Big Thompson Canyon - A Gorgeous Ride Through Loveland to RMNP

Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park

For years, travelers en route to Rocky Mountain National Park have traded in the speedy arrival for the awe inspiring scenic route. Instead we invite you to trade an extra 15-minutes for one of the most breath-taking drives you'll find anywhere.

Highway 34 runs through Loveland on its way to Rocky Mountain National Park and runs along the Big Thompson River where nature has carved one of its most beautiful works of art; the Big Thompson Canyon! This is the same highway that becomes the infamous Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake. Surrounded by sky scraping granite walls through the Big Thompson Canyon, Highway 34 is more than worth the extra 15 minutes it will take to reach Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

For a map and to see the route from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.

For more pictures, please click here.


Big Thompson Canyon Offers...

The Big Thompson Canyon with it's heavily wooded area, rugged cliffs and high mountains bordering the Big Thompson River offers one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado. However, Big Thompson Canyon offers so much more!

And here are a few of those offerings:

  • Antique Shopping

  • Camping

  • Fly Fishing

  • Hiking

  • Kayaking

  • Picnicing

  • Rock Climbing

  • White Water Rafting

  • Wildlife Viewing

An Overview of the Big Thompson Canyon

The Big Thompson Canyon is an area of vast beauty, attracting vacationers from all over the world. The splendor of the Big Thompson River tumbling through the Canyon is awe-inspiring. Look out points and picnic areas abound, providing visitors ample hiking opportunities, world-class trout fishing and rock climbing. An array of antique shops and other specialty stores are distributed throughout the canyon providing visitors more than the typical outdoor recreational activities. And of course, the majestic scenery with its abundance of wildlife will leave everyone with memories and pictures to enjoy for a lifetime!

If pictures are your keep sake of choice, be sure to have your camera ready as you are likely to see big horn sheep, mule deer and elk grazing in the canyon. All three can be frequently found along the roadside nibbling on the grass. On occasion you may even see a moose meandering through the trees or wading through the water.

The Big Thompson Canyon was formed thanks to the glaciers and tributaries originating the Rocky Mountain National Park.

If you haven’t found your way to Big Thompson Canyon yet, it’s a must see. The canyon provides a direct route via Highway 34 to the ever-popular Rocky Mountain National Park, complete with stunning views of rocky cliffs, raging waters and an abundance of wild life. Along the way, be sure to pull over for a slice of cherry pie at the Colorado Cherry Company, trinkets at the Dam Store or a quick hike at Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park.

The Big Thompson Canyon acquired its name from David Thompson, an English engineer and astronomer. Thompson explored streams and rivers throughout the West in search of trapping camps and named the Big Thompson River after himself when mapping the area now recognized as Thompson Valley, Colorado.