The Best Things to Do in Colorado
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
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.
Hike, bike, or ride at your leisure up through Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Colorado. For photographers, I recommend taking Trail Ridge Road for its vast opportunity to stop off and take pictures of beautiful views. The trip begins in the...
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...
Peak to Peak Hwy, Colorado, USA
It would take three or four hours to drive the whole Peak to Peak Highway from Estes Park to Interstate 70, but there are lots of reasons to take as long as you want, taking time to explore along the way. Along the 70-mile length of Colorado's...
515 Ruxton Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, USA
This three-and-a-half hour ride up the nation's highest and steepest cog railway, allows a 45-minute break on the summit to take pictures from 14,115 feet above sea level. It's quite an experience, with various levels of ticket prices and car...
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...
52068 W Fork Rd #38, Dolores, CO 81323, USA
Among the most lauded hotel openings in recent years, Dunton Hot Springs is a glitterati mainstay, with its batch of former mining community cabins that look straight out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue. You don’t have to book a pricey stay at...
4655 Humboldt St, Denver, CO 80216, USA
Every January thousands of cows, horses, sheep and cowboys ride into town for one of Denver's oldest and finest traditions - the National Western Stock Show. The over 100 year history has seen the 17-day event grow, but some things stay the same,...
Vail, CO 81657, USA
The top Ski runs to hit at Vail Game Creek Bowl- Dealer's Choice run Sun Up Bowl - get some untracked snow in the trees by Yonder and Over Yonder runs Blue Ox, Highline, Prima, Riva Ridge and Rogers Run - best runs on the front side Blue Sky Basin...
115 Daly Ln, Snowmass Village, CO 81615, USA
Snowmass Mountain is the most diverse and largest of all the four Aspen Skiing Company mountains in the area and offers something for everyone. It has a great Ski School program that starts as young as two years old and goes up through adults. On...
1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904, USA
Garden of the Gods is a geologic wonderland on the west side of Colorado Springs at the foot of Pikes Peak. It's easily accessed from I-25, the main highway that runs along Colorado’s Front Range and connects Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock,...
Mesa Verde, CO, USA
For anyone who believes that truly historic architecture doesn’t exist in the states, Mesa Verde National Park will make you think again. Still standing in the park are cliff dwellings built in 600 CE by the ancestral Pueblo people who once...
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...
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...
17155 W 44th Ave, Golden, CO 80403, USA
If you're into trains (or your kids are) this museum is a ferroequinologist's (a person who studies trains) paradise. This museum houses over 100 steam and diesel locomotives, passenger cars, and cabooses as well as a G-scale model railroad in its...
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:...
2861 Eldora Ski Rd, Nederland, CO 80466, USA
Not only is Eldora Mountain Resort the closest resort to the Front Range (so close, they have a ski run named City Lights because you can see Denver from the top of the trail in the evenings), driving there and back does not involve sitting in...
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...
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...
460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne, CO 80498, USA
After a big day out playing in the Colorado Rockies, relax and take in a show at the striking new Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, opened in 2017 for $9 million, the new home of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. The center features three...
110 2nd Ave, Box 673, Frisco, CO 80443, USA
Glassblowing and shaping will make an artist out of anyone. GatherHouse owner and artist John Hudnut holds glassblowing demonstrations on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m., and offers hands-on glassblowing classes by...
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....
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...
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...
Rd 191, Salida, CO 81201, USA
This section of river is one of the most rafted sections, and for good reason. Whitewater difficulty levels are Class III–IV, which makes for a perfect guided trip for families with teenage kids, first-time rafters looking for a thrill, or...
Idaho Springs, CO, USA
Colorado has more than its fair share of great whitewater rafting, but the stretch of Clear Creek at Idaho Springs, only about 35 miles from downtown Denver, has more thrills per mile than just about any other. Running through a historic mining...
2302 Midland Ave, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, USA
Despite what you might assume, there’s actually some decent surfing in Colorado. Specifically, in Glenwood Springs right on the Colorado River itself. In fact, it’s the first man-made wave feature built on the Colorado River. It was...
922 South Main Street, Buena Vista, CO 81211, USA
What was once a garbage dump on the Arkansas River decades ago is now one of the premier whitewater parks in Colorado, thanks to brother-sister duo Jed and Katie Selby, who bought the land—which had been slated for development—and then...
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