Denver, Colo. to the Grand Canyon Road Trip

By Staff ,

Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Grant Ordelheide

Discover hot springs, ruins and the Old West on this 1,375-mile road trip.

Trip Overview

There are few road trips that take you to the base of 14,000-foot peaks, the heart of red-rock canyons, the front door of ancient ruins, the rim of the Grand Canyon and the rejuvenating waters of Colorado's hot springs like this one. 

Start in Denver before heading west to Glenwood Springs to take a dip. Farther west and south explore ancient ruins and artifacts in the Mesa Verde National Park area. Cross into Arizona, stopping at Flagstaff, a university town, and then the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. 

On your way back, visit Farmington, N.M., before heading to Durango to take a historic train to one of Colorado's most scenic towns, Silverton. Take a dip in Pagosa's hot springs and explore Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Some of our favorite roadside stops follow in the next several pages.  

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Road Trip Itinerary

Start: Denver, Colo.

Have lots of time? Before you head west, make a side trip to Rocky Mountain National Park just 1.5 hours from the Denver International Airport. Read more on our Rocky Mountain website.

Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Glenwood Springs hot spring pool. 

Grant Ordelheide

8 Hot Spring Soaks Between Denver and the Grand Canyon
Colorado is dotted with incredible hot springs and steamy pools. Dip into some of the state's best on your road trip from Denver to the Grand Canyon.
Read more.

Four Corners

The Cliff Palace tour at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. 

Grant Ordelheide

6 Four Corners Gems in Mesa Verde Country
From a thriving restaurant scene to our nation’s ancient history, Cortez, Mancos and Dolores offer more than just uncrowded trails.
Read more.

Canyon Country Discovery Center
Explore Canyon Country with hands-on educational experiences about the Colorado Plateau through interactive learning exhibits, and field trips.
Read more.

Grand Canyon South Rim

Sunset at Desert View Point in Grand Canyon National Park

Deposit Photos

48 Hours in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Get ready for adventure. Here are some of our favorite things to do while at the South Rim from biking in solitude to exploring some of the rim’s most historic treasures.
Read more.

Farmington, N.M.

Valley of Dreams Badlands in New Mexico's Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness near Farmington

4 True Treasures near Farmington
Ancient history, a local brewery and an overnight in a cave make Farmington a great stop on your way to or back from the Grand Canyon.
Read more.

Durango, Colo.

Durango at dusk

Photo by Mike Alcott courtesy of Durango Area Tourism Office

Best of the West 
Durango offers an amazing downtown, great food and a ride on a steam train, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Read more.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Sunset at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Grant Ordelheide

Sandy Getaway
Bring your sled and your beach umbrella to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve 37 miles from Alamosa, Colo. From here, you can explore the tallest sand dune in North America. High Dune on First Ridge is a two-hour, 2.5-mile round trip walk up 699 feet of sand. Sled down for a faster descent. Be sure to bring a lot of water, start early and wear closed-toe shoes as sand temperatures can reach 150F mid-day.
Read more on our Rocky Mountain website.

End: Denver