Quick Guide: Learn about what Colorado has to offer and explore
Colorado has so many things to do and see that it can be hard to narrow down what you want to do. From wandering through unique towns and cities, to hiking or skiing mountain trails, and rafting down a river Colorado has everything to offer. If this sounds like the place you want to visit, just ask Kat to plan your custom, personal adventure and get started exploring captivating Colorado.
These lists do not, in any way, include EVERYTHING. Colorado is full of so many unique experiences that this blog would go on forever. There are some categories to think about when traveling to Colorado. Each covers some of my favorites to help get an idea of what your future trip could include.
Cities and Towns of Colorado
There are many cities and towns, big and small, in Colorado that all have something unique to offer. Some can be quick one day stops while others will take years to fully enjoy.
Denver - capital of Colorado, is an American metropolis dating to the Old West era
Boulder - at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with trail-lined Flatirons overlooking the city
Colorado Springs - near glacier-carved Pikes Peak with hiking trails and a cog railway leading to its 14,114-ft. summit
Breckenridge - known for its ski resort, year-round alpine activities and Gold Rush history
Steamboat Springs - the city’s geothermal hot springs are said to have therapeutic properties
Glenwood Springs - sits in the rugged Rocky Mountains and rich with wildlife and features Hanging Lake, with its striking turquoise waters
Estes Park - base for Rocky Mountain National Park, home to wildlife including elk and bears, plus miles of trails
Professional Sports Teams to see a game or two
Denver is the smallest city in the country to host 5 major professional sports teams. That should tell you something about the sports fans of this state.
Denver Broncos - compete in the NFL as a member club of the league's American Football Conference West division and play home games at Mile High Stadium
Colorado Rockies - compete in MLB as a member club of the National League West division playing home games at Coors Field
Denver Nuggets - compete in the NBA as a member of the league's Western Conference Northwest Division playing home games at Ball Arena
Colorado Avalanche - compete in the NHL as a member of the Central Division in the Western Conference and play home games at Ball Arena
Colorado Rapids - compete in MLS as a member of the Western Conference playing home games at Dick's Sporting Goods Park
National and State Parks for hiking and more
With 250+ City Parks, 42 State Parks, 29 Recreation Centers, 8 National Monuments, and 4 National Parks, there is more than enough open space to explore and get lost in.
Rocky Mountain Natl. Park - Estes Park - spans the Continental Divide and encompasses protected mountains, forests and alpine tundra. It's known for the Trail Ridge Road and the Old Fall River Road, drives that pass aspen trees, elk and rivers
Great Sand Dunes Natl. Park - Alamosa - known for huge dunes like the towering Star Dune, and for the seasonal Medano Creek and beach created at the base of the dunes
Mesa Verde Natl. Park - Mesa Verde - known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, notably the huge Cliff Palace
Dinosaur National Monument - Dinosaur, CO/Jensen, UT - wild landscapes, topography, geology, paleontology, and history make it a unique resource for both science and recreation
Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs - provides 300ft towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies
Glenwood Canyon - Glenwood Springs - rugged scenic 12.5 mi canyon in western Colorado with walls climbing as high as 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. Hanging Lake hike is in this canyon
Eldorado Canyon State Park - Eldorado Springs - consists of two areas, the Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows encompassing 885 acres with a variety of recreation opportunities available
Rifle Falls State Park - Rifle - central feature of the 48-acre park is a triple 70-foot waterfall flowing over a travertine dam on East Rifle Creek. Commonly seen wildlife includes mule deer, elk, coyote, and golden-mantled ground squirrel
Relaxing Hot Springs
There are around 93 developed and undeveloped hot springs throughout the mountains and along the rivers of Colorado. Some have resorts and spas while others are just free to enjoy in nature.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs - Steamboat Springs - natural hot springs nestled in the mountains of Colorado
Iron Mountain Hot Springs - Glenwood Springs - a therapeutic, natural hot springs resort located on the banks of the Colorado River
Pagosa Hot Springs - Pagosa Springs - natural springs along the Piedra River
Great Sand Dunes Swimming Pool - Alamosa - family friendly oasis in the San Luis Valley with a large family pool, 25-person hot tub, and 2 on-site restaurants. The Greenhouse is an adults-only tropical escape with 4 pools, sauna, and on-site bar
Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs - Redstone - designed around the natural landscape and rock formations of the Crystal River Valley
Ouray Hot Springs Pool - Ouray - 5 hot spring pools are nestled into a valley surrounded by 13,000 foot snow-capped peaks
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort - Hot Sulphur Springs - the waters have been flowing from seven natural springs for hundreds of years and were used for healing by the Ute people
Outdoor Adventures on water and land
The rugged terrain of the Colorado mountains are well known for the limitless, epic outdoor adventures.
Whitewater Rafting/Kayaking - available on the Arkansas, Animas, Cache La Poudre, Clear Creek, Colorado, Dolores, Piedra, Roaring Fork, San Miguel, San Juan, Yampa rivers and more
Ziplining - Many locations ranging from the Royal Gorge west to Durango then north through Glenwood and Steamboat Springs and along the foothills in Castle Rock
Rock Climbing - from bouldering, lead climbing, multi-pitch, and top roping you can find it all around Boulder Canyon, Rocky Mountain Natl. Park, Garden of the Gods, Eldorado Canyon, Rifle Mountain, Clear Creek Canyon and more
Mountain Biking - Literally almost anywhere in the mountains you can do this. Many ski resorts have summer passes to take bikes up so you can go down
Hot Air Ballooning - a unique way to view the beautiful mountains and scenery from Denver, Colorado Springs, Steamboat Springs, Fort Collins, Aspen, and Pagosa Springs
Dog Sledding - want to see a bunch of dogs go crazy wanting to pull you on a sled? Go to Monarch, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Pagosa Springs, Durango and more to enjoy this unique experience
Other unique adventures: Canyoning, Ice Climbing, Snowmobiling, Para/Hang Gliding, Skydiving, Sailing, Ice Fishing, Fishing, Horseback Riding
Hike some of the tallest Mountains
Colorado’s 58 unique 14ers (14,000ft mountains) range in difficulty from easy Class 1 day hikes to overnight Class 4 Climbs. Few try them all but doing at least one is worth the effort and the views.
Pikes Peak - a Class 1 where you can drive or take the cog rail to top or choose to hike the 24 miles
Other Class 1 Peaks - Handies, Grays, Quandary, Mt. Elbert, and San Luis
Mt. Bierstadt - a 7 mile, Class 2 located in the Mount Evans Wilderness of Pike National Forest
Other Class 2 Peaks - Mt. Sherman, 4 collegiate peaks, Mt. Massive, Mt. Evans, Torreys and more
Longs Peak - a 14.5 mile, Class 3 in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park not for novice hikers. Prepare for this hike
Other Class 3 Peaks - Mt. Sneffels, Mt. Lindsey, Mt. Eolus, Crestone Needle, Snowmass and more
Maroon Bells - two peaks, Class 3-4, in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, separated by about half a kilometer
Other Class 4 Peaks - Pyramid, Mt. Wilson, Sunlight, Little Bear and Capitol
Museums to learn a bit more
Wherever you go in Colorado there is bound to be a museum, big or small, to expand your knowledge in history, science or even gain an appreciation for art. Just keep an eye out because some times museums are hidden away in old houses rich with something to learn.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science - with an IMAX Theater, a planetarium and thousands of square feet devoted to science exhibits, you’ll need to schedule more than one trip
Denver Art Museum - collections of more than 70,000 diverse works from across the centuries and world
Children's Museum of Denver - features more than a dozen "playscapes," including a hands-on fire department, an assembly plant for interactive building activities and a tiny veterinary clinic
Meow Wolf - Denver - Surreal, walk-through art experience with many interactive rooms, bizarre sculptures & a story arc
Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum - Denver - located on the former grounds of Lowry Air Force Base and housed in the historic Hangar No. 1, built in 1939.
Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave - Golden - experience the life and times of American legend William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody
Museum of the West - Grand Junction - ride in a stagecoach, fly a 1958 Cessna, gaze upon an Anasazi pot, see real firearms used by outlaws, study ancient rock art, and sit in a one-room schoolhouse to experience western Americana at its best
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery - this museum integrates the history of science and the science of history into an interactive and engaging museum
Zoos and Aquariums to see some wildlife
From native species to exotic creatures from around the world, Colorado is filled with amazing animals in state-of-the-art habitats including tiny frogs, colorful sea life, and giant elephants.
Denver Zoo - an 80-acre zoological garden located in City Park, home to over 550 unique species. You can also enjoy Zoo Lights around the winter holidays
Downtown Aquarium - Denver - expansive complex with a state-of-the-art aquarium housing 500+ species, plus a restaurant (with live mermaids) & lounge
Denver Botanic Gardens - a 23-acre park with a conservatory, variety of theme gardens and sunken amphitheater, which hosts various concerts in the summer. Amazing lights are lit to enjoy around the winter holidays
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs - the highest mountain zoo in America providing many hands on attractions including feeding giraffes all day
Pueblo Zoo - a 25-acre zoo open year-round and home to over 420 animals of more than 140 species
Other unique wildlife encounters at The Wild Animal Sanctuary (home to over 500 lions, tigers, bears, leopards, cougars, wolves and other carnivores), Colorado Wolf & Wildlife Center and the Butterfly Pavilion
Theme Parks for some fast rides
Colorado amusement parks are happy to provide opportunities to dangle upside down from a roller coaster, slip down a waterslide or ride easy on a train ride. All types of thrills can be found across the state.
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park - Denver - wild rides for the adventurous, plenty of slower family rides, an 11-ride water park, an arcade, lots of places to eat and summer concert series
Water World - Denver - one of the biggest water parks hosting six-story-high speed chutes, white-water slides, massive wave pools, a kids’ funhouse and that famous Colorado sun
Lakeside Amusement Park - Denver - old-time park since 1908 the continues to be popular with families thanks to its affordable admission and kid-friendly amusements
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park - Glenwood Springs - the highest amusement park in America providing haunted cave tours, bungee trampoline, laser tag, a maze, alpine coaster, zip ride and much more
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park - Canon City - walk across one of the world's highest suspension bridges above the Arkansas River, and then take in some other thrills, including the world's longest single-span aerial gondola, kids' playground and carousel, zipline and Royal Rush Skycoaster
Great Wolf Lodge - Colorado Springs - indoor water park, lodging, restaurants and other activities mean one-stop vacationing
North Pole Home of Santa's Workshop - Colorado Springs - never lose that special holiday feeling with special visits from Santa, magic shows, goat and llama feeding, the Candy Cane Coaster, an elf show and more than 20 other family rides
Ski Resort fun in winter and summer
With Colorado hosting 32 ski resorts there is no shortage of fun all year round. From downhill skiing/boarding, to hiking and mountain biking, something is always available to enjoy the splendor of the Colorado mountains.
EPIC PASS RESORTS
Keystone - consists of three mountains – Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback – and five Bowls offering skiing at all levels
Breckenridge - one of the most visited ski resorts in the western hemisphere year round
Vail - at 5,289 acres, it is the third-largest single-mountain ski resort in the U.S. featuring seven bowls and intermediate gladded terrain in Blue Sky Basin
Beaver Creek - comprised of three villages, the main Beaver Creek Village, Bachelor Gulch, and Arrowhead to the west. My personal favorite
Crested Butte - provides some very extreme terrain as well as some easier runs that are less vertical
Telluride - has over 2,000 skiable acres and spans between the historic town of Telluride and the modern alpine community of Mountain Village
IKON PASS RESORTS
Arapahoe Basin - home to the famous Bacon Bloody Mary as well as legendary skiing over 'The Pass'
Copper Mountain - has 2,465 acres of in-bounds terrain under lease from the U.S. Forest Service, White River National Forest
Aspen Snowmass - Snowmass the largest of the four Aspen/Snowmass mountains, comprising 3,362 acres
Steamboat - has 169 named trails spread over 2,965 acres with 14% beginner-level, 42% as intermediate, and 44% as advanced. It also contains the premier Mavericks Superpipe
Winter Park Resort - longest continually operated ski resort featuring over 3000 acres of award-winning terrain
Eldora - one of the closest resorts to Denver at a little over an hour and around 30 min from Boulder
There are many more small town ski resorts to explore.