10 Best Places to Visit in Colorado

A nature lover’s paradise, Colorado is blessed with the beauty of majestic mountains, gushing rivers, prairie lands, and sandy deserts. A place like no other, Colorado brings together the adventure of the southern Rocky Mountains, the majesty of the Colorado Plateau, and the abundance of the Great Plains. 

One of the most scenic states in the United States of America, Colorado is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Kansas to the east, Nebraska to the northeast, Oklahoma and New Mexico to the south, and Utah to the west.

It’s named after the Colorado River, which Spanish explorers called Rio Colorado, or red river, due to the red-colored silt it carries down from the mountains. Because of its geographical placement, the state is also categorized as one of the mountain states.

Although Colorado encompasses a diverse landscape of mountains, desert, plains, plateaus, and canyons, the Rocky Mountains are a major attraction. Rising on the western edge of the Great Plains, these mountains consist of many ranges. They include the Front Range, on the eastern side, and the Park Range, on the western side. The western belt also includes the Sawatch Mountains and the San Juan Mountains.

Among the notable peaks in these ranges that qualify as Colorado's famous landmarks is Mount Elbert, which is the highest point in the U.S. Rockies. In fact, Colorado has the highest mean elevation of all states at 6,800 feet above sea level. Colorado’s beauties are not limited to the giant mountains, but extend to sand dunes, the beautiful waters of the Colorado River, green coniferous forests, and vast stretches of prairie lands!

Climatic conditions in the state are complex in nature. Since it’s a high-altitude region, its temperatures are usually low. The High Plains regions and deserts might see elevated temperatures during the summer. Winters are usually dry and cold. The state also experiences extreme weather conditions, including blizzards, hailstorms, thunderstorms, and occasional floods. 

Life in Colorado - History and People

The land of present-day Colorado was home to Native American tribes for over 13,000 years. The mesas of the Colorado Plateau and the valleys of the region were occupied by the Pueblo people, while the Ute tribe took to the mountain valleys of the southern and western Rockies. The Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes lived in the eastern plains. 

Before the U.S. gained control of the land, Spanish and French explorers claimed Colorado for their countries. In 1803, the U.S. acquired the eastern Rocky Mountains from France under the Louisiana Purchase. A new kind of Colorado life began to flourish as European traders and trappers migrated to the region to settle down. More and more people came in search of a home when the Santa Fe Trail opened up in 1821. 

Colorado did not become a state until the war between Mexico and America ended in 1848 and the U.S. claimed ownership of the western parts of the state. Gradually, life in Colorado developed until the land became part of the Territory of Colorado. With more people moving into the region, Colorado was eventually admitted as a U.S. state in 1876.

Since then, the state has evolved from being dependent on mining and agricultural area to have an economy that thrives on multiple industries, including services, healthcare, manufacturing, oil and gas, farming and livestock, tourism, communications, and transportation. Printing and publishing, including magazines in Colorado, also make up part of the economy. 

10 Best Places to Visit in Colorado

Whether you want to go skiing with friends or create memories with your family, or if you simply need a break from your routine, Colorado’s multifarious landscape makes it possible. The gigantic mountains and wilderness beckon adventurous souls and offer opportunities to unwind as you soak in its natural beauty. Its rich heritage can be seen in forts, museums, and narrow railroads running along breathtaking paths. 

Undoubtedly, Colorado’s terrain makes it a perfect destination for every kind of traveler! So, where do you start? Although you can always get a Colorado Life Magazine for an in-depth guide, you can begin with this list of best places to visit in Colorado

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

A trip to Colorado isn’t complete without a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park! A required stop on your list of places to visit in Colorado, the park is one of the most frequented in the country. 

Lying along the Continental Divide, the national park has 118 peaks above 10,000 feet, including 77 mountain peaks that rise over 12,000 feet. The park also has several trails that let hikers enjoy single to multi-day hikes and satisfy their adventurous spirits! If you prefer driving, take the Trail Ridge Road to soak in the natural beauty of the place from the comfort of your vehicle.

During the summer, the park is packed with people who enjoy all sorts of activities, like hiking, camping, fishing, and capturing the local wildlife on film. During the winter, the park becomes white heaven. Go cross-country skiing or snowboarding on mountains covered in thick snow. 

2. Denver

Bustling with life in Colorado, the capital city is the perfect place to get the best of both the urban vibe and natural tranquility. A cultural hub, the city houses several museums, shopping streets, performing art centers, lively sports venues, and happening restaurants and breweries. 

The city also celebrates the state’s rich mining culture and cowboy history. At the edge of the Rockies, it is a great winter destination for enjoying snow sports. Because of its high altitude of 5,280 feet above sea level at the State Capitol building, Denver is also called the Mile High City! (There are 5,280 feet in a mile).

3. Mesa Verde

Have you wondered how ancient civilizations lived their life in Colorado? Mesa Verde not only answers this question but offers you a chance to get a taste of it firsthand! 

This destination is the site of the cliff dwellings of the ancient Pueblo people, who played a prominent part in Colorado life centuries ago. When they settled down in the region, they built their homes into cliffs and in shallow caves using materials like sandstone, ash, clay, and water. These ancient ruins are well preserved, making Mesa Verde a fascinating spot for visitors.

You can tour the preserved archaeological ruins of Cliff Palace. While there are other archeological sites, these cliff dwellings draw most of the tourist attention. With hiking trails and ranger-guided tours, this is a must-do on your bucket list for Colorado. 

4. Aspen

Whether on the news or through family or friends, everyone’s heard of Aspen and its reputation for attracting celebrities! All the hype surrounding this place is true. 

A paradise for winter sports lovers, Aspen is conveniently located in the heart of four popular ski spots. These resorts provide opportunities for skiers of every skill level! Amateurs can smooth ski on the gentle slopes of Buttermilk Mountain and pros can show off their moves on the rough terrain of Aspen Mountain. 

If you’re visiting Aspen in summer, you can enjoy fishing on the Roaring Fork River or visit the popular 14,000-foot peaks of the Maroon Bells. One of the best places to visit in Colorado, Aspen is also home to the crème de la crème of resorts and dining experiences. Indulge in luxury accommodations and culinary experiences for an unforgettable experience. 

5. Breckenridge

Bright blue sky and coniferous trees with the snow-covered Rocky Mountains as a backdrop during the day, and a starry sky above a moonlit world at night. Sound like the cover of a magazine about Colorado? That’s Breckenridge for you. 

A town with a rich history and culture, Breckenridge cannot be left off the list of cool places to visit in Colorado. It’s a historic mining town located a few miles from Denver. The town has a small population that doubles during the winter months thanks to the thousands of acres of ski slopes that surround it. In summer, the snow melts, unveiling the colors of vegetation that make the trails look equally breathtaking. 

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6. Great Sand Dunes National Park

An exploration of the southern parts of Colorado is incomplete without a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Situated near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, it offers an impressive sight and a bunch of fun activities! 

You can take in the views of the sand dunes, formed by winds blowing from the nearby mountains, or add fun to your visit by taking part in the various activities that the region has to offer. Sled down the tallest sand dunes, float along Medano Creek, hike, fat bike, or ride on horseback. At night, admire the starlit sky before you drift into the world of dreams. 

7. Boulder

Boulder combines the best of adventure, relaxation, and city vibe. Nestled against the Rocky Mountains, the town has a lot of hiking and biking trails, including Boulder Creek Path, the center of all outdoor activities in Boulder. For an urban experience, you can shop and dine at the popular Pearl Street Mall. 

8. Colorado Springs

Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak is Colorado Springs. Unlike other mountainous regions of the state, this is not a skiing destination, which is what makes it stand out and draw visitors’ attention. You can hike to the top of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s famous landmarks, which inspired the song America the Beautiful, or enjoy a rail ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. 

Other attractions in the area include the Garden of the Gods, which houses rock formations, museums, and fine art centers. 

9. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Long ago, the Ute tribe called this place their home. Today, the 2,000-foot-deep canyon, carved by the Gunnison River over thousands of years, is a draw for visitors who seek a break from city life. The rim of the canyon provides stunning scenic views. Apart from lying back and enjoying the landscape, you can go fishing in the river’s waters, climb its rocky banks, and hike or ski along its trails. 

10. Vail

Built to accommodate one of the largest single-mountain ski resorts in the country, the city of Vail is a winter wonderland. Thanks to thousands of acres of ski slopes and trails spread across the resort, this town draws the attention of celebrities and adventure enthusiasts alike! 

This tiny village also brims with life during the summer. You can enjoy fishing in nearby streams, river rafting, zip lining, horseback riding, golfing, and hiking. This is one of the best places to visit in Colorado for an adrenaline rush. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • What is the prettiest place in Colorado?

Colorado is full of gorgeous places. From Rocky Mountain National Park to Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park to Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Maroon Lake in Aspen, the list is extensive. Colorado Life Magazine can help you pick the destination that best suits your interests during your visit to the state. 

  • What is the best month to visit Colorado?

Colorado is open to travelers all year round! If you’re hoping to ski on the snowy slopes, the winter months, from November to early April, are the perfect time. But if you want to enjoy green vistas under the sun, visit from June to September. For those who want to avoid crowds, March through May and September through October are the ideal times. 

  • Where should I go for a weekend getaway in Colorado?

Whether you want to rejuvenate or indulge in adventurous activities, Colorado has it all. Rocky National Mountain Park, Aspen, Estes Park, Colorado Springs, Black Canyon, and other places make great weekend getaways. Check out our list of places to visit in Colorado to find the best option! 

  • What is the best small town in Colorado?

There are many tiny gems in this scenic crown. Breckenridge, Lake City, Creede, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Alamosa, Paonia, Leadville and Crestone are just a few that make the list of the best places to visit in Colorado. 

  • Is Colorado expensive to visit?

A week’s tour of Colorado can run into thousands of dollars, but the cost depends on your preferences. You can always find budget tours and stays, especially if you visit Colorado between March and May or September and October. 

  • How many days do you need to see Estes Park?

Estes Park is a great base for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. With so much to explore, there’s no limit to the number of days you’ll want to spend at Estes Park, but at least 3 days is ideal. The key is to figure out what you want to do and plan a trip accordingly.

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