderful little museums, and endless views. The nearby mountain towns of Rye and Colorado City hold more opportunities for adventure, with miles of trails to hike and even a medieval style castle to discover.
The Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway is not just a drive – it is an epic adventure into the Old West!