Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2009)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationCO
  • Length40 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway
Statewide Byway Partners
Colorado Department of Transportation
Colorado Tourism
Red Rocks against a stormy skyline reveal ancient formations and color combinations.
Public domain Photo

Overview

Along this 40-mile scenic route, Lariat Loop traverses rich foothills just west of Denver and acts as a reminder of early auto touring. The loop crosses Lookout Mountain through the five-mile Lariat Trail and connects the towns of Golden, Morrison and Evergreen. Lariat Loop offers many attractions, including open parks, museums, and heritage sites, all placed amid canyons and meadows.

Local Byway Partners
  • Care for Colorado Coalition

Story of the Byway

One of the first historic byways in the country, the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway has provided access to foothills scenery and outdoor experience since 1912-1914, when the City and County of Denver built roads to bring residents and tourists to the new Denver Mountain Parks system. Two portions of the roads that make up the byway are on the National Register of Historic Places: the Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive and the Lariat Trail Scenic Mountain Drive, which serve as the south and north entrances, respectively, to Denver’s historic circle drives and the modern byway.

The 36-mile loop runs through the historic towns of Morrison, Evergreen, and Golden, which have maintained their integrity and authenticity over time. These towns supplied the miners and trappers in the 1850s and the early tourists in the early 1900s. Initially, railroads brought tourists to Golden and Morrison, delivering them to the bases of three mountains, where funiculars transported people up to world-class views of the Front Range and the plains. Visit more than three dozen historic sites and buildings that line the route and interpret primary themes of the mountain west, from mining and ranching to homesteads and tourism.

The Loop rests on the edge of the Denver metropolitan area where two million people reside. Within 60 minutes, you can drive from Denver to the top of Mount Evans (elevation 14,265, once the country’s highest auto road), and visit 19th-century mountain towns to learn about pioneer culture and railroad history, learn about the discovery of dinosaurs in the west, or hear a concert at the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. You'll find plenty of recreational opportunities as well, including hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and paragliding. Drive the beautiful Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway for a magnificent experience of narrow mountain canyons with views of the Rocky Mountains and the Eastern Plains.

Driving Directions

From Golden, take Lookout Mountain Road to US-40W, go west on I-70 to Evergreen Parkway and southeast to Bear Creek Road, then continue east to Morrison. From Morrison, head north on Mount Vernon Avenue and continue to County Road 93, then take US-40N to US-6, returning to Golden.

Points of Interest

  • Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre

    Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an open-air amphitheatre built into a rock structure in the western United States, near Morrison, Colorado, ten miles west of Denver.

  • Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

    A park that pays tribute to the cowboy and Indian days with exhibits, events, gift shop and observation deck.

  • Dinosaur Ridge

    Dinosaur Ridge, part of the Dakota Hogback in the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark, is one of the world's most famous dinosaur fossil localities.

  • Denver Mountain Parks History

    Constructed between 1912 and 1941, the Denver Mountain Parks are a rural park and parkway system consisting of 47 foothill and mountain parks interconnected by scenic drives.

  • Colorado Railroad Museum

    The Colorado Railroad Museum is a non-profit railroad museum in Golden, Colorado.

Itinerary

  • Red Rocks to Historic Homesteads

    Start your day at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where you can traverse the stairs, test the natural acoustics, and enjoy the mountain views. Travel up and over the hogback on Dinosaur Ridge to witness historic dinosaur tracks. Stop in the Visitor Center to learn more about the prehistoric area. Travel to Golden for lunch and a tour of the Coors Brewery before heading to the top of Lookout Mountain. Along the way, take a break on lookouts, such as Windy Saddle, where you can witness plains and mountains in one view. Continue along the byway to the historic Hiwan Homestead Museum, a log cabin that reveals how early settlers once lived. Arrive at the Humphrey Historic Park and Museum to visit the home of the first commuters of the Lariat Trail. End your day with a rest in one of the area’s many lodging options.

 Update this byway information today!