Colorado has a rich cultural history and numerous natural destinations that make it the ideal place to spend a vacation or holiday any time of year. Whether you are with your family or friends, you’ll love this great list of things to do in Colorado.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Encompassing 265,807 acres of land-, this national park is home to a range of mountains, rivers, and wildlife. Rocky Mountain NPS features 300 miles of hiking trails and homes to rare animals like elk, mountain goats, and marmots. To check its sixty mountain peaks, which are about 12,000 feet high, you’ll need to plan a week or more.
Planning a National Parks road trip? The America the Beautiful Pass covers entrance for an entire year to all the US National Parks and over 2,000 federal recreation fee sites. Fees are covered for everyone in the car for per-vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites. This is a no-brainer, friends. While fees vary, you’ll likely break-even after two visits. Plus, REI will donate 10% of pass sale proceeds to the NPS Foundation.
BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
Black Canyon is home to one of Colorado’s steepest cliffs. Here, you get a chance to observe some of the oldest rocks and hiking trails. The park covers around 30,750 acres of wilderness and is home to the 48-mile long Gunnison River.
COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
You’ll find this national monument near the city of Grand Junction. This is a part of desert land with sheer-walled canyons cut into granite and sandstone, forming gneiss. Spring is the most appropriate season of the year to visit this place because you don’t have to worry about the scorching sun or freezing nights.
DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is home to a plethora of scientific knowledge and natural history and is located in the Rocky Mountain region. Spread on 716,000 sq feet, the building houses one million objects related to library resources, anthropological materials, historic items, etc. The biggest tourist attractions are IMAX Theatres and year-round science exhibitions.
DILLON ICE CASTLES
This event features flowing fountains, ice slides, ice-carved tunnels, frozen thrones, and ice objects with unique colors. This ice castle is made from thousands of icicles that are handcrafted and hand-placed by expert ice artists. Make sure to check out all the icy caves and tunnels. (Note these were postponed in winter 2021/2022)
DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
You might think this is in Utah, and you’d be right. But it’s also in Colorado, where to states meet. What is it? A dinosaur graveyard… preserved in 1915 to protect Dinosaur Quarry. Visible remains of the dinosaurs, such as fossil beds, prove that they once lived here. This recreational park has also preserved scenic canyons of the Yampa and Green rivers.
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: DOG SLEDDING
Dog sledding is one of the most popular winter activities in Colorado. You can feel the icy wind on your face as friendly, energetic dogs whisk you across the Snow Mountain Ranch in Grandy, Colorado (where it’s most popular.) It’s the best way to explore Breckenridge’s surroundings and get the most out of Colorado winters. Pricey? Yes. but worth it.
DURANGO AND SILVERTON NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD
Enjoy vintage train rides any time of the year. The railroad operates 45.2 mi of track from Durango to Silverton. You can enjoy breathtaking views on the 3-and-a-half-hour ride.
ESTES PARK AERIAL TRAMWAY
It is a tram that takes you to the summit of Prospect Mountain. This is a European-style cable car that operates from May to early September. When you reach the top, you’ll find a coffee shop, restroom, and gift shop. For wildlife lovers, you can encounter some of the local animals along a few trails. This place is present at an elevation of 9,000 feet, so make sure to stay warm.
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: TELLURIDE
As a world-class ski resort, it offers a premier skiing opportunity. Visitors can also benefit from a massive golf course and impressive natural beauty. Outdoor activities and a variety of festivals offer tourists a memorable experience. To get the most of every feature of the Telluride, visit the place in mid-June to august and mid-November to April. But be ready to find throngs of visitors, as many people across the world come to see cultural festivities.
BRECKENRIDGE SNOW SCULPTURES
If you are organizing a winter trip, then Breckenridge’s International Snow Sculpture Championship should be on your bucket list. It’s a world-famous competition and teams travel from around the globe to participate. Sculptors use massive amounts of snow to create massive sculptures, similar to cliff dwellings and cliff palaces, except that they’re made from snow.
Recommended Tour: Full-Day Breckenridge Mountain Explorer Tour
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: GHOST TOWNS
There are several ghost towns in Colorado that offer a glimpse of history. This includes Independence, Capitol City, Carson, Teller City, Ashcroft, and Animas Forks.
There are plenty of fascinating ghost towns all over the state. Some of them are abandoned due to economic struggles or mining, while others are abandoned due to natural forces like unbearable winters. One of the most popular and must-visit ghost towns in Colorado is Deerfield.
GARDEN OF THE GODS
Spread across the 1,376 acres of land- the best way to explore Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is via a hike. There are 15 miles of trails, allowing you to get a good view of the entire place. You can hike on paved walkways or directly on rocky hills. The place is popular to look at beautiful rock formations. In fact, several ancient tribes lived in this area.
Recommended Tour: Foothills & Garden of the Gods: Jeep Tour
GLENWOOD SPRINGS HOT SPRINGS
You can find this resort within walking distance from downtown Glenwood Springs. Pass a pedestrian bridge and walk a few kilometers more to book your room at the resort.
Built in 1977, it offers a pool lobby, bathhouse, and retail shop floors. You might be surprised to know that the resort is geothermally heated on colder days by a gravity flow system. The astonishing part is that the system doesn’t require energy-consuming devices and pumps.
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: GRAND LAKE
Adjacent to Arapaho National Recreation Area, the town has been dubbed the ‘Snowmobile Capital of Colorado’ due to its access to Colorado’s largest network of groomed snowmobile trails. This town is also named for the lake, the largest body of natural water in the state. It’s also home of the highest altitude golf course with grass greens.
GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE
This American national park preserves 750 feet tall sand dunes and is present in the south-central region of Colorado. Visitors are allowed to explore and climb any part of the 30 miles of the park. However, summers are the season to do so, especially in the evening or mornings, because you can avoid high surface temperatures.
You can find this 7-miles long lake near the east of Glenwood Springs. This lake was made when the geological fault moved the lake bed down the valley. Water flows through Bridal Veils Falls in the hanging lake, which makes it more appealing.
Flatirons are the slanted, reddish-brown sandstone structures present at in Boulder. They have 50 to 60 degree slopes, which make them perfect for hiking. The slab-like peaks of the Flatirons are an epic hike for outdoor-lovers.
ICE CLIMBING IN OURAY
Colorado is also home to several man-made recreational parks- Ouray Ice Park is one of them. It is an ice climbing venue and is at a walking distance from Ouray. You can enjoy ice climbing from December to mid of March. Ouray Ice Park also organizes three to four-day festivals in winter to teach visitors about ice climbing.
ICE FISHING IN FRISCO
During the winters, catching fish in Frisco is the most entertaining activity. The upper layer of the lake turns into ice in the colder season. You need to drill a hole and you can catch as many fish as possible. Winter fishing is a given, but these alpine lakes are still frozen in late spring…you’ll just drill your hole a little closer to shore.
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: LORY STATE PARK
With 26 miles of trails, this place is the best to enjoy both long and short hikes. Mountainous hillsides and rolling valleys are great to enjoy a horseback ride, mountain bike ride, and trail run experiences.
MANITOU CLIFF DWELLINGS
It’s a rare historical treasure and home of over 800-year old Anasazi cliff dwellings. This fascinating architecture by the Ancient Puebloan stays open for tourists all year-round. If you want to explore the place entirely, you will need more than 2 and half hours.
MAROON BELLS SNOWMASS WILDERNESS
This is one of the five landscapes in Colorado that was designated as wilderness in the 1964 Wilderness Act. They cover river and forest, which total about 181,535 acres of land. More than 320,000 people visit the area every year during summer. The name comes from the two mountain peaks offering a colorful show in spring.
MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
For around 700 years, people built communities in the cliffs of Mesa Verde, which is now a tourist attraction. This park has preserved 5,000 archeological sites. It’s a great place to visit if you want to explore the Ancestral Pueblo’s cultural artifacts and how they lived. Be sure to stop in the Visitor Center.
MOUNTAIN BIKE FRUITA
Fruita is considered one of the best biking destinations in the United States. This is because of its combination of terrain that challenges even expert riders. You can take a ride on the 18 Road Trails to observe peaceful and beautiful views from the mountains.
MUELLER STATE PARK
It is a Colorado state park that covers 5,112 acres of land. There are several outdoor activities available, such as hiking, hunting, camping, and horseback riding. Not to mention, there are 55 miles of trails, wildlife, and conifer forests so spectators can take in the beautiful views.
PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY
You might have heard its name, as it is one of the 54 fourteeners around 14,000 feet above sea level. This is a designated National Historic Landmark made from pink granite. Not only can you hike up the mountains, but you can drive up the mountains as well. But for a memorable experience, take the Cog Railway. The 3.5 hour journey offers views you won’t see any other way.
HORSEBACK RIDING AT A REAL DUDE RANCH
For the best horseback riding experience, a dude ranch is an ideal option. Many also offer fishing, hiking, zip-lining, and western dancing activities. You can also check Eagle Ranch, Action Adventures Trail Rides, and Sage Outdoor Adventures for horseback riding without the overnight experience.
RAFT THE ARKANSAS RIVER
Arkansas River provides an exciting whitewater rafting experience. The rivers drop 5,000 feet near the Leadville after you cover 125 miles of the river. You need the expertise to control your raft in floats and class V whitewater.
RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATRE
Everyone coming to the state has to experience this open-air amphitheater developed in rock before 1941. The Beatles, Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, and Louis Armstrong are world-class musicians who performed between the red rocks.
Behind the Scenes: Red Rocks Amphitheater and Mount Evans Tour
ROYAL GORGE BRIDGE
It is the most adventurous, oldest, highest and famous suspension bridge in America. The bridge is 1000 feet from the Arkansas River and a 10-mile long gorge. Royal Gorge Bridge is one part of the 360 acres of park, which allows you to explore the land. Take the gondola, walk across, ride the zipline, and more.
Skip the lines: Royal Gorge Bridge and Park Entrance Ticket
SAN JUAN SKYWAY SCENIC BYWAY AND THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY
The byway between Ouray and Silverton is known as The Million Dollar Highway. This name was given to the highway because it cost millions of dollars to build it in the 1880s. One of the most popular points of the Byway is South of Ouray, which offers sharp cliffs and rugged peaks. It’s a beautiful scenic drive as your moving from one item on your bucket list to another.
THINGS TO DO IN COLORADO: SEVEN FALLS
Enjoy golden prairies and rock formations as you climb above the 224 steps in the Seven Falls. You can start your journey on high trials or sit and observe glistening streams. It looks like one waterfalls but is truly seven since each “fall” moves into it’s own pool – either way you could it, it’s gorgeous.
Aspen gives amazing skiing options on its four mountains. You can choose any mountains based on your skiing abilities. There are also some ski resorts in the west where you can relax and have lunch before you ski.
STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS
Natural hot springs nestled in the Colorado mountains? Yes please! The stone masonry pools keep the springs looking rustic and charming. Plan to visit for the day, or (if you’re lucky) stay in the lodge overnight. Yes, you can hire a shuttle, but the most rewarding experience is hiking the (less than) 3 miles into the springs.
You can hike, bike, or roam around in the Vail Gondola in Summer months, or take it up for snowboarding in Winter. Enjoy the views above 10,000 ft while sitting in the cable car. You can also find opportunities to go on a fantastic hike or bike-riding adventure while you’re visiting
THE STANLEY HOTEL
A fan of The Shining? This is where to filming magic happened! Take tour, or stay the night in one of the 88 guest rooms that source their energy from the Fall River hydroelectric plant. You can find the hotel near Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
VISIT THE BEST SMALL TOWNS
When you are visiting Colorado, not only do you need to go to the tourist destinations, but you also check out some beautiful small towns. Salida, Silverton, Pagosa Springs, Steamboat Springs, Carbondale, and others are popular for their welcoming residents, amazing food, and exciting festivities.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO COLORADO
- PUEBLO: 13 FUN THINGS TO DO IN PUEBLO COLORADO
- GLENWOOD SPRINGS: 9+ THINGS TO DO IN GLENWOOD SPRINGS
- VAIL: 33 THINGS TO DO IN VAIL THAT YOUR FAMILY SHOULD NOT MISS
- ESTES PARK: 17+ BEST FUN THINGS TO DO IN ESTES PARK
- COLORADO RESORTS: 21 Amazing Colorado Resorts For Every Type Of Traveler
- COLORADO NPS: 13 EPIC COLORADO NATIONAL PARKS
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