Classic Colorado Experiences
Collected by Joshua Berman, AFAR Local Expert
Some experiences simply cannot be repeated anywhere but Colorado. Iconic Colorado activities range from listening to live music in a red rock amphitheater to sledding a sand dune 8,000 feet above sea level, skiing hut to hut, and soaking in a high-mountain hot spring. John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" is alive and well, whether you're visiting his memorial park in Aspen, or actually summiting one of Colorado's 53 peaks above 14,000 feet.
18300 W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465, USA
Just outside of downtown Denver, Red Rocks Amphitheater is the only naturally-occurring acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world. Since it first opened in 1941, it has been home to iconic music performances, from opera to rock. The stage is...
Palmyra Peak, Colorado 81435, USA
I arrive at an unnamed saddle beneath Palmyra Peak in the San Juan Mountains, just south of Telluride and gawk at the largest concentration of 14ers in the United States — but it is a single, iconic triangular summit that captures my attention:...
Snowmass Village, CO, USA
Starting this past winter on Friday Nights the Snowmass Gondola and Elk Camp Restaurant stayed open later for Ullr Nights in the Winter and Valhalla Nights in the Summer, both named after Norse mythology. For Ullr Nights, people can partake in...
The Ouray/Telluride area of southwest Colorado is one of my all time favorite places in the mountains. Ouray is low key (no slopes here) and Telluride is a bit glitzier, with it's world class skiing and snowboarding, but it still has an authentic...
1280 Ute Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
During WWII, hundreds of U.S. soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division trained in the mountains of Colorado to prepare for wintry battles in the Alps. It's hard to imagine how the soldiers developed a love for Colorado while sleeping in the snow...
Peak to Peak Hwy, Colorado, USA
I don't mind a little autumn traffic on my leaf safari. There's no hurry up here on CO Highway 7, a.k.a. the Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway, which snakes 55 miles along the Continental Divide. In fact, if I could, I'd take each curve in...
470 Rio Grande Pl, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
"I am a song, I live to be sung, I sing with all my heart!" Pay your respects to the man who penned "Rocky Mountain High" and spent a lot of time in Colorado. The John Denver Sanctuary is a quiet cluster of carved boulders and monuments, located...
2999 Co Rd 53, Keenesburg, CO 80643, USA
The elevated walkway ascends from the Wild Animal Sanctuary gift shop and orientation point. We step up the inclined path, passing above lazing leopards, tigers and mountain lions below, then continue past a green arrow pointing to the Bolivian...
1101 Co Rd 53, Granby, CO 80446, USA
A black metal snow hook anchors our wooden sled to a tire fixed to the ground, as each dog in the seven-husky team strains at its harness, barking and yipping with the excitement of the run. My musher, Martha Sortland, motions for me to take my...
CO-14, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA
It is a rash weekend escape plan, hatched by my friend Jeff Christiansen, with an e-mail late last night: "I hope the summer has treated y'all well. This nice weekend weather has us thinking about heading up the Poudre tomorrow night for an...
4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906, USA
We are exploring Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on a 24-hour getaway to Colorado Springs. Its brochure proclaims they are “America’s Only Mountain Zoo,” but that only goes part of the way to describing the uniqueness of this place. In only a couple of...
479 Main Ave, Durango, CO 81301, USA
There's only one way to make this journey--by narrow gauge railroad, pulled by a vintage steam locomotive. This is a truly iconic experience in the southwest of the state, and one of the ways to feel the full grandeur of the San Juan Mountains....
This deep, steep canyon literally hides beneath the state's surface, though the main park entrance is just 12 miles east of Montrose, Colorado. For two million years, the Gunnison River has been working at the earth here, resulting in a "vertical...
Rimrock Dr, Fruita, CO 81521, USA
Colorado National Monument is one of those places that many of us drive by a hundred times (it's right between Denver and Moab, Utah) before finally entering the protected area and discovering the extent of this national treasure—that is so easily...
281 Centennial St, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, USA
What's better than this? Colorado's newest hot springs (they opened in July, 2015) boasts 16 small thermal pools on the bank of the Colorado River, and a large freshwater family pool heated to 95 degrees, with a sun deck and Sopris Cafe. The...
165 Hot Springs Blvd, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, USA
The first light of the day pierces billowing clouds of steam, painting an other-worldly scene as dawn breaks at the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs. Hot mineral waters splash down my back as I watch it unfold. There is a cup of coffee in my...
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