Seeing the Rocky Mountains is as much a part of great American travel as cruising the PCH or complaining about TSA lines. But unlike most American travel experiences, there's no specific way to "do" the Rockies. Sure, you can go skiing in Breckenridge or spend a few days in Rocky Mountain National Park. Even then, what you see is limited, and so is what you learn. To get the real feel for what these mountains are, and how people have lived there, take the drive from Denver to Telluride.
For the geographically ignorant -- aka everyone, including myself -- Telluride is nowhere near Denver or the other Colorado mountain towns you may have heard of (check out our interactive map at the bottom of the article). It’s about seven hours away, in the far southwestern part of the state, a couple of hours from Four Corners. And while driving there via I-70 and US-50 might be faster, the best route is on US-285 through the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. It takes a little longer, but the payoff is in the spectacular scenery, quirky little towns -- including the real South Park -- and an eerie, abandoned motel. After a single day's trip, you'll emerge with intimate knowledge of America's greatest mountain range.