Before you get out on the Lariat Loop, leave Golden and drive through Clear Creek Canyon on US 6 West from central Golden. Stay on that route all the way to I-70 for a quick trip back to Golden or opt for the scenic route back. On Day Two, spend the day exploring locations on the Lariat Loop new Golden.  In addition to historic sites, everybody has to tour Coors Brewing Company.  On Day Three, it’s time drive the rest of the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, through Evergreen and Morrison, ending at the stunning Red Rock Amphitheatre.

Highlighted Attractions

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks is perhaps the best known of Denver’s parks. Native Americans thought it was magical and early pioneers staged concerts here taking advantage of the natural “bounce” rock that Mother Nature placed behind the stage. The curving wood benches and red sandstone stairs were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941. The Beatles were the first rock group to perform here, followed by lots of famous name musicians. There are also exhibits of the 70-million-year-old rocks, which once formed the beach of an ancestral sea covering Colorado and Kansas.

Boettcher Mansion

Dating from 1917, the Boettcher Mansion began as Lorraine Lodge, the former summer home and secluded mountain top retreat of Charles Boettcher. The structure looks down over Denver from a large plate glass window to take advantage of the commanding view. Separated from his wife, at age 66 and having made a fortune from selling hardware, manufacturing Portland cement, processing sugar beets and raising cattle, it was time for some rest and relaxation which Boettcher enjoyed for the next 30 years. The family rooms include a cathedral-beamed living room flanked by a dining room and sitting porch, a downstairs master bedroom suite and upstairs bedrooms.  with a shared bath and sleeping porch. The Gazebo offered shelter for picnics and hunting and the Well House provided water to the rocky site.

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Even though Buffalo Bill is best known for his Wild West Show in Wyoming that reaped more than a million dollars each year in profits, it was his request to be buried on top of Lookout Mountain. His funeral in 1917 was the largest in Colorado history. His grave and museum, with exhibits covering Buffalo Bill’s entire life, are located on one of the mountain top parks owned by Denver.

Coors Brewery

No one should visit Golden without touring the Coors Brewery, the largest single-site brewery in the world which still stands where Adolph Coors set up shop in 1873. A 30-minute tour takes you through the brewing process, malting and packaging. At the end you can enjoy sampling the great beer. 

Hiwam Museum

A summer camp built by Denver aristocrats in the 1890s, Hiwam Museum was originally Camp Neosho, the home of Civil War widow, Mary Neosho Williams. She hired a Scottish carpenter to convert the simple log structure into a summer cottage that ultimately became a 25-room hand-hewn log lodge in 1942. Overnight guests stayed outside the house in tents equipped with wood floors, stoves and double canvas walls. When she passed in 1938 the house was sold to Tulsa oilman, Darst Buchanan whose wife renamed it Hiwan Ranch after Buchanan’s Hiwan Hereford cattle renowned throughout the country.

Golden Historic District Walking Tour

As the territorial capital of Colorado and a hub of activity in the late 1800s, Golden has a remarkable historic district and eight historic neighborhoods.  The self-guided Golden History Walking Tour (pdf included with the detailed itinerary), guides you through these fascinating locations, ranging from cobblestone streets and territorial capital buildings to wild west saloons and high style residential areas.  If you would rather have a guide, you can sign up for the Wild West Walking Tour.

Clear Creek Canyon Drive

You can make the drive through Clear Creek Canyon a whole day experience if you choose. In one of the narrowest, steepest and most dramatic canyons in Colorado you might see rafters, kayakers, fishermen, and even panning for gold. If hiking is in order, stop at the Mayhem Gulch Trailhead, 12 miles west of Golden, and hike on the Peaks to Plains Trail. At the junction with Hwy. 119, you have the option to go north to Black Hawk, the largest gambling center in Colorado, and on to Central City, once called the “richest spot on earth.” With 30,000 residents Central City was the largest gold rush boom town in Colorado in the 1870s. Above the town with beautiful brick and stone Victorian buildings, you’ll find historic graveyards, old mines and ghost towns. Southwest of Central City, look for signs for the Virginia Canyon Road, known to locals as the “Oh My God Road.” Legend has it that it got its name from stagecoach passengers looking down at the sheer drop offs and moan, “Oh My God!” Go slow, pause on the narrow turns, and follow the signs for Idaho Springs, another old gold mining town. From there, you can take I-70 to return to Golden or go back through Clear Creek Canyon, viewing the dramatic rock formations from a different direction.

Humphrey History Park

Kinnikinnick Ranch was established in 1878 by John Clarke to meet Denver’s growing demand for lumber. The small homestead cabin he built still exists as the oldest part of the house. Lee and Hazel Humphrey bought the ranch in 1921 after Lee became head of the copy desk at the Rocky Mountain News. He became known as Denver’s first commuter, driving a Model T named Mary Ann for two and a half hours daily to reach the copy desk in Denver. At the time of his death in 1946, the Rocky Mountain News estimated that he had driven over a half a million miles – just to get back to the family he loved. 

To experience all that the Denver Double Scenic Drives tour has to offer, click below to purchase the complete itinerary! By purchasing this tour itinerary, you'll receive a professionally crafted trip route allowing you to fully experience the incredible story of the byway! Included in your trip planner is a detailed map of the area attractions in geographic order, a suggested day-by-day route plan, as well as traveler-tested recommendations for dining, shopping, and accommodations for each segment of this epic journey. Contact the National Travel Center with any additional questions.