10 Best Places to Visit in Colorado, USA

  • March 9, 2022

Colorado is one of the most beautiful states to visit, with a diverse landscape that includes the spectacular Rocky Mountains, rolling hills, breathtaking alpine lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and the high desert of the Colorado Plateau.

Mountain towns attract skiers, hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts of many kinds, but they're also fantastic places to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Scenic drives through parks and along state highways are some of the best opportunities for visitors to experience the fantastic sights that the state has to offer.

1. Mesa Verde National Park

Whether or not you've seen cliff dwellings before, Mesa Verde and the degree of access to the actual ruins that the park allows tourists will astound you.

The park's centerpiece, Cliff Palace, is one of the most impressive residences in the Southwest, with a stunning setting and exceptionally well-preserved ruins. During the summer hot season, ranger-led tours allow visitors to climb ladders deep into the heart of the home. You can get a full view of the site from a neighboring overlook if you aren't up for that degree of exercise.

The Ancestral Pueblo lived on Mesa Verde from roughly 600 AD to 1300 AD. The park contains thousands of archeological monuments, the most impressive of which are the cliff houses. Numerous attractions, many of which are on top of the mesa, are accessible through a road. Several hiking routes go to lookouts and intriguing sights, including petroglyphs, and do not require a ranger tour.

2. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness

The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, located near Aspen, showcases some of Colorado's most spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery and provides an opportunity to get out of your car and into nature. There are six mountains above 14,000 feet in this area, as well as forests, alpine lakes, meadows, and 175 miles of trails to help you explore the terrain.

The majority of visitors come to Maroon Bells for recreational opportunities. The hiking is fantastic here, with various day hikes and backpacking options. Hundreds of kilometers of mountain riding trails are available. Summer is a beautiful time for fishing in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. People come to ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile here in the winter, making it a year-round outdoor playground.

3. Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Alpine National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, located just a few miles from the mountain town of Estes Park.

Nature at its finest, with majestic mountain peaks, alpine lakes and meadows, woodlands, and plentiful wildlife. Longs Peak, the park's tallest peak at 14,259 feet, is among the park's more than 100 summits above 10,000 feet.

The major driving road through the park is Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of over 12,000 feet and provides easy access to this fantastic environment. You can sightsee from the comfort of your car or take a stroll or a short walk along the road.

Hiking trails ranging from less than a half-mile to full-day and multi-day walks are available throughout the park. You might see elk, bighorn sheep, deer, and other animals if you're lucky.

4. San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway connects the old mining town of Silverton to the town of Ouray and is a spectacular scenic drive. It is a 46-kilometer two-lane highway that hugs the mountainside in places and offers views of jaw-dropping cliffs and across valleys to inspiring mountain peaks. 

Silverton, located at over 9,300 feet and surrounded by mountains, has one main street with shops and restaurants. It can be extremely crowded in the summer, but most of the businesses are closed in the winter, and the area can feel like a ghost town. Silverton Mountain, located on the outskirts of town, is an old-school ski "resort" with excellent backcountry downhill skiing for advanced skiers.

If you take the Skyway, you can stop in Telluride. One of America's most beautiful mountain towns, known for the Telluride Ski Resort, with a traditional main street and stunning mountain scenery. You can get a better view of the area by taking a free gondola up the mountain.

5. Vail and Nearby Mountain Towns

Vail, Colorado's ski resort town, is one of the best locations to visit in the winter, but it's also an excellent spot to come at any time of year.

The village at the ski hill base is picture-perfect, with chalet-style restaurants, stores, and hotels that transport you to the heart of the Alps—this premium resort with five-star hotels, good cuisine, and designer shops.

Frisco is a picturesque mountain town and one of the most excellent places to visit in the area, even though it is not a ski resort. If you're looking to explore the I-70 Corridor surrounding Vail and Beaver Creek, this is an excellent place to start. The town offers an authentic mountain vibe with various unique cafés, boutiques, and restaurants.

Breckenridge, a tiny town and ski resort located at an elevation of 9,600 feet, lies just up the road. This town offers a laid-back and enjoyable downtown.

6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a fantastic, rugged-looking canyon that is remote enough to feel undiscovered. The Gunnison River is surrounded by cliff walls, forming a narrow and dramatic gorge.

The main activities here are simply gazing out over the canyon and appreciating the environment or wandering along the rim's walking paths and short hiking trails. These are primarily flat and simple trails. If you're feeling daring, you can hike into the canyon. Still, courses aren't maintained or marked, conditions are complex, and you're basically on your own, responsible for rescue costs if necessary.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located approximately 75 miles southeast of Grand Junction. If you live in Grand Junction or Fruita, you can easily visit the canyon and the Colorado National Monument in a single day.

7. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, home to North America's tallest dunes, is a unique site in Colorado with a terrain that most visitors don't expect to see. The 750-foot Star Dune is awe-inspiringly high, especially when you're considering climbing it, and the distant mountains make a gorgeous backdrop.

You can climb, slide, or test your boarding talents by cruising down the sand on the dunes. Kids and adults alike love splashing around in the Medano Creek, which runs along the dunes' base on hot days. Hiking routes wind their way through the woodland on the dune's edge.

The four-wheel-drive Medano Pass Primitive Road leads to some unusual terrain, and there are vehicle camping sites along the way. The Pinon Flats campground, which has tent and RV campsites, offers regular camping.

8. Pikes Peak in Pike National Forest

In the Pike National Forest, Pikes Peak stands at 14,115 feet and is one of the Southwest's famous "fourteeners," or mountains that rise above 14,000 feet. 

On the Pikes Peak Highway, west of Colorado Springs, you may drive to the summit of Pikes Peak, unlike many other mountain summits that are unreachable to the ordinary person. The journey takes roughly 1.5 hours. Alternatively, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway offers a picturesque 8.9-mile ride that takes slightly over three hours round-trip.

Aside from simply admiring the views from the top, the area provides various recreational opportunities. There are numerous hiking trails nearby, mountain biking areas, and reservoir fishing opportunities.

9. Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is also close to Colorado Springs. This National Natural Landmark is home to a one-of-a-kind landscape of jagged stone towers and fins that rise 300 feet above the ground. 

You can go up close to the stunning rock formations and explore the strange environment on fifteen kilometers of walking routes, most of which are short and easy.

Although rock climbing is a popular activity in the park, additional activities include road biking in dedicated bike lanes, mountain biking, and equestrian riding. Jeep tours of the Foothills and the Garden of the Gods are top-rated.

The Garden of the Gods Park Visitor & Nature Center serves as a museum, with exhibits and a 20-minute video about the park's geology. They also provide guided nature walks daily. The views from the visitor center are spectacular, and the on-site café, with its large windows, is a great place to grab a snack or a drink.

10. Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway

Durango, in southern Colorado, has a picturesque setting at the base of the surrounding mountains. Some well-restored, majestic ancient buildings that serve as hotels and restaurants may be found in the historic downtown district. Some have a southwestern vibe, while others have an Old West feel to them.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway is one of the town's principal tourist attractions throughout the summer. This vintage train offers day trips up the valley from Durango to Silverton, a high-altitude mining town.

The Colorado Trail, a 500-mile backcountry trail from Denver to Durango, ends in Durango. You can go for a day hike or mountain bike ride along the route.

Durango is a full-fledged ski town in the winter, thanks to the nearby Purgatory Ski Resort, only 15 minutes away. It is a family-friendly resort that draws locals and skiers from all over the Southwest.


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