Colorado is an year round vacation destination for avid travellers. The dramatic landscape and natural beauty of the place has piqued the imagination and inspired souls of anyone who spends even a few days there. From rocky mountains to rivers, streams and the high desert of Colorado Plateau, the state is nothing less than absolutely stunning!
So if you too are planning a trip to Colorado, make sure you have the following 12 things on your list.
1. Mesa Verde National Park
Located near the towns of Cortez and Mancos, Mesa Verde was home to the ancestral Pueblo from 600 AD to 1300 AD. There are thousands of archeological sites that lie within the park, with cliff dwelling being the most spectacular - especially, the Cliff Palace. The park allows access to the actual ruins of most sites and lets you experience a dramatic setting that once was reality. There are a number of hiking trails - ranger led and without that you can take to turn this visit into a true adventure.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most popular national parks in the United States, the Rocky Mountain National Park is just a few miles away from the Estes Park town. From mountain peaks, alpine lakes and meadows, forest and an abundant wildlife, the park surely has a lot to showcase nature at its best. The park itself has over 100 peaks that are as high as 14,259 feet (Longs Peak). If you’re lucky enough, you’ll surely be spotting elk, bighorn sheeps, deer and other critters here.
3. The Garden of the Gods
Registered as the National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods is a spectacular place to see. It is a unique landscape of jagged stone towers and fins that seem to be jutting out of land up to 300 feet high. There are giant boulders and rock piles around them, making it an even scenic view to capture. The park is popular for rock climbing, but also offers other activities like road biking, horse riding and Segway tours.
4. Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gage Railway
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gage Railway is one of the most popular tourist attractions in southern Colorado in summers. The historic train runs day trips up the valley from Durango to the mining town of Silverton - hence the name! The landscape view from the train as you chug away is an experience you don’t want to miss.
5. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Steep cliff walls rising up from the Gunnison River, creating a dramatic canyon, the Black Canyon gives you the aura of still being an undiscovered destination. The depth of the canyon is around 2000 feet! Once you’re here, you’ll simply want to gaze over the canyon, appreciate the natural beauty, wander along the paths or take a short hike up the trails and try to capture as much of the expanse as possible.
6. Colorado National Monument
A landscape of huge rock spires, cliff walls, canyons and desert like areas surrounded by bushes and small trees, the Colorado National Monument is located nearby Fruita. A lot of people drive through the monument along the Rim Rock Drive. The road is very popular for biking in the area. There are also a number of day hikes that give you access to some of the most scenic areas of the monument.
7. Dinosaur National Monument
If you’re a Jurassic Park fan, then you certainly need to visit the Dinosaur National Monument. Located in the northwest Colorado, the monument is a perfect mix of the dramatic natural scenery and cultural history of the state. There are dinosaur remains embedded in exposed rock walls proving their existence in the area. The petroglyphs give you an insight into the culture of the people who lived here a long time ago, truly taking you all the way back in time.
8. Fruita Mountain Biking Trails
Those of you who love mountain biking or want to try it out once, Colorado is the place to be. There are great biking trails all over the state, but the town of Fruita by far has the most friendliest one - only in terms of the climate, mind you! The most notable trails here include 18 Road Trails and the Kokopelli Loops.
9. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
A unique sight in Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to the tallest of sand dunes in North America, with mountains in the distance creating the perfect backdrop. The 750 foot Star Dune here is sure to leave you awestruck - especially if you plan on climbing it! You’ll see a lot of tourists challenging their boarding skills gliding down the sand dunes here and some simply enjoying the walks.
10. The Million Dollar Highway
If you’re the kinds who enjoys a good old long drive along countrysides, The Million Dollar Highway is where you need to turn to. The spectacular scenic drive surrounded by mountains and cliffs, stretches from the mining town of Silverton, up to the town of Ouray. A 46 kilometer two-lane highway, this is one mountain drive you’re never going to forget.
11. Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness
Colorado is known for the spectacular mountainous landscapes, but Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness showcases the best of the state. It gives you the chance to get out of your car and walk right into nature with 175 miles of trails that let you explore the terrain. If you’re up for it, there are also day hikes and backpacking areas here. With activities like mountain biking, fishing in summers and skiing, snowmobiles and more in winters, this place is certainly Colorado’s playground!
12. Mount Evans
Mount Evans reaches up to 14,271 feet and is another one of Colorado’s fourteeners. But what’s really worth experiencing here is the Mount Evans Scenic Byway that extends up to the summit. It is the highest paved road in the United States and is sure to give you an adrenaline rush. The views from the top of this mountain are of course breathtaking. There is also a chance of seeing the local wildlife here - especially the bighorn sheeps.
Colorado is sure to leave you rethinking where you want to make a travel plan to next. It is an experience that will leave you absolutely awestruck.
Time to pack your bags and get going!