Went to Telluride for the weekend, and instead of the usual route from Grand Junction, went via a side route through the canyons. My wife generally rolls her eyes and asks sarcastically "Where are we going NOW?" whenever I pull off the established routes, but by the end of this one even she was surprized and happy we had done it. It adds on about 30 miles and 45 - 60 minutes to the trip from Grand Junction, CO to Telluride but the scenery is worth it.
The Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway starts at the town of Whitewater, about 7 miles south of Grand Junction, and skirts the northern and western ends of the 100 mile long Uncompahgre Plateau. Turn west off of U.S. HWY 50 onto Colorado state Hwy 141 at Whitewater. At first the route is unexceptional, but after about 5 minutes you begin to get a taste of the canyon area you're heading into. Soon canyon walls are towering above you all around. At the town of Gateway the highway turns south and follows the Dolores River up through it's magnificant canyon to the confluence of the Dolores and the San Miguel. Just north of Uravan, the road begins to climb the canyon wall and at this point there are some wonderful overlooks of the canyon below, right along the road. Be careful though - most of the overlooks are not protected, and one mis-step can lead to a long fall.