Summer is fast approaching! And you know what that means — summer vacations!
If you’re looking for somewhere fun with lots of magnificent outdoor locations and activities, think about going to Colorado, which is savagely dramatic in winter — you know about the skiing and the glorious snow drenched mountains and mountaintop towns like Aspen — and gloriously accessible and pure-aired in the spring and summer. (It’s beautiful in the fall too, for the record.)
Colorado is rich in natural beauty and famous for its hot springs. The Rocky Mountains run through it and the average altitude is 6,800 feet.
Here are the top ten outdoor destinations in Colorado, the so-called Centennial State!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is the nation’s third-most visited park. The park sits near Denver, which makes it convenient to get to from all over the country.
If you’re up for a hike, Chasm Lake is a beautiful alpine-like lake hidden within a glacial cirque. The Nymph, Dream, and Emerald lakes are popular hikes as well, which allow you to see some magnificent geology.
The Wild Basin contains dramatic mountain vistas, waterfalls, flora and fauna to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of the park.
Telluride is a small town, but it thrives on the outdoor fun and activities it has to offer. Its big draw is its ski slopes, sporting over 2,000 acres for skiers to tackle. The terrain is great for everyone, from beginners to experts.
The town also has beautiful trails for hikers and cyclists. If you want fun even higher in the air, there’s opportunities to enjoy some paragliding.
Telluride has plenty of festivals during its warmer months, dedicated to food, music, and film.
Visiting Colorado Springs will allow you to have access to some of the best hiking trails in the state. The city hosts outdoor activities any adventurer would love, including whitewater rafting in the Royal Gorge in Fremont County, hiking in Garden of the Gods Park, and cycling on the Barr Trail. If you love wildlife, the nearby parks will give you your fill.
Colorado Springs is rich with art, and art lovers can enjoy art walks in town to take it all in.
Vail is one of the world’s most popular ski resorts. During the warmer months, it has other attractions that warrant a visit: mountain biking, phenomenal hiking, plenty of golfing, and, of course, the ubiquitous whitewater rafting.
Vail also hosts many music and dance festivals. The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival features orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, that perform at the outdoor Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The International Dance Festival and the Vail Jazz Festival are popular draws.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park, a free attraction, is one of the most unique places in Colorado. The park’s dunes are the biggest in North America, standing up to 750 feet tall. The park allows visitors to bring a sled or snowboard and cruise down them.
The park offers picnicking, hiking, and camping opportunities. And its elevation and rural location, thus undimmed by light pollution, make it a prime location for stargazing.
Boulder is near Denver and is a bit smaller. However, it has the Rockies and Flatirons as a backdrop and visitors can experience both. The city has excellent trails for hiking and biking. Nature lovers will feel at home surrounded by the natural beauty that permeates the city.
Boulder Creek is perfect for tubing, if you’re looking for something to do in the water. And there’s the city itself to explore.
Aspen is known for some of the best skiing in the country, and is a classic, old Western town. There’s more to do here than just hit the slopes, though. During the summer, people can ride the Aspen Mountain Gondola. Photography buffs will be able to catch stunning views of the city and the surrounding view.
Aspen also offers whitewater rafting, horseback riding, fly fishing, hot air balloon rides, and fly fishing. Sample some of the city’s local craft beers. Go on. We just gave you permission.
Steamboat Springs is also known for its skiing and snowboarding. Once the snow melts, however, the town’s beauty comes alive. The warm weather puts the wildflowers on display across the sea of green around the city.
Take a trip to the Yampa River to fly fish, or enjoy inner tube rides and rafting. After a good hike or some mountain biking, check out the natural hot springs to soothe your by-now sore muscles.
Late June/early July is when the town hosts its Hot Air Balloon Rodeo — just let those words sink in and imagine what that might be — and Art in the Park festival. You’ll be able to see colorful hot air balloons, over fifty art vendors, and have food, drink, and live entertainment. Seriously, see you there.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park focuses on human history as its main attraction. Cliff Palace is the park’s big draw. There is a complex of very sophisticated cliff dwellings built by the Anasazi, a native American people also known as the Ancestral Puebloans. These structures date back to 1190 AD, five hundred years before Columbus discovered the Caribbean.
Chapin Mesa also houses some of the best known cliff dwellings in the park. Long House is another location to see them.
Grand Junction is close to two notable attractions, which makes it an excellent stop on road trips for motorhome owners —Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa are short drives away from the city.
Grand Junction is also a thriving arts community. The city has one of the largest outdoor sculpture collections in the country.
And Grand Junction is within Colorado’s wine country! At last, we’re getting to the good stuff! You’ll have the chance to try the area’s locally grown wines, and you can tour the vineyards in the area. That’s a very valid outdoor activity!