The Broadmoor Hotel


Road Tripping

Jacket, check. Sunglasses and sunscreen, check. Sunny outlook, check! We’ve got some great suggestions for your next Colorado road trip.

The month of May heralds graduations and Memorial Day, and typically signifies the start of summer. For many, summer break is the perfect time to plan a getaway on the open road. A great vacation that you can take in our state of Colorado is the quintessential summer road trip. 

A few fast facts about driving in Colorado:

  • It takes about 6 hours to drive north to south across Colorado, as it spans about 380 miles
  • Colfax Avenue stretches 53 miles and is the longest continuous running commercial street in the United States. Many motels lined the long stretch of road for summer road trippers
  • The Highest Paved Road in the United States is in Colorado, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway—which climbs up to 14,258 ft.
  • The Ford F-150 is the most popular car in Colorado as of 2022 according to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles

We are delighted to share some items from History Colorado’s collection that will hopefully inspire a road trip destination for you in our amazing state!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

This photograph by Fred Payne Clatworthy from 1949 shows three women wearing bathing suits.

This photograph by Fred Payne Clatworthy from 1949 shows three women, one of whom is identified on the photo slide mount as "Wanda," wearing bathing suits. A black rock formation is prominent in the background. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is not the widest or deepest canyon, but others do not have that combination. 

History Colorado. 96.174.4933

Visit the North Pole

A billboard reading "Visit the North Pole, home of Santa's Workshop! US 24, at the foot of Pike's Peak."

Opening back up this week for the 2023 season, The North Pole is the home of Santa’s workshop and is a delightful stop along I-25. Opened in 1955 and designed by Arto Monaco—who was a former Walt Disney artist—The North Pole is set on 25 acres at the base of Pikes Peak. This photograph of the road sign was taken sometime between 1962 and 1980 and is part of the Tom Magee Road Poster Collection.

History Colorado. 92.467.2.67

The Broadmoor Hotel

The Broadmoor Hotel

Colorado Springs is home to the illustrious Broadmoor, which was purchased in 1916 by Spencer Penrose to rival European resorts. Here, one can golf, go to a five-star spa, fine dine at a number of restaurants, and spend countless hours on the resort doing a variety of activities. Located five miles to the west of Colorado Springs, this could be the perfect final destination after a long road trip.

History Colorado. 2019.13.575

Royal Gorge and World's Highest Suspension Bridge

Royal Gorge and World's Highest Suspension Bridge

No summer road trip stop is a real stop unless you get out of the car, stretch your legs and take in the scenery. Why not do that while enjoying the breathtaking view at the Royal Gorge? The bridge rises 956 feet above the Arkansas River and spans 1260 feet. The grand opening of the bridge was December 8, 1929 and has been an excellent attraction for travelers for almost 100 years!

History Colorado. 2019.13.4559

Gold Panning, Clear Creek Canyon

Gold Panning, Clear Creek Canyon

A summer vacation activity (and road trip destination) that could be quintessentially Colorado is gold panning in one of our fabulous creeks or streams. The 1859 Gold Rush changed Colorado’s landscape forever and gold panning is still something folks can do today. Whilst locations vary, this image of Clear Creek Canyon (and, according to this postcard, the place where gold was first discovered in Colorado) may give us some inspiration! 

History Colorado. 2019.13.5217

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado is home to four national parks, and is always a key destination for a summer road trip. The Colorado Mountain Club have felt that Rocky Mountain National Park is a splendid place to road trip, as seen by the Smedley group documenting their drive here, seen in 1913. (You could always do a double stop and enjoy an evening at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, on the eastern side of the park!) 

History Colorado. 83.495.1.130

Trail of the Ancients

Trail of the Ancients

This National Scenic Byway will take you through several archaeological sites of the Ancient Puebloan people. You will pass through Hovenweep & Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments before heading to Mesa Verde National Park where you can get a guided tour of the largest cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace. Heading South, you’ll pass through Ute Mountain Tribal Park before ending at Four Corners National Monument. 

History Colorado. 85.76.14

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument

Located in northwest Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument will give you the opportunity to see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils in situ on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall. While exploring the rest of the monument, you will see petroglyphs from Indigenous peoples who lived in the region and hear stories about homesteaders and outlaws who found a home in the area. 

History Colorado. 86.270.73

Grand Mesa Moose Day

Grand Mesa Moose Day

Take a trip to Grand Junction for the Grand Mesa Moose Day during the summer. This is a one-day, free event for all ages where you can see moose displays, view moose in the wild, take a hike with a wildlife officer, and participate in several activities for kids and families.

History Colorado. 2019.13.8825

Yampa Valley Crane Festival

Yampa Valley, Steamboat Springs, Co.

At the end of the summer, travel to Yampa Valley in Steamboat Springs to witness hundreds of Sandhill Cranes stop over during their southward migration. Attend talks by expert speakers, see live raptors, participate in several different activities, and more. You won’t want to miss this incredible natural sight!

History Colorado. 2019.13.7246

Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway was built in the late 1880s and is considered the most beautiful road in America. The most popular stretch is between Silverton and Ouray and is only about 25 miles long but can take nearly an hour to drive. This road is not for the faint of heart and whoever is driving will have to make sure to keep their eyes on the road. While beautiful, the highway has little to no guardrails or shoulders and features a steep drop off the side. 

History Colorado. 86.161.58

The Paint Mines

The Paint Mines, Calhan, Co.

The Paint Mines are located northeast of Colorado Springs and are named for their colorful clays that were once used by Indigenous people for paint. There is evidence of human occupation of the area as far back as 9,000 years ago. A great place to go hiking and spend a day surrounded by some of the more interesting geological formations in the state.

History Colorado. 2019.13.5160

Check out more of History Colorado’s collection at the Stephen H. Hart Research Center