Want to hit the road over Memorial Day weekend? The Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways Program is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2019. The first five byways were dedicated in 1989; 21 more have been added since then, and they cover every corner of the state.
“Over the span of three decades, some byway names have become legendary, such as the San Juan Skyway, Alpine Loop and the Highway of Legends,” says Lenore Bates, program manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation. “The initial byways roster envisioned between fifteen and twenty routes, but the Scenic Byways Commission settled in with 26 of them. They are truly the best of Colorado.”
The most recent byway, added in 2014, is “Tracks Across Borders,” which follows the creation and development of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad — the state’s first, and ultimately the nation’s largest, narrow-gauge railroad system — and links two of Colorado’s existing historic narrow-gauge railroads: the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, part of the San Juan Extension built in the early 1880; both will be up and running by this weekend.
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The route is also close to the Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center on Highway 159 at Fort Garland, which will be hosting its 31st annual Memorial Day Encampment, complete with a Regimental Ball on Saturday, May 25; call 719-379-3512 for more information.
If you’re stuck in town this weekend, you can still get a feel for the open road at Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways, a pop-up photography exhibition created in partnership with Colorado Creative Industries; the show was at the State Capitol this spring and will open at the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, on Saturday, May 25.