Recent charts show that Colorado is the second fastest growing state in the United States. It’s not surprising given the State’s insane mountains, epic snow, sunshine, sand dunes, hip cities and friendly people. Not ready to relocate? Well, your loss… BUT you still should add Colorado to your list of places to travel to this year!
1) ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
When you ask people what they know about Colorado, they usually respond with “tall mountains and weed?” Yes. Colorado has epic mountains (and weed is legal too, but we won’t go there). In fact, the state has 58 mountains over 14,000 feet! Essentially this means a playground for hiking, biking, skiing/snowboarding, swimming in alpine lakes and camping.
Some of the best hiking can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park, about an hour drive from Denver. Although popular, the hike to Dream Lake is definitely a must-do during any season (though be prepared with winter gear in the chilly months). Some other great hikes in the park are Sky Pond, Chasm Lake and Mills Lake, and a recommended scenic drive is the beautiful Trail Ridge Road. Check out more information here.
2) MAROON BELLS
Maroon Bells is another gorgeous mountain destination in Colorado. Located a short drive from the famous town of Aspen, I recommend going to “The Bells” for sunrise. That way you will avoid the crowds and get to see it with the best light. The road to Maroon Bells is closed in winter but you can take a snowmobile tour to witness all that snowy goodness. Make sure to check out Aspen whilst you’re in the area and consider going skiing/snowboarding if you have the time.
3) PEACEFUL COLORADO MOUNTAINS
Looking for some fun in the mountains but don’t like the crowds? Head to the San Juan Mountains! If you are looking to hike or camp then I would recommend the summer months. Some great options for epic hikes are Ice Lake/Island Lake and Blue Lakes, though be prepared as they are quite challenging! If you are looking to take more of a road trip with pretty scenery, then I would definitely recommend you plan for a visit in the Fall. The Sky Juan Skyway loop is the perfect option for those stunning fall colors. Another more secluded mountain spot is Missouri Lakes, near Vail. The Missouri Pass/Fancy Pass Loop is the perfect overnight hike if you’re looking for an adventure!
4) TALLEST SAND DUNES IN NORTH AMERICA
Yep – Colorado has really tall sand dunes! Who knew right?! You can find this gem of a national park about a 4 hour drive south of Denver. You can go hiking, sand-boarding, sand-sledding, camping & swimming in Medano Creek. Plus, with a combination of little light pollution, dry air, and high elevation – this park is the perfect place for stargazing! Find out more here.
5) EXPERIENCE A SHOW AT RED ROCKS
Colorado is famous for Red Rocks Amphitheater, and for good reason. Built in 1941, this outdoor music venue is surrounded by huge vertical rocks that create a natural amphitheater for over 9,000 people. The sound produced is nearly impossible to beat, hence why so many large artists choose to play at this prestigious venue. Seeing a show at Red Rocks is definitely something you should add to your bucket list! Check out upcoming acts here.
6) RAD CULTURE
The relaxed and friendly vibe of the Colorado locals is so refreshing. Bustling Denver is full of trendy cafes, great eats, breweries and shopping options. If you’re looking to escape the city but still love great culture then head to Boulder! Most known as a college town and for being a little hippy, Boulder is full of amazing things to do.
7) HIKING IN BOULDER
You can’t visit Boulder without exploring Chautauqua. This gorgeous and historic park boasts the town’s famous “Flatirons”, a bunch of jagged rock formations. There are ample options for hiking and climbing in the park and even an eatery, Chautauqua Dining Hall. Want more mountain views? Boulder is full of them. Head up Flagstaff Mountain for scenic day and night views of the surrounding mountains, Boulder below and Denver is the distance. A short but challenging hike in the area is Green Mountain Summit and a recommended drive-up lookout is Lost Gulch.
8) FOOD AND DRINK
Boulder is known for its great food, bear and coffee. Some recommendations are Boxcar Coffee Roasters for a stellar latte, Illegal Pete’s for a killer burrito, Southern Sun for a pint, and The Kitchen for a delicious farm-to-table dinner.
I hope this article helps you to plan your own visit to Colorado. If you have questions, tips or updated information about hiking Colorado, please share them with readers in the comments.
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