Length: 57 Miles Driv­ing time: 90 Min­utes

West of 105 Magazine - - Outdoors -

As the name of this scenic by­way sug­gests, sev­eral of the peaks in this col­lec­tion of gi­ants are named for prom­i­nent uni­ver­si­ties. In fact, nine in this col­lec­tion are over 14,000 feet and to­gether make up the largest con­cen­tra­tion of 14ers in the US as well as be­ing part of the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide. The spec­tac­u­lar drive is as short as it is amaz­ing and will take you through one of the state's most beau­ti­ful ar­eas that is both rich in his­tory and also of­fers a bounty of recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Start at the foot of the Sawatch Range in Sal­ida. Af­ter you've wan­dered around the town's his­toric district - the largest in the state - you can ei­ther drive west to Pon­cha Springs or fol­low the Arkansas River (the most com­mer­cially rafted river in the en­tire coun­try) north, re­turn­ing to your start point us­ing the other route. Al­ter­nat­ing be­tween dis­tant moun­tain peaks and the banks of the Arkansas, the route of­fers plenty to see and do, in­clud­ing long-aban­doned min­ing towns and ex­cel­lent beer at El­e­va­tion Beer Com­pany in Pon­cha Springs and Ed­dy­line Brew­ery in Buena Vista.

Weary trav­el­ers might want to con­sider stop­ping for a few hours (or a night) near Mount Prince­ton. With sev­eral hot springs and places to spend the night (in­clud­ing the beau­ti­ful Mount Prince­ton Hot Springs Re­sort and Deer Val­ley Ranch), it is worth con­sid­er­ing be­fore head­ing to the quaint com­mu­nity of Buena Vista the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

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