The Rocky Mountains are majestic, and Denver is a beautiful and bustling city, but you owe it to yourself to see more of Colorado than these popular destinations. Cities like Fort Collins and Colorado Springs greet guests with breweries, beautiful skylines, and art installations. Nature enthusiasts can seek out breathtaking rock formations and scenic rivers that are just begging to be explored. If you want to make a trip to Colorado truly memorable, be prepared to seek out those locations other tourists--and even some locals--tend to overlook.
Colorado Springs is home to the Garden of the Gods, a series of stone towers and fins that reach up to three hundred feet in height. Fifteen miles of trails are available to hikers who want to take a closer look at this National Natural Landmark. If you want to learn more about the area and the geology behind these formations, take time to visit the Garden of the Gods Park and Nature Center visiting area.
At this heritage railroad, you can admire Durango's mountain views, spend time wandering the restored Historic Downtown area or hop aboard the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. During the summer months, a train takes visitors between Durango and Silverton, an old town with a rich mining history. While the train trip is a great experience for tourists, you can still enjoy yourself in Durango during the winter months, as the town is also a great skiing destination.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a breathtaking example of how man-made and natural features combine to create something truly stunning. Part of the Denver Mountain Parks system, this outdoor concert venue uses the natural rock structure to provide seating for attendees. While you are at the Denver Mountain Parks area, you can also enjoy nature-centered activities like hiking, biking, and camping.
Denver's Bikealope Tours provide an exciting glimpse of the city. During their tour, riders will see the buildings and neighborhoods that make the city so memorable. This guided bike trek brings you to many significant landmarks, as well as a few spots that people often miss when they visit the city.
Boulder's Pearl Street Mall is more than just a great place for shopping. The location has been designated a Great Public Space by the American Planning Association. You can admire the charming, pedestrian-friendly area and enjoy the occasional live performances that happen in the public spaces. A mix of popular and unique businesses fill up Pearl Street Mall so that you can enjoy both the familiar and the one-of-a-kind during your visit.
When you take time to explore Mesa Verde National Park, you can take in some of Colorado's famous natural beauty. You can also take a look at cliff dwellings and artwork left by the Ancestral Pueblo people. There are four thousand known archaeological sites at the park, making this a rich cultural spot. The guided tours offered at the park will make sure you see the most noteworthy features of Mesa Verde.
Ashcroft briefly showed promise for silver mining and nearly became a ski resort, but the area is long deserted. You can check if guided tours from the Aspen Historical Society are taking place or make your own journey. Several buildings, like the town's saloon, have been restored so that you can have a clearer picture of life in the days of Ashcroft.
Even if you've never visited Fort Collins, something about their Main Street area might strike you as familiar. This area helped inspire the design of Disney's Main Street USA. The combination of modern businesses and quintessentially American architecture can dazzle visitors. In addition to looking for the similarities between Fort Collins and Disney's Main Street USA, make sure you drop in on the local establishments that give the street its character.
Pikes Peak is one of the Southwest's tallest and most popular mountains. When you consider its height of 14,000 feet, you may have a hard time seeing yourself reach the summit. With the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, you can safely make your way to the top and admire the unforgettable sight of the peaks and valleys below. In addition to hopping aboard this three-hour train ride, Pikes Peak visitors can explore the area on hiking and biking trails.
During the guided tours that happen throughout the year in Idaho Springs, you can see the mill, the mine, and the tunnel traversed by the miners. These remaining structures tell the history of America's gold craze, and you can take a tour to enjoy a vivid picture of this era. You can even join the fun by trying gold panning at the end of the tour.
South Mineral Creek Falls is accessible to people visiting the South Mineral Creek campground near Durango. The waterfalls spill over ancient red rocks into a vivid turquoise pool. The view is a breathtaking hidden treasure nestled by high rock formations and guarded by tall trees. While the state is known for its mountains, this waterfall is one of many stunning features awaiting nature lovers.
If you want to set your trip to the Grand Canyon apart, schedule a horseback tour of the area. Outfits like Sombrero Ranches and National Park Gateway Stables can work with tourists who want to go on a guided exploration of the area. For seasoned and newer riders alike, the tour can provide a great way to cover more territory and see more sights.
Over 350 miles of hiking trails stretch along crystal-clear lakesides and steep mountain paths. Catch views of a variety of wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, and bobcats while hiking, camping, or taking a scenic drive. The expansive park offers areas for picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, and ranger-led nature programs in the summer.
Designated as a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1988, the San Juan Scenic Byway loops through the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Starting and ending in Durango, Colorado, the Scenic Byway passes Mesa Verde National Park, Telluride, Red Mountain Pass, and several historic ghost towns. Stretches of the Byway are referred to as the Million Dollar Highway, named after the gold found in the nearby Idarado Mines, the ruins of which can be seen along the route.
Due to the steepness and narrowness of the canyon, parts of the gorge only receive 33 minutes of sunlight a day. Experienced outdoors people can venture down into the inner canyon with available spots for rock climbing, hiking, and kayaking. Certified as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, Gunnison boasts dazzling star-studded night skies.
Visit the tallest dunes in North America for sandboarding, sand sledding, hiking, and backpacking. During warmer months, head over to the nearby Medano Creek for swimming, surfing, skimboarding, and sandcastle building. Reserve a spot for a picnic and enjoy the views of snow-capped mountains and sweeping sand slopes.
Aspen hosts four ski areas with slopes for any skill level and breath-taking views of the Elk Mountains. Even in the off-season, there’s plenty to do, with mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing in the spring and summer and fantastic fall foliage in the autumn.