- This byway leads through southwestern Colorado in the region where the ancestral Pueblo civilizations once made their homes. (These cultures were once referred to as Anasazi. Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning the ancient ones or ancient enemies and may be considered offensive by some modern Pueblo people.)
From Dolores, where the Anasazi Heritage Center is located, the byway leads southwest and northwest. It follows the path of State Highway 145 south to its intersection with U.S. Highway 160 and Cortez. In Cortez visitors can choose to travel east to the entrance of Mesa Verde National Park along Highway 160.
The Trail of the Ancients byway leads south from Cortez along U.S. Highways 160 and 666. Mesa Verde lies to the east of this route with Sleeping Ute Mountain to the West. At Chimney Rock the highways divide and the byway follows U.S. Highway 160 west toward the Four Corners Monument. This route connects with Utah's Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway.
If traveling along the scenic byway north from Dolores follow State Highway 184 northwest out of town. This highway shares this route with U.S. Highway 666. To follow the byway travel to the crossroads of Pleasant View and turn west on Montezuma County Road CC. Close to the end of this road is Lowry Pueblo, an ancient ruin designated as a National Historic Landmark. From Road CC turn left on to County Road 10, which will take you to Hovenweep National Monument and the Utah State Line.
Recreation - This route provides 114 miles of scenic driving through Colorados arid southwestern corner. This route is a good place for road biking, photography and archaeology. The land north of Dolores is part of the San Juan National Forest and provides ample facilities for a diverse range of activities.
Climate - Climate conditions in Colorado should be taken seriously throughout the state. Snow and ice are common on roads and trails from mid-October through late April. In the summer months snow is still possible but less common. Varying conditions throughout a given day can be expected throughout the year. Remember that summer days can typically have beautiful sunny mornings and short sudden thunderstorms in the afternoon. Please prepare appropriately for your outdoor experience.
This scenic byway is located in the southwestern section of the state. It travels through the Dolores and Mancos River drainages.