Lariat Loop: A 40-Mile Scenic Byway and Its Attractions


The Lariat Loop, a 40-mile Colorado scenic byway, offers a captivating journey through the foothills of the Rocky Mountain region near Denver, Colorado. This designated National Scenic Byway showcases the state’s natural beauty, rich history, and diverse recreational opportunities, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Colorado experience.


  • The Lariat Loop is a 40-mile Colorado scenic byway located in the foothills near Denver, Colorado.
  • The loop features several must-visit attractions and historic places, including Lookout Mountain, Red Rocks Park, and the Buffalo Bill Museum.
  • Visitors can enjoy numerous recreational activities, such as hiking, biking, and taking in scenic overlooks.

Historical Significance of Lariat Loop

The Lariat Loop historic byway boasts a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. The route was originally part of the Denver Mountain Parks system, developed between 1912 and 1941 to promote tourism and outdoor recreation in the area. The loop played a significant role in the growth of tourism in the early 1900s, attracting visitors with its stunning mountain vistas and unique attractions.

Conservation efforts have been a priority along the Lariat Loop scenic byway, with initiatives aimed at preserving the natural and historical integrity of the area. These efforts have contributed to Colorado’s overall commitment to environmental conservation, ensuring that future generations can enjoy the beauty and significance of this iconic byway.

Attractions Along the Lariat Loop

The Lariat Loop Scenic Byway is home to a variety of natural, historical, and cultural attractions that showcase the best of Colorado. Some of the most notable natural attractions include:

  • Lookout Mountain Park: This iconic peak offers panoramic views of the surrounding foothills and the Denver metropolitan area.
  • Red Rocks Park: Known for its stunning red sandstone formations and world-famous amphitheater (more on this to come), Red Rocks Park is a geological wonder.
  • Bear Creek Canyon: Bear Creek Canyon offers a scenic drive along Bear Creek Road, extending from Morrison to Idledale and then on to Evergreen.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Lariat Loop also features several historic places and cultural sites, such as:

  • Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave: This museum pays tribute to the legendary frontiersman, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and offers exhibits on the history of the American West.
  • Morrison: This historic town, located along the loop, is known for its charming main street and proximity to dinosaur fossils at Dinosaur Ridge.
  • Red Rocks Amphitheater: Renowned for its breathtaking natural red rock formations and exceptional acoustics, the Red Rocks Amphitheater stands as a globally acclaimed outdoor venue.

Recreational Activities on Lariat Loop

The Lariat trail offers a wide range of recreational activities suitable for all ages and interests. Hiking and biking enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to explore the area’s trails, including:

  • Matthews/Winters Park Trail: This popular trail offers scenic views and varying levels of difficulty for hikers and bikers.
  • Apex Park: With over 10 miles of trails, Apex Park is a favorite among mountain bikers and hikers seeking a challenge.

Families will also find numerous activities along the loop, such as:

  • Parks and picnic areas: The Loop features several parks and picnic areas along the Lariat trail area that are perfect for a family outing.
  • Educational programs: Many of the attractions along the loop offer educational programs and exhibits suitable for children and adults alike.

Seasonal Events and Activities

The Lariat Loop offers a variety of attractions and activities throughout the year, ensuring that visitors can enjoy the byway no matter when they choose to visit.

Summer is a popular time to explore the loop, with warm weather and long days perfect for hiking, biking, and picnicking. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre or attend special events like the Buffalo Bill Days celebration in Golden.

Winter brings its own set of activities, such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the area’s trails. The holiday season also features festive events, like the Olde Golden Christmas celebration in downtown Golden.

Planning Your Visit to Lariat Loop

When planning a trip to the Lariat Loop national scenic byway, consider the following tips:

  • Best Times To Visit: The loop is accessible year-round, but the best times to visit depend on your preferred activities. Summer is ideal for hiking and outdoor recreation, while fall offers stunning foliage and cooler temperatures.
  • Travel Tips: The Lariat Loop is easily accessible from Denver, with most attractions located within a short drive of the city. Visitors can opt to drive the loop in a standard car, although an SUV may be more comfortable on some of the winding mountain roads.


What is the best time of year to visit the Lariat Loop?

The best time to visit the Lariat Loop depends on your interests. Summer is perfect for hiking and outdoor activities, while fall offers beautiful foliage and cooler temperatures.

Are there any entry fees for the parks along the Lariat Loop?

Some parks and attractions along the Lariat Loop may charge entry fees, while others are free to visit. It’s best to check with individual attractions for specific fee information.

What are some recommended spots for dining near the Lariat Loop?

The towns along the Lariat Loop, such as Golden, Morrison, and Evergreen, offer a variety of dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants.

Can the Lariat Loop be driven in a standard car, or is an SUV recommended?

While the Lariat Loop can be driven in a standard car, an SUV may be more comfortable on some of the winding mountain roads.

Are pets allowed in the parks along the Lariat Loop?

Many parks along the Lariat Loop allow pets on leashes, but it’s always best to check with individual parks for their specific pet policies.


About the author

Shannon Persad

As a seasoned journalist and Colorado native, I bring a deep-rooted connection and comprehensive understanding of Colorado to my work at My appreciation for the state’s rich history, vibrant culture, and pressing environmental issues drives my commitment to exploring its evolving landscape—from the bustling urban centers to the tranquil mountain towns.