From Nebraska to Utah, Route 6 gives you a taste of all of the wonders of the Centennial State. Begin in the Northeastern corner of Colorado, as Route 6 follows the South Platte River. A cluster of silos at the Grainland Co-Op marks the spot as you pass from Nebraska into Colorado.
If you’re feeling peckish, Bully’s Pub and Grub in Fleming is a northeastern Colorado destination steakhouse. Haxtun serves up Mexican food at the Bar Lo Café. Holyoke’s W. E. Heginbotham House is the city’s public library; go to enjoy its classic Craftsman style architecture.
A bit farther along, in Sterling, you can visit the Overland Trail Museum. Since 1936, it has been helping visitors learn about the history of the Overland Trail. Sterling is the county seat of Logan County, see the impressive Court House and have a meal at Gallagher’s River City Grill, or the Old Town Bistro.
The Fort Morgan Museum Has a lot of information about the region, from the railroads, to the glider school. They also have a working windmill, and some handsome cowboy spurs. The Pawnee National Grasslands begins just north of Fort Morgan. Fort Morgan serves as the starting point for the Pawnee Pioneer Parkway through the Grasslands. Go to see the wildlife, and the gorgeous Pawnee Buttes.
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Your route is also I-76 as you head toward Denver. At Commerce City’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, you can see bison in the foreground and Denver’s skyscrapers in the background. What a great study in contrasts! The Vintage Aero Flying Museum in Hudson is scheduled to open by the end of this month. See it to enjoy WWI era airplanes.
Denver is a major city filled with so many more fine attractions, shops, restaurants and lodging choices than this article can cover. If you are going to do the highlights, we would suggest viewing our Quick Guide to Denver.
At Golden, see the Buffalo Bill Grave and Museum up on Lookout Mountain to hear about this Wild Westerner. While in Golden have a Bob’s Atomic Burger. Lakewood Heritage Center has many fun artifacts of the city’s history. Even better you can find some to take home with you at their 20th Century Emporium Museum Store.
As you continue west, Georgetown is another mining-era town that is filled with lots of character just waiting to be enjoyed. The Dusty Rose Tea Room, and the Whistle Stop Café are among the fine places for a meal. Ride the Georgetown Loop Historic Railroad, and tour the Hotel De Paris and the Hamill House for a flavor of days gone bye.
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Route 6 separates from I-70 after Idaho Springs, an absolutely delightful gold rush era town, with a pretty collection of historic downtown buildings well worth a stop to stroll and shop. The vintage gingerbread cottage style houses are painted bright and happy colors; you will probably find several dozen that you would like to call home. Argo Gold Mine Museum and the Indian Hot Springs nearby are great places to visit and explore. Marion’s of the Rockies has the best breakfast in Idaho Springs.
Experience the mountain glories of Loveland Pass. Be sure to stop at the overlooks to enjoy the views. The pass tops out at an elevation of 11,990 feet above sea level, as you cross the Continental Divide. Loveland is the highest mountain pass in the world that regularly stays open during a snowy winter season. In any season, what a treat to see the hairpin turns, towering Rockies and dramatic valleys, up close and personal from your own vehicle! Soon thereafter, at Dillon, Marina Park is a popular boating spot. Whether you stop at the park or continue westward on Route 6, the views of Lake Dillon there are lovely. At Silverthorne, Route 6 rejoins I-70 and as you pass into Frisco, you can hike to the top of Mt Royal, and see the abandoned Masontown along the way.
Vail is world famous as a wintertime playground. The ski resort city is a winter wonderland, and also a joy in the other seasons of the year. In warmer months, don’t miss the Betty Ford Alpine Garden for a beautiful stroll. Glenwood Springs offers the Hanging Lake Trail, a strenuous hike that provides a great destination, Hanging Lake and its pair of surrounding waterfalls. Then, back in town, soak your muscles in the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool for total relaxation.
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As you continue through the Colorado River Valley you will come to Parachute; enjoy the views of Battlement Mesa, and photograph the old Battlement Mesa School House. “Bookcliffs”, named for lines of sediment and shale that resemble the pages of a book can be seen at Rifle, Rifle Falls State Park offers some lovely waterfalls spilling over limestone cliffs. From here, you can opt to take Old Route 6, which offers super views of the canyon created by the Colorado River, until it rejoins Route 6 proper near De Beque.
“Those who contemplate the #beauty of the #earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of #nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and #spring after winter.” Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. This is hardly a hike. The falls are right at the #park entrance 😻 #rifle #riflefalls #coloradogram #colorado #dnr #statepark #waterfall #wild #theoutbound #getoutside #rei1440project #travel #travelstroke #explore #neverstopexploring #perfectday #solotravel #girlswhotravel #hike #hiking #wild #wanderlust #fernweh
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From there, we highly recommend you consider taking a side trip to Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain in the world. The Grand Mesa Scenic Byway offers incredible views for driver and passenger alike. Now you’d made your way to Grand Junction, popular for its Colorado wineries and microbews.
You may also want to visit Colorado National Monument, with dramatic sometimes terrifying driving, and five-star impressive scenery. Enter the park at the Grand Junction gate and exit from the Fruita gate. Next, the Rattlesnake Arches Trail is located in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area near Grand Junction and Fruita. The trail is a 15-mile strenuous trip, recommended for skilled hikers only; it leads to a cluster of dramatic red sandstone arches. At Fruita, you can have a nice view of the Colorado River on a quick side trip, on the bridge south of town.
Pass through Loma and Mack, then into Utah on Route 6.
Download our free complete Route 6 eBook that includes maps and details of all the destinations you will pass through on this scenic route. These details include local attractions, history, dining and more that you’ll have the opportunity to experience when passing through or staying overnight before continuing your drive. In addition, you can download a printer-friendly version.