Colorado is the highest state in the United States of America. It is located in the west-central part of the country and is named after the Colorado River. Colorado is known for its extraordinary flora and fauna. Among other things, the state is partly crossed by the Rocky Mountains mountain range. For this reason, Colorado is a popular destination for nature lovers, who pursue activities such as hiking, mountain biking and camping in the various national parks here.
Cities like Aspen are world-renowned destinations for fans of winter sports, and historic towns like Durango take visitors back to the days of the Wild West. The former gold mining town of Denver now serves as the state capital and is the region’s most populous city. Colorado has a lot to offer its guests and serves different interests. The 15 most beautiful places in Colorado are highlighted below.
15. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. It covers almost 1000 square kilometers and receives many guests from all over the world throughout the year. Since the national park encompasses parts of the Rocky Mountains, its most impressive feature is its imposing mountain landscape.
The park has several hundred kilometers of hiking trails that invite you to explore the area. Friends of nature will feel right at home in Rocky Mountain National Park. The various peaks offer unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape, and the lakes on the grounds draw a picturesque panorama. The park is also home to a variety of native wildlife.
Colorado’s capital and most populous city holds many interesting attractions for visitors. Denver was originally a gold mining settlement and has since developed into the economic and cultural center of Colorado. Among the most important attractions are the city’s many museums. In the Kirkland Museum of Fine Art, the Clyfford Still Museum and the Denver Art Museum, works of art from various styles can be admired. The Molly Brown House Museum and the History Colorado Center provide insights into Colorado’s history.
Another must-see destination in Denver is the Denver Botanic Gardens, where visitors can view a range of plants from around the world. Sports fans will get their money’s worth at Coors Field baseball stadium. For families, the Denver Aquarium is a great destination. Last but not least, there are many options in the city to satisfy your small or big appetite. Among the most popular spots are Denver Central Market and The Source. Also, like many cities in Colorado, Denver has numerous breweries.
Although Aspen is not a very large city, its name is internationally known. Home to one of the most famous ski resorts in the United States, Aspen has become one of the most prosperous cities in the entire world. It is located in a valley in the Rocky Mountains. The surrounding mountain landscape is perfect for a variety of winter sports. These include skiing (both cross-country and downhill), snowboarding and ice skating. Visitors can also enjoy snowmobiling excursions or snowshoeing.
But Aspen is not only worth a trip in winter. It’s also worth a trip in warmer temperatures for activities like canoeing, rafting, horseback riding and more. The Rocky Mountains can be explored while camping and hiking. Aspen is not only suitable for adults, but is also a memorable destination for family trips.
12. Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado after the capital Denver. It is located at the foot of the famous Pikes Peak mountain and is especially known for its beautiful surroundings. The mountainous landscape is super suitable for excursions and from the mountain tops you have a great view over the surrounding area. Besides Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods Nature Park is also worth a visit. The park can be explored on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.
Besides nature, Colorado Springs is also known for its sporting side. The city is the headquarters of the U.S. National Olympic Committee and serves as the venue for a number of international and national championships in various sports. Therefore, sports fans will get their money’s worth in Colorado Springs.
11. Great Sand Dunes National Park
The state of Colorado is known for its numerous national parks. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of them. It consists, as the name suggests, of sand dunes that are thousands of years old. These dunes are over 200 meters high, making them the highest sand dunes in all of North America.
When visiting Colorado, you should not miss this special national park! The park can be visited both on foot and on horseback, and the sand dunes invite you to go boarding or sledding. In addition, on clear nights you can observe a stunning starry sky.
10. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is also worth a visit. It is located in the western part of Colorado on the Gunnison River. This river has dug itself deeper and deeper into the earth over about two million years, resulting in the significant steep slopes in the national park.
The interior of the Black Canyon is a great challenge especially for experienced hikers and climbers. But even more inexperienced vacationers can hike the park on trails of varying degrees of difficulty. Like all national parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park offers incredible natural scenery and invites you to explore the native fauna and flora.
9. Mesa Verde National Park
On the list of Colorado’s most beautiful places, Mesa Verde National Park is, of course, not to be missed. What sets it apart from the other national parks in the state is that it is known primarily for its archaeological structures. In fact, the park is the only U.S. national park established specifically to protect the works of archaeological cultures.
Here, former Anasazi settlements can be visited and insights into the culture of the tribes can be gained. In Mesa Verde, visitors can also participate in various activities. These include hiking, camping, stargazing, and attending cultural performances, to name a few.
The town of Breckenridge is one of the most popular ski resorts in the state of Colorado. In winter, the endless snowy landscape invites you to go skiing, sledding and snowboarding. In addition, you can ride a snowmobile or fat bike through the Rocky Mountains here. If you prefer it warmer, you can make yourself comfortable in a snowcat and cruise through the snowy landscape.
Breckenridge also has plenty to offer in the spring and summer. When it’s warmer, visitors can challenge their athletic side with whitewater rafting or kayaking. For something a little more relaxed, try golfing, or take a lift ride overlooking the enchanting area.
Along with Breckenridge and Aspen, Vail is also a widely known ski resort. The small town offers guests all the amenities for an all-around winter vacation. Both experienced winter sports enthusiasts and newcomers are at the right address in Vail. In addition to great skiing and snowboarding slopes, you can try out unusual activities like dog sledding or snowshoeing.
After a day in the snow, you can indulge yourself in the luxurious hotels and excellent restaurants. Vail is also a great destination away from winter sports. In summer, visitors can paraglide over the valley. Relaxation can be found in the hot springs about an hour from Vail. As in many parts of Colorado, there are beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails in Vail.
This big city near Denver is best known for its breweries. Boulder has nearly 20 of them, some of which offer tours. In addition to the art of brewing beer, the city is also big on other forms of artistic expression. If you stroll through the city, you can admire numerous street art graffiti on the walls of the buildings. Boulder also has great museums and hosts various cultural events throughout the year. These include the Pearl Street Arts Fest, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the Boulder Taco Fest.
5. Grand Junction
Grand Junction is a small town near the Utah border. It is also not far from the famous Colorado National Monument. In the downtown area, you can easily go for a stroll and spend your time looking at various art galleries and craft stores. Grand Junction itself also has a botanical garden, an amusement park, and a science museum. These attractions are mostly suitable for families.
However, many more attractions are located around the perimeter of the small town. Visitors should not miss the wineries in the nearby town of Palisade. An absolute must is also a trip to the Grand Mesa, the world’s largest table mountain.
Not far from Mesa Verda National Park is the town of Durango. Here you will find the famous Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a railroad that leads to the former mining town of Silverton. Tourists can ride along the historic route on a steam locomotive while admiring the picturesque scenery. In the associated museum, one can learn more about the history of the railroad.
Walking through Durango, one immediately feels transported back to the 1880s. Many of the old buildings are still well preserved and still exude the atmosphere of the Wild West. When you enter one of the saloons, you have the feeling that you have landed in a western movie yourself. In the many local stores you can stock up on great souvenirs inspired by Colorado’s historic past. Durango also boasts excellent restaurants that cater to all tastes.
3. Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak is one of the highest mountains in the Rocky Mountains, with an elevation of over 4000 meters. It is located not far from the city of Colorado Springs. Visitors can either drive their own car to the summit, or – if they prefer to enjoy the view instead of having to concentrate on driving – book a jeep tour or train ride. This will get you to the top of the mountain within a few hours.
On the way up, you’ll pass interesting rock formations like Devil’s Playground or mountain lakes like Crystal Reservoir. It gets more athletic if you cover the distance on foot. Once at the top, you can enjoy a great panoramic view of the surrounding area. If you are looking for a challenge, you can mountain bike the distance back down to the valley.
2. Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument should not be missed if you plan a tour through Colorado. The nature reserve near the city of Grand Junction holds one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire state. These differ from the mountainous terrain of Rocky Mountain National Park or the desert-like Great Sand Dunes National Park. Instead, you’ll find colorful sandstone formations and beautiful canyon scenery that is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
At the visitor center, interested visitors can learn more about the history of the monument. The nature reserve is especially suitable for long hikes, during which the canyons can be admired from numerous vantage points. If you drive along Rim Rock Drive, you can also visit the area by car. There is also a campground if one wishes to stay in the area for a longer period of time. Experienced bikers and climbers will also enjoy the Colorado National Monument thanks to challenging routes.
1. Steamboat Springs
Another tip for winter sports lovers is the town of Steamboat Springs – also known as “The Boat”. In winter, it is a great place for skiing and has hosted several international ski championships. Thanks to its proximity to the Yampa River, Steamboat Springs is also a popular destination for people who want to try water sports like rafting or kayaking. Every summer, the city hosts the Yampa River Festival, where guests can watch a kayak rodeo and a race on the river, among other activities.
Furthermore, there are scenic attractions around Steamboat Springs such as hot springs and waterfalls that should not be missed. If you need a break from the outdoor fun, you can cozy up at a brewery or visit one of the local museums – for example, the Tread of Pioneers Museum, which takes a closer look at the history of the region.