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The trail is still in use today, but as the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, taking travelers through a history-laden slice of Colorado.
At certain points, you can even see the wagon ruts of original pioneers winding their way through the prairie grasses.
Tundra with brush no higher than a few feet is a contrast to the granite peaks of the Rockies that loom like immovable giants.
Distance: 48 miles (one way)Route: Estes Park to Grand Lake Travel time: 2–3 hours The original Santa Fe Trail carried pioneers and traders hundreds of miles over the prairie to points west during the 1800s.
Distance: 133 miles (one way)Route: Whitewater to Placerville Travel time: 3 hours The Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway charts a course through an area that was once a true cultural crossroads.
This route also takes you through the Comanche National Grassland, where the land still grows the original prairie that the pioneers saw when forging through the plains.
Begin your trip in the historic mining town of Idaho Springs.
From town, travel south on Highway 103 to the junction of Highway 5, the entrance to Mount Evans Road.
The byway cuts through a canyon for most of the way and follows the Dolores and San Miguel rivers.
Through the years, these rivers slowly ate away at the soft sandstone creating the flattop canyon through which you'll ride.