People in Monument don’t get to Woodland Park too often. You have to drive all the way down to south Colorado Springs, and then up through Ute Pass. Google Maps is telling me it’s only 33.4 miles, but as you can see on the map below, it’s quite a drive for two places that, as the bird flies, really aren’t that far apart.
There is a shorter route, however. If you’re not in a hurry, and you want to get from Monument or Woodland Park to the other side of the mountains, you can drive Mount Herman Road (Road 320), connect with Rampart Range Road and take pretty much a straight shot across the mountains. It’s a gorgeous drive, and you’ll get great gas mileage since you can’t drive very fast!
We’ve taken this route a couple of times, and you definitely get better views while driving if you take it from Woodland Park to Monument. There are some fabulous views of Pikes Peak to be seen while you’re driving the eastward route, and as you emerge from the mountains, you can catch some amazing and uncommon views of the Air Force Academy, the eastern plains, and the cities of Colorado Springs and Monument. Go in the morning when the skies are typically clear – storms roll in during the afternoon and make it hazy, even if it does rain (as above).
The terrain around Mount Herman is full of huge, smooth rock boulders, and there are several spots with large boulders easy enough even for kids to climb on.
There’s a few miles on the east side of Mount Herman Road that are pretty rocky, and if you start on that side, you might consider turning around. It does get much better after those first few miles – it’s not that rocky the whole way. There are several places where the road is washed out pretty bad, but nothing that should be a problem as long as you’re not driving 55 MPH up here. Our minivan has gone both west-to-east and east-to-west on this road and made it just fine. Remember that this road has two-way traffic!
Mount Herman Road meets up with Rampart Range Road, which you can take south to Woodland Park, or north up to Denver (note: we were up there the other day and Rampart Range Road headed to Denver was closed because of wet conditions).
To us, this is one of the best things about living in Colorado Springs – even if you can’t take a full week-long vacation, there is so much to do around here, you can just take a one-day vacation and see so much! People from all over the country (and the world!) travel to Colorado to ski, hike, bike, rock climb, and drive the mountain roads. Steve Garufi (the “Colorado Guy”) has a site with more pics of Mount Herman, and lots more info on Colorado hikes and back roads!