Covered in snow capped peaks and dotted with quaint towns, a Colorado vacation offers something for everybody who wants to get away from it all.Â Use the guide below to help you find out what towns to visit and what attractions to see.Â
Visit Colorado's Cities
A great place to start your trip is in Coloradoâ€™s capital city.Â Be sure to browse the collections of the Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Art Museum, or take in a show at the Denver Center for Performing Arts.Â If you like to shop and people watch, stroll down Denverâ€™s mile long pedestrian mall on 16th Street.Â For the sports lover, be sure to check out one of Coloradoâ€™s sports teams at Coors Field, the Pepsi Center, or Mile High Stadium. Â Finally the thrill seekers can have their roller coaster fix at Elitch Gardens right in downtown Denver.
Just a 30 minute drive from Denver, Boulder feels like a whole world away.Â This small city grew up around the architecturally marvelous University of Colorado, which definitely deserves a walking tour.Â Summer guests can attend the Shakespeare Festival while winter visitors can take a short drive in the mountains to Eldora ski resort.Â A hike in Chatauqua Park at the base of Boulderâ€™s famous flatirons is a must for any visitor.Â Also be sure to walk Boulderâ€™s Pearl Street Mall, which features some of the best shops and art galleries in the state.Â In the middle of the summer, the Pearl Street Mall is hustling and bustling with people, culture, and exciting street performers.Â
At the foot of famous 14,000 foot high Pikeâ€™s Peak, Colorado Springs offers visitors a wide array of attractions.Â A trip to the newly renovated Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center museum and theater should be on the itinerary.Â The Air Force Academy, featuring a world famous chapel, Â is a great destination for young and old alike.Â No trip to â€œthe Springsâ€ would be complete without a drive or hike through the Garden of the Gods, which contains beautiful red rock outcroppings with the breathtaking views of Pikes Peak in the background.Â Other great destinations just outside Colorado Springs include the family friendly North Pole, where you can visit with Santa year round, and Cave of the Winds.Â
Colorado's vast national parks offer a perfect gateway to this state's open spaces.Â For most of the 20th century, Rocky Mountain National Park and Mesa Verde were the only two national parks in the state, but around the turn of the millennium, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Great Sand Dunes were added to the mix.Â Together, these four national parks offer some of the most breathtaking sights in the United States.ÂRocky Mountain National ParkCredit: Garrett Adrian Photo
Rocky Mountain has something for everyone--the leisurely hike to the waterfall, technical climbing up a sheer rock face, and majestic vistas viewed from the comfort of a car.Â Visitors could spend a day in the park but certainly would not get bored with an entire week spent exploring.Â Popular destinations include Trail Ridge Road, Longs Peak, and Bear Lake.Â Crowds can be avoided on the west side of the park, which is every bit as beautiful as the more popular east side.Â
This national park contains the remarkably well-preserved cliff side ruins of the Ancestral Puebloans.Â Â Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House are the most popular destinations in the park, and the Balcony House is a fun trip for those who want to conquer their fear of heights.Â A trip to the more remote side of the park on Weatherill Mesa will leave many of the crowds behind.Â
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Located outside of Montrose, Black Canyon of the Gunnison cuts through 12 miles of a steep, narrow gorge that makes the Grand Canyon look like an open valley. Â Be sure to take the scenic drive on the south rim, while the more adventurous can make a steep decent to the canyon floor.Â
Great Sand Dunes
Appearing seemingly randomly in an open mountain valley, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the tallest sand dune in North America, which rises 750 feet above the valley floor.Â Guests can hike the dunes and then take a trip back down using their chosen method of travel--either by foot, sled, or snowboard.Â 14,000 foot peaks dot the skyline behind this beautiful park.Â
Experience Colorado's Mountains
Hike a 14er
Colorado is home to 55 peaks over 14,000 feet above sea level, more than any other state in the U.S.Â They have varying levels of difficultly, but many are easy enough for even the most novice hiker to ascend.Â Mount Sherman, only a few hours from Denver, is often considered the easiest and most accessible of Colorado's high peaks.Â
Skiing and Snowboarding
Colorado is one of North America's most popular destinations for skiing and snowboarding.Â Vail and Aspen are among the most popular and pricey resorts in the state, and you might even have a celebrity sighting or two.Â Wolf Creek Pass and Crested Butte are more remote but have reputations for some of the best snow in the state.Â
Many mountain towns in Colorado grew up around the mining industry, but today the ski and snowboard industry creates booming mountain towns.Â Breckinridge and Telluride are some of the more popular ski towns in the state, but Ouray and Silverton are also great places to visit that are not known as much for their winter sports.Â
The natural hot springs located throughout Colorado are great places to get outside and relax year round.Â Glenwood Springs has one of the more notable hot spring pools in Colorado and features two pools and a water slide.Â Steamboat Springs and Pagosa Springs are also well worth the visit.Â
In the 1800s, Colorado was once a hotbed for gold and silver mining, and it was trains that opened up this rugged land to the outside world.Â Today, many of those old trains have been opened up to tourists and provide a unique way to experience the mountains of Colorado.Â Some of the most popular trains are the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.Â
Start Planning Your Vacation to Colorado Now!
The attractions and destinations described in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning your Colorado vacation.Â Undoubtedly, there is more to see and do in Colorado than can be fit into a short family trip, but this article can act as a great guide to start your planning.Â
With the accessibility of Colorado through its large international airport located in Denver, a trip to Colorado is easier than ever.Â So what are you waiting for... start planning your vacation to Colorado now!