US 24 Across Colorado: Wilkerson Pass

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US Highway 24 takes you across the center of Colorado, from Colorado Springs to Buena Vista. Once you’ve left Pike’s Peak behind, it’s a mostly straight-shot across the state through some wide-open spaces. Wilkerson Pass provides a nice scenic spot, where you may catch some fall colors.

My Visit

I had started my day in Colorado Springs, and after a drive along Gold Camp Road to Victor and Cripple Creek, I needed to head west.  I picked up US 24 at Florrisant, and drove through the Pike National Forest.

I didn’t find any excuse to stop and take pictures, until I reached Wilkerson Pass.

Wilkerson Pass isn’t the high point on US 24 — at 9,507 feet, it’s about 900 feet shy of the high point of Tennessee Pass.  But, that is high enough to provide a home for some aspen trees.

Arrive at the right time of year (late September or early October), and you should find a good display of fall colors here.

There is a rest area at Wilkerson Pass, and it’s surrounded by aspen trees, for your photo-taking pleasure.

Yellow leaves and blue sky!

At Wilkerson Pass, you’ll catch your last view of Pike’s Peak (or your first view, depending on which direction you’re headed).  US 24 provides access to the legendary Pike’s Peak Auto Road, which takes you to the top.

Aside from the aspen grove that surrounds the rest area, you won’t find much more autumn color around these parts.  After the pass, US 24 drops down, and makes a bee-line west, then southwest, across a landscape that’s probably flatter than you’re expecting to see in Colorado.

US 24 meets up with US 285 for one final push through the mountains, before arriving…

… at Buena Vista, Colorado.  You’ll find a viewpoint at a picnic area on the hillside, just before you drop down to the town.  That stately mountain in the distance is Mount Princeton (elevation 14,204 feet/4,329 meters), one of the Collegiate Peaks — named in honor of Princeton University (Mount Yale and Mount Harvard are also nearby).

The Bottom Line

US 24 provides a nice drive across Colorado. Parts of it are flatter than you might expect, but you should find some shimmering aspen leaves at Wilkerson Pass.

Location

US Highway 24 in Colorado begins at the Kansas state line, and travels west, through Colorado Springs, past Pike’s Peak, and on to the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista, where it turns north. It ends at Interstate 70, west of Vail.

On this page, we’ll specifically focus on US 24 between Florissant (west of Pike’s Peak) and Buena Vista.

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