No matter where you begin your tour of the Collegiate Peaks Byway, you will be ushered into one of Colorado's most scenically spectacular, historically rich and recreationally diverse areas. This paved 57-mile route parallels the Continental Divide at the foot of the Sawatch Range, the highest concentration of 14,000+ foot peaks in the country. The greater part follows the Arkansas River, the most commercially rafted river in the nation, a world-class kayaking destination, and one of the state's premier trout fishing resources.
The byway offers unfolding views of impressive peaks, intermittent stretches of lush riverside, fishing and boater access points, national forests and public lands, active ranches, and a variety of natural hot springs, all combining to define the scenic, recreational and geological contrasts that are the Upper Arkansas River Valley. The state gemstone, the aquamarine, is mined on Mt. Antero. The classic mining towns of Vicksburg, Winfield and St. Elmo are accessible from the byway, and the communities of Poncha Springs and Buena Vista are historically rich and vibrant, while the town of Salida boasts the largest historic district in the state.