Colorado is known for its stellar winter adventures, but you actually can catch that Rocky Mountain high year round, thanks to a great variety of physical activities and unique cultural heritage. From gorgeous mountain peaks to vivid shades of green in the rolling hills, this is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. No matter the season, there’s always a reason that the Centennial State should be on your radar. Get inspired to live the Colorado lifestyle, even just while you visit, and check out this list of ten can’t miss attractions.
Get your blood pumping at the most visited peak in North America. At 14,115 feet tall, this mountain summit is not for the faint of heart. With miles of trails, you can hike it or bike it, but if you prefer to explore the mountain in a bit more comfort, consider taking the 3.5 hour journey on the Cog Railway. Spectacular views greet you from every angle as you make your way closer to the clouds.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Coincidentally, the tallest dunes in North America are nowhere near the beach. At a field covering over 30 square miles reaching heights of up to 750 feet, your inner child will appreciate this awe-inspiring sandbox. Practice sledding year round, or tackle the challenging Medano Pass, the primitive four-wheel drive road into the forest. The park is open 24 hours, so take advantage of the beautiful night sky, lit by the crystal clear twinkle of a thousand stars.
Colorado National Monument
Explore the red rock canyons on the historic Rim Rock Drive. This 23 mile scenic trip winds through the towering natural landscapes and gives visitors the unique chance to hit the trails to see the 2 billion year old layers up close. Hikes range from 1⁄2 mile to nearly 15 miles round trip, so you are sure to find something to suit your individual ability.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Fish, hike, or camp at this incredible 415 square mile recreation area. You will feel like you are on top of the world as you experience the beauty of the alpine trails and wildflowers. If you prefer a few more amenities, check out the neighboring town of Grand Lake. The air seems a bit more fresh thanks to the small town charm, and the stunning lake front views are a great backdrop for the vibrant nightlife.
Mesa Verde National Park
With over 5000 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, this park is the perfect spot for history buffs. This ancestral pueblo was occupied as early as 600 AD, so well preserved that it is easy to imagine life in the past. This UNESCO heritage spot is a great way to spend the day in the Southwest.
Red Rocks and Colorado Music Hall of Fame
There is no better place to see the stars. More than just a cool place to see a concert, this beautiful amphitheater is the perfect transition between the Great Plains and the Great Rocky Mountains. Naturally, the acoustics are perfect here, attracting some of the biggest musical acts who are drawn to its majestic stage. Check out the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and treat yourself to exciting memorabilia and entertaining exhibits of some of music’s greatest. This fun location is both interactive and aesthetically pleasing. Come experience the diverse legacy that has become a part of history in this one of a kind showcase.
Whether you are summer hiking or winter skiing, at the end of the day there is nothing better than soothing your sore muscles. Take a dip in one of Colorado’s 30 natural hot springs and relax with the mountain views in the background. These mineral-rich pools are great for the hair and skin, leaving you feeling refreshed after your soak.
Denver Performing Arts Complex
Denver’s big city vibe is in full swing, offering art lovers plenty to see and do. There are museums, galleries, festivals, and art walks to showcase the talents of both famous and local artists alike. The Performing Arts Complex offers a spectacular 10 stage space under one (very large) roof. Come see a world class show from one of its four signature resident companies, or catch one of the traveling Broadway style productions offered throughout the year. The DPAC is essential to the culture of the arts, and its music, dance, and theater will keep you entertained year round.
Though primarily thought to be a winter-time only destination, Colorado’s ski resorts are emerging as a sweet summer spot as well. In winter, check out the slopes and get your thrills at one of the 26 iconic ski and snowboard resorts. The less adventurous will enjoy sledding, skating, or snowmobiling, each with the idyllic winter views the mountains are famous for. Summer offerings are just as exciting, as the slopes make a perfect track for alpine sliding, zip lining, and of course hiking. There is always something exciting going on, so check out each resort for their unique summer schedules.
Craft Brew/Winery Tours
Colorado’s food scene is rich with flavor, and your culinary experience is not complete without visiting one of the 200 breweries or 100 wineries that call this great state home. Facility tours and free tastings are only the start. Top if off with a gourmet farm to table meal where locally sourced ingredients shine.
Get outdoors and breathe some mountain fresh air, as this destination is the perfect spot all year round. Whether it is the call of nature or the draw of the arts that brings you here, the beauty and grandeur of the Colorado lifestyle will forever be on your mind, and occupy a permanent space in your heart.