Rocky Mountain Ramble | Reader's Digest

Rocky Mountain Ramble

This drive traverses a northern Colorado landscape once trod only by hooves, paws, Indian moccasins, and trappers' boots.

  from The Most Scenic Drives in America

9. Farview Curve
The overlook at Farview Curve perches above the Kawuneeche Valley, carved by a glacier that extended for 20 miles along what is now the west side of the park. Just below, Trail Ridge Road begins a dizzying series of switchbacks as it descends to the flat, marshy valley floor, where the Colorado River meanders aimlessly in braided channels. Kawuneeche is Arapaho for “valley of the coyote”; the wild canines are common here, as elsewhere in the park. Meanwhile, watch the meadows for the stately profiles of moose as they forage for plants.

10. Grand Lake
Rte. 34 leaves the national park — and Trail Ridge Road ends — just beyond the Kawuneeche visitor center. Grand Lake, less than a mile to the east, is Colorado’s largest natural lake. (It is, however, much smaller than its man-made neighbors, Shadow Mountain and Granby lakes.)

The town of Grand Lake was one of Colorado’s first mountain resorts; founded for the well-to-do after the turn of the century, its yacht club is among the highest in the world. Each August, sailors compete for the Lipton Cup, originally awarded in 1912 by Thomas Lipton, the famed tea magnate, who had a vacation home here. Grand Lake’s rustic architecture, featuring logs of lodgepole pine, is a reminder of that genteel era.

11. Tabernash
After skirting Shadow Mountain Lake, Rte. 34 passes between Lake Granby to the east and flat-topped Table Mountain to the west, where Indians mined jasper for tools and arrowheads. The drive then turns south on Rte. 40, passing through Granby and along the Fraser River valley into ranching country. Near the small community of Tabernash are some remarkable views of the peaks of the Continental Divide, less than 10 miles to the east. The solitary rock column called Devils Thumb rises from the crest of the ridgeline, marking the route of a hiking trail over the mountains.