From stunning mountain ranges, forests teeming with life, deserts graced with dramatic rock formations to gorgeous turquoise lakes, Colorado ticks all the boxes of an epic adventure destination. Each open space in the state offers a superb range of outdoor activities and experiences to try. Below, we’ve rounded up ten incredible ways to explore Colorado.
Hike Among Wildflowers at Willow Creek Trail
Colorado’s landscape burst into life every summer when more than 3,000 species of wildflowers blossom. One of the best places to experience this masterpiece of nature is hiking at Willow Creek Trail, Roxborough State Park. Here, vibrant wildflowers that grow miles apart bloom close together and carpet the landscape. The trail is a gentle 1.4-mile loop that is perfect for all skill levels. Other famous Colorado hiking trails that skirt through flower-blanketed meadows include Williams Creek and Bighorn Creek Trails.
Get Up-Close with Native Wildlife at the Rocky Mountain National Park
The Centennial State is not only filled with jaw-dropping scenery but abundant wildlife. To catch a glimpse of the state’s magnificent creatures, head to Rocky Mountain National Park. The footpaths inside the park meander through elk and moose grazing fields, and you can also spot black bears. If you head to areas of higher elevation, you’ll come across bighorn sheep and marmots. For a safe experience, never approach or attempt to touch wildlife, no matter how harmless the animal looks.
Discover Ancient Cliff Dwellings at the Mesa Verde National Park
If you want to explore one of the most fascinating ancient architectural sites found in the US, stop by the Mesa Verde National Park. The park has the largest and best-preserved cliff dwelling in the country. Walking and crawling through the rooms and tunnels will give you a feel of how the ancestral Puebloan people lived between 600 and 1300 AD. You’ll be awed at how these early inhabitants established single homes and villages beneath overhanging cliffs. Hang around for a few days if you want to check out most of the sites.
Visit a Mountain-Biking Hotspot
The Rocky Mountain state has a staggering 8000-plus miles of tracks waiting to be explored. From the western slope to the front range, you’ll find stunning and lust-worthy mountain biking trails. One of the most epics trail systems is found in Fruita. This desert riding destination offers eight routes of varying mountain biking skill levels. From tight curves, rocky steeps, sharp climbs to roller-coaster drops, this place is a paradise for intermediate and expert riders. And the views are also mesmerizing.
Sail on the Largest Natural Lake in Colorado
While Colorado is as far away from the ocean as you can get, you can still enjoy some memorable sailing adventures. If you’re looking for a charming mountain lake to sail, Grand Lake awaits. It’s the largest and deepest natural lake in Colorado, and its unique wind patterns make it very popular with boaters. Visit its historic Marina, rent a vessel, and while away the hours gazing at glistening waters and lovely peaks. Swimming and fishing opportunities are also available.
Raft the Arkansas River
If you’re an adrenaline lover looking for the thrill of a lifetime, head to the Arkansas river to conquer its world-class rapids. Beginning high in the Colorado Rockies, the river delivers more than 100 miles of white water. But the 12-mile stretch of rough waters flowing through Browns Canyon is the most impressive. You can also find gentler rapids for scenic floats at Buena Vista. The gorgeous and imposing mountains in the background make the experience even more exhilarating.
Go Sandboarding or Sand Sledding at Sand Dunes National Park
Chances are you’ve gone skiing or sledding down many snowy slopes, but have you ever sled down a gigantic sand dune? If not, Great Sand Dunes National Park should be your next adventure destination. You’ll not only have an opportunity to climb the highest dunes in the country, but also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sandboard a desert dune. Just rent a sand sled or sand board at a local store, make your way to the park and start having fun.
Hike Through Canyons
Hiking in Colorado isn’t all about exploring high mountains, forests, and meadows. The Centennial State is also home to a number of spectacular hiking canyons that cut deep into the earth. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the best places to try your hand at canyoning. It’s the deepest canyon in the state, runs 48 miles long, and has a wild river rushing 2,000 plus feet below. Standing on its rim and experiencing the drop-dead view will leave you breathless and in awe of the majesty of nature. The fact that it’s among the nation’s least-visited national park makes it the perfect place to avoid crowds.
Relax at one of the Mineral Hot Springs
Colorado is home to dozens of naturally occurring hot spring pools rich in healthy minerals. These geothermal waters are found throughout the mountains on the western side of the state. To unwind from your adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities and to soothe sore muscles, immerse yourself in one of these pools. Our top pick is Glenwood Springs Pool, one of the largest water playgrounds in the world. Its bath temperature waters will have you bubbling with excitement. It also has a spa, therapy pool, eight-lane lap pool, and water slides.
Take a Thrilling Ride on a Restored Railroad
For magical views that aren’t seen when exploring on foot or vehicle, ride a vintage train in Colorado. These exhilarating rides in an open-air car allow you to have a 360-degree view of the landscape, allowing you to soak in the mountains and spot wildlife. They not only reveal natural wonders but also provide glimpses into the history of the state. Some of the best include the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, which runs so close to ancient rock walls, and Georgetown Loop Railroad, a living history museum and railroad.
Enjoy Colorado’s Unique Outdoor Offerings
Colorado’s diverse terrain makes it a suitable place to experience various outdoor activities. Whether you want to climb a high mountain, slide down sand dunes, hike amidst wildflowers or sail in a natural lake, there’s a lifetime of outdoor adventures to explore in the Centennial State.