Trail of the Ancients highlights the long and intriguing occupation of the Four Corners region by Native American peoples. This route takes you to remote archaeological sites and significant cultural and historical sites in Southwest Colorado. The area encompassed by the Trail of the Ancients is truly “the archaeological heartland of America.”
What you need to know:
- The only National Scenic Byway totally dedicated to archaeology
- The Byway inspires you to get out of your care and explore Distance: 114 miles with some gravel surfaces
- Great jumping-off point is Mancos, Colorado the “Gateway to Mesa Verde” and a trailhead connector to the San Juan Skyway and also Utah’s portion of Trail of the Ancients.
- What you will see on your journey:
- Mesa Verde National Park which is a mere 7 miles west of Mancos
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Ute Mountain Tribal Park
- Yucca House National Monument
- Sand Canyon Trail, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
- Cortez Cultural Center
- Lowry Pueblo in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
- Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
- Galloping Goose Railcar and Museum
The San Juan Skyway is recognized as the premier byway in Colorado and is also listed as a National All-American Road. Mining towns and alpine splendor await you on this stunning adventure across high mountain passes in the shadow of impressive 14,000-foot peaks. The Skyway runs through the same canyons and valleys once traversed the narrow-gauge rail lines that transported miners and ore to and from remote mining camps. The segment from Ouray to Silverton is known as the “Million Dollar High” because and gold and silver mill tailings were used in its construction. But, you can’t put a price tag on this experience.
What you need to know:
- Towns to visit and explore on your journey: Mancos, Cortez, Dolores, Telluride, Ridgeway, Ouray, Silverton and Durango.
- Special features: Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez Cultural Center, Anasazi Heritage Center, Four Wilderness Areas, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a mining exhibit on the north side of Red Mountain pass.
- Distance: 236 miles
- Drive time without stops: 7 hours but you will want to stop
- Most beautiful time of the year to travel: the fall when the aspens are at their peak
- Be sure to check road conditions for winter driving
- Intersects with part of the Colorado portion of Trail of the Ancients