A nice scenic drive begins and ends in the city of Golden, Colorado. The Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway combines history and scenery in the many possible stops along the way. It makes for a nice full day of activities. We decided to drive the loop in a counter-clockwise motion after a day of sightseeing in Golden. Due to our late start, a lot of places were closed but it was still a nice drive.
Lookout Mountain Road
From downtown Golden, we found 19th Street and followed it until it turned into Lookout Mountain Road. As we wound our way up the many turns, we made a few stops to take pictures of the incredible view of Golden.
Buffalo Bill Museum
Our next stop was the Buffalo Bill Museum. Many original items from the legendary Wild West showman’s personal collection were on display. It was very interesting and there were some fun interactive displays as well. Admission for adults is US$5 and it’s open daily from May 1 to October 31 and closed Mondays the rest of the year.
Near the museum is a large gift shop, the Pahaska Tepee, which sells kitschy Wild West and Buffalo Bill souvenirs. They also have a small café in the back.
Up a small walkway from the shop is the grave of Buffalo Bill Cody. His burial at Lookout Mountain was very controversial. It was said that he told friends and family members many times that he wished to be buried there, but many others believed he should be buried in the town he founded – Cody, Wyoming. The controversy continued for many years after his death and still pops up once in a while.
Nearby, we made a quick stop to see the Boettcher Mansion, which was a summer home and hunting lodge built in 1917 for Charles Boettcher. Tours are available on weekdays from 8am to 4pm, but we were a bit late.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
We ended up driving most of the rest of the Lariat Loop as it continued onto I-70 through the pleasant town of Evergreen and onto the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. It’s a nature park full of great hiking trails and rock formations along with a concert venue. There was a concert so we weren’t able to actually get into the park, but the scenery was still phenomenal. I can imagine how amazing of a setting it would be for a concert.
Next, it was onto the tiny town of Morrison. It’s a really nice town with a mountain backdrop. There are lots of great looking restaurants and shops along the main roads. It was getting a bit late, otherwise we probably would have stayed and had dinner.
There are a couple other stops on the way back to Golden, neither of which we were able to visit. One is Dinosaur Ridge, an outdoor museum containing dinosaur tracks and fossils still in the rocks. It’s open daily except Sundays and a guided shuttle tour is US$6. The other is Heritage Square. It’s a family-oriented “village” complete with shops and an amusement park. Admission is free of charge.