Welcome to Colorado – where the playground stretches from the rolling dunes in the Great Sand Dunes National Park through lively urban cities to the tips of 14,000 foot (and higher) Rocky Mountains. Would you would like to climb a 14er and look down at the world? How about leaving a plume of feather-weight powder snow skiing down Vail’s Back Bowls on a bluebird day? What about riding a zipline over the Royal Gorge.
Not into adrenaline sports? Drive along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, stopping for easy strolls to flower-strewn alpine meadows where elk graze. Watch coins being made at Denver’s U.S. Mint, or view an eight pound gold nugget at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Visit the art and the history museums and galleries in Denver’s Golden Triangle.
Don’t try to see all of Colorado in one trip. This state is large and there are so many places to explore that you need to pick and choose where you want to stay and play. Picture the Rocky Mountains as a spine in the center of Colorado from the north to the south. On the eastern side, you have the Front Range cities of Denver and Colorado Springs. On western side sits Grand Junction. From either side you have immediate access to mountain-high activities and sports. In Colorado’s southwest you have old mining towns, national parks and monuments, and ruins of ancient Puebloan civilizations to explore.
Based in Denver or Colorado Springs you’ll have all of the urban activities and experiences, plus the ability to take easy day trips into the mountains. Choose one of the Rocky Mountain towns such as Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat, or Aspen, and you are surrounded with mountain playgrounds. Stay in Grand Junction or the surrounding region and you’re in the heart of Colorado’s wine country. Head to Southwest Colorado and you can stay in towns like Telluride and Durango that sprang up in the Wild West, and are surrounded by the ruins of ancient Puebloans civilizations.
The stampede of people coming here for the easy lifestyle, outdoor sports, culture and sports teams has made the Denver metro area one of the fastest growing urban sections in the country. Whether you are coming to Colorado just to explore Denver, or spending a few days on your way to the Rocky Mountains framing this Mile High City, your biggest problem will be choosing what to do. You can wander around the historic sections of the city now filled with restaurants, shops and art galleries. Why not catch a blockbuster show at the Denver Art Museum, such as ‘Passport to Paris’ Impressionist exhibition and ‘Star Wars and the Power of Costume’. Or, you could walk under a dinosaur’s massive tail at the Museum of Nature & Science.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, golfers tee off in late October and early May. Year-round, locals walk or ride bikes on paths threading the city. (Didn’t bring a bike? just rent one at a B-cycle stand and drop it off at another.) Broadway road shows and concerts are scheduled year-round for culture lovers, while sports fans have their choice for Bronco, Avalanche and Nugget games.
Mountain-high day tripping is popular, because it’s a straight shot on I-70 or Highway 285 to the heart of the Rockies. The Front Range (as the mountains edging Denver and Colorado Springs are called) towns of Morrison and Evergreen are popular day trips.
“Pikes Peak or Bust.” This was the mantra for settlers driving wagons or walking westward. Some stayed in the shadow of Pikes Peak to develop Colorado Springs, home to the US Air Force Academy (the second-most popular tourist attraction in Colorado) and the red-rock Garden of the Gods.
Travelers who vacation in Colorado Springs often include a train ride up Pikes Peak, and a visit to Manitou Springs, Cave of the Winds, the Cliff Dwellings and other nearby tourist attractions. Add on exploring Victor and Cripple Creek, where the former bordellos now house casinos, and descended 1,000 feet underground to tour the Molly Kathleen Mine and it can easily take a full vacation week. To learn more about Colorado Springs visit here.
The Rocky Mountains framing Denver and Colorado Springs are a major draw for vacationers, as well as city dwellers along the Front Range. Skiers and snowboarders gravitate to Colorado’s resorts both summer and winter. Towns such as Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat, Telluride and Vail are just a few of the resorts famous for spectacular skiing and snowboarding. But, there’s plenty of entertainment for visitors who don’t ski or snowboard, from racing snowmobiles up and down mountainsides, to cross country skiing and dog-sled rides.
In the summertime, you can hike on trails threading mountainsides, go river rafting or challenge yourself on specially designed mountain-biking terrain. You can play golf on award-winning courses, cast a line into gold-medal rivers or visit ghost towns.
Colorado’s Grand Junction and the region around it is flanked by the dramatic Grand Mesa and the Bookcliff Mountains. Visitors flock here for wine-country tours, Palisade peach festivals, scenic drives, and hiking and biking in red-rock country.
Downtown Grand Junction with its galleries, restaurants, public art and places to sit and relax has a pace of life that you can get used to quickly. Outside of the city limits, you can day trip to Dinosaur National Monument, Moab and the Canyon Lands of Utah, Telluride, Aspen and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
The four corners region, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, is where you can explore footprints of ancient Puebloan civilizations at Mesa Verde National Park, enjoy winery visits and take scenic drives over twisty mountain passes. Visit Ouray, called Little Switzerland because of its peaks, ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train, and visit mining ruins above the resort town of Telluride.
Colorado has legalized marijuana, and “weed” can be purchased at many pot shops in several cities. There are also weed tours. The regulations as to who can buy and where weed can be smoked are strict. Visit GoodtoKnow so you are aware of the rules before you choose to use.
Two types of visitors come to Colorado in the summer, spring and fall. Are you in the group filled with adventurers who want to climb mountains and rappel down steep cliffs, hike on trails past deer nibbling tree bark, and raft down the Colorado raging with spring melt? Or, would you prefer to view the mountains while driving on some of the country’s highest and most curvaceous roads, such as The Million Dollar Highway in southwestern Colorado, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, or Mount Evans just 60 miles from Deplannver. You can take tamer walks, go fly fishing, and raft gentler sections of the rivers, too. Both approaches let you explore remnants of gold-mining towns, and photograph wildflower-strewn meadows filled with purple columbine and pink tansy asters.
Don’t forget to click on the yellow bar above for details about when to go, what it costs, and transportation.
Colorado is a four-season destination. Winter sports lovers, from skiers and snowboarders to snowmobilers, come to the resorts in the Rocky Mountains in the wintertime. Summertime in the mountains the resorts run festivals almost every weekend, and the trails on the mountainsides are filled with hikers and mountain bikers.
Denver has become a sophisticated city, but its locals are big on outdoor sports and bicycling throughout the year. Even in late fall and early spring, residents can be found sitting on outdoor patios.
You can plan a trip to Colorado on any budget. Your choice of free to moderate to extremely luxurious lodging, and the types of activities will determine the price.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We donât want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in $US.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$$ => Tickets $26 per person
$ => Rooms less than $100 for a double
$$ => Rooms $200 for a double
$$$ => Rooms $300 for a double
$ => $1-15 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$ => $16-40 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
$$$ => $41 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
$ => Tickets less than $10 per person
$$ => Tickets $11-25 per person
$$ => Tickets $26 per person
Flights: Denver International Airport is a major hub for United and Frontier, but most of the major airlines fly here from all of the major cities in the U.S. There are also international non-stop flights from Canada, Mexico, Iceland and other countries.
During the winter, there are nonstop flights to some of the ski areas from the west coast, Texas, Chicago and other cities. If you are booking a trip to a resort, ask the resort’s chamber about direct flights from your city.
There are nonstop flights from Denver to several cities in Colorado, including Aspen, Steamboat/Hayden, Telluride and Durango.
Trains: Amtrak stops in Denver. The trip through the Rockies from the West Coast (or the reverse) is scenic.
Auto Rentals: You can rent cars from all of the major car rental companies at Denver International Airport. (You need to take the car rental agency shuttles from the main terminal to a special terminal that houses the car rental counters.)