The byway includes portions of State Highway 93 between Golden and Morrison, State Highway 74 from Morrison to Evergreen via Bear Creek Canyon, and the same road north to Interstate 70, which bisects the loop. The Lariat Trail connects Golden with the top of Lookout Mountain and Lookout Mountain Road completes the loop back to Interstate 70. This route formed the foundation for the surrounding 150-square-mile (390 km2) area’s designation as a Colorado Heritage Area in 2000; the Byway was so designated by the Colorado Dept. of Transportation and Governor Owens in April 2002. The Lariat Loop connects to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway via Squaw Pass Road.
The Lariat Loop Byway blends natural, cultural, and historic attributes in a route that has been promoted as a tourist destination since 1914 and can be enjoyed in a half-day’s drive from Denver. Along the route are dozens of historic sites, scenic parks, and other attractions (see list below), many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although the Lariat Loop is not listed, it comprises two registered routes, the Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive and the Lariat Trail Scenic Mountain Drive.
The Lariat Loop encompasses parts of Denver’s original “circle drives,” within the unique Denver Mountain Parks system designed by F.L. Olmsted, Jr, in 1914. The diverse geography of the foothills setting offers dense forests, mountain vistas, winding roads, rocky outcrops and ridges, and historic “beauty spots.” Many of these scenic areas have become county or city parks and are accessible to the public.
All roads along the Lariat Loop Byway are accessible via passenger vehicle, with convenient services, year-round. Open Space and Mountain Parks are protected areas and all wildlife and plants are protected.
Lariat Loop attractions include
- Jefferson County Open Space Parks
- Denver Mountain Parks
- Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave
- Lookout Mountain Nature Center & Preserve
- Boettcher Mansion
- Chief Hosa Lodge
- Humphrey Memorial Park & Museum
- Evergreen Lake
- Hiwan Homestead Museum
- Morrison Natural History Museum
- Morrison Historical District
- Dinosaur Ridge
- Red Rocks Park and Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Mother Cabrini Shrine
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
- Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
- Foothills Art Center
- Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum
- Golden Visitors Center
- Golden Pioneer Museum
- Astor House Museum
- Clear Creek History Park
- Colorado Railroad Museum
The entire route is in Jefferson County.