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Things To Do in Colorado – Your Ultimate Guide 

Dusty river canyons, snow-covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains, ancient cliff dwellings, charming towns, and desolate desert landscapes; Colorado is a one-of-a-kind destination, unlike any other US state. 

There are innumerable things to do in Colorado, from thrilling adventure activities to exploring lively metropolitan cities. The expansive, beautiful state offers a little something for every traveler. 

This article is your complete guide for all the best things to do in Colorado

Overview

  • Towns and Cities 
  • Outdoor Adventure Activities 
  • National Parks 
  • State Parks 
  • Other Beautiful Sites 
  • Cool and Unusual Things 

Best Towns and Cities to Visit in Colorado

Aspen

Riding a gondola in Aspen is a fun thing to do in Colorado Pin
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Aspen, Colorado, is a popular alpine town nestled against Aspen Mountain. Travelers flock to the town at all times of the year for skiing, hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures. 

Aspen is a perfect combination of luxury living and enjoyment of nature. During the day, you can explore the area’s vast wilderness scene. Then, you can lounge at sophisticated bars and visit fine dining facilities at night. 

There is also a vast array of boutique stores for the avid shopper and museums and music halls for the art enthusiast.  

If you are looking for a fantastic Colorado vacation spot, look no further than Aspen.

Denver

Denver is among the fun things to do in Colorado Pin
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Denver is Colorado’s capital, also known as The Mile High City. It boasts plenty of fun things to do within the city center and outside the city as day trips. 

Denver’s top attractions include the Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Coors Field games, and more. 

Denver is an excellent base for launching day trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, and Red Rock Amphitheater. 

Ouray 

Ouray Colorado Pin
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Ouray is a municipality situated between the San Juan Mountains in a lovely river valley. It is known as both the “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado” and “the Switzerland of America.” 

Hot springs feed into the Ouray Town Pool, a popular place to visit for both locals and tourists. In addition, you will find trickling waterfalls and swimming pools where the river meets the mountains, perfect for spending a warm sunny day. 

Ouray offers many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, ATVing, fishing, canyoning, and the town’s special winter event, ice climbing. 

Durango

Durango Colorado Pin
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The small city of Durango sits in southwest Colorado, not far from the border with New Mexico. 

The historic town is known in part for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad that runs through it. The 1800s mining boom led to the creation of train tracks that carried mined metals back and forth to Silverton. Today, you take a ride on the train through soaring mountains, deep canyons, and the San Juan National Forest. 

Travelers also visit Durango for its dry, powdered snow, perfect for skiing, great fishing holes, and stunning hiking trails. 

Durango is a great Colorado vacation destination, with many great outdoor activities to keep you busy.

Silverton

Silverton Colorado Pin
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On the other side of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is Silverton, a remote town in the western San Juan Mountains with a small population of 612. 

Silverton looks just like what you’d expect from a historic western town. Old-styled storefronts straddle the main road, with towering mountains rising in the distance. 

Silverton is a great place to visit for a step back in history and some outdoor adventures. Camping, rafting, hiking, and more are available in the wilderness beyond the town.

Boulder

Boulder Colorado Pin
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Boulder, Colorado, is a city lying at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It is known for its cute cafes, art galleries, boutique shopping, and great restaurants. In addition, the University of Colorado hosts many exhibits, including the Fiske Planetarium, the Museum of Natural History, and much more.

Another popular tourist site is the Flatirons, a rocky formation at the city’s edge. Ride your bike, take a stroll, or set up a picnic in Chautauqua Park as you enjoy the stunning views of the protruding mountain. 

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Pin
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Colorado Springs is a great base to launch into your next adventure. It lies close to Pikes Peak, a glacier-capped mountain in Pike National Forest. Enjoy some incredible hiking trails or ride the cog railway to the 14,114-foot summit. 

You’ll find the world’s highest zipline in the area, which soars above the Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River 100 feet below. You can also book a white water rafting tour along the bubbling Arkansas River or explore the red rock formations in the Garden of the Gods park. 

Telluride

Telluride Colorado Pin
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Telluride is a Victorian mining town in the Rocky Mountains. It was deemed a National Historic Landmark District in 1964 because of its colorful architecture, Victorian homes, and other historic buildings, such as the Sheridan Opera House and the Telluride Historical Museum. 

The mountains surrounding Telluride are popular for skiing. You can stay at the town’s ski and golf resort after spending a whole day shredding through the snowy slopes. 

Summers in Telluride are equally as popular. Travelers can hike to beautiful waterfalls, enjoy the fine dining of the historic town, and participate in the annual festivals that come to town. 

Grand Junction

Grand Junction Colorado Pin
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Located in Western Colorado, Grand Junction is famous for being the heart of the state’s wine country. The first grapevines were planted in the 1970s. Now, there are more than 20 wineries in the area. 

Besides visiting local wineries, you can explore the historic downtown area and the surrounding natural environment. Colorado National Monument is not far from the town, a park decorated in red sandstone canyons and monoliths.

You also have easy access to Colorado River State Park, which is great for camping, kayaking, kayak fishing, etc. 

Golden

Golden Colorado Pin
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Dubbed after its past as a former gold rush town, Golden is a centerpiece of western history and culture. Explore the town’s scenic beauty, tour the local breweries, stroll down Golden’s historic downtown area, and visit its history museum. 

Around the town, you will find freshwater creeks to swim in, canyons to ice climb, and mountains to hike. Check out Golden Gate Canyon State Park for some scenic wilderness views. 

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs Colorado Pin
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Steamboat Springs is a small town in Colorado best known for its ski resort. However, there is much more to Steamboat Springs than just skiing. The tourist destination is in a beautiful mountain setting, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy year-round. 

In the winter, visitors can hit the slopes at the ski resort or go cross-country skiing through the snow-covered trees. Hiking and mountain biking are popular activities in the summer, and the Yampa River offers excellent fishing and rafting opportunities. 

Steamboat Springs is also home to many festivals and events throughout the year, so there is always something to see and do. 

Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy some winter activities or want to experience all that Colorado offers, Steamboat Springs is worth a visit.

Fun Outdoor Activities in Colorado

Kayaking 

Colorado presents some of the best places to kayak in the entire United States. Whether you are a beginner hoping for some calm reservoirs, or a more experienced kayaker keen on whitewater rapids, you will find a place that suits your skill level.

Surrounded by the lush natural scenery of Colorado’s wilderness, paddlers will be surrounded by nature. 

Any avid kayaker will have the time of their life in the great state of Colorado- it is truly a kayaker’s paradise. 

Here are some of the best places in Colorado to Kayak: 

  • Arkansas River
  • Navajo Reservoir 
  • Eleven Mile Reservoir 
  • Lake Pueblo 
  • Rifle Gap
  • Pearl Lake
  • Colorado River
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Grand Lake

Don’t forget to take the appropriate gear when you go kayaking. You’ll want to have a dry bag to keep all your belongings safe. 

Hiking

Hiking is one of many fun things to do in Colorado, and the landscape is full of mountains and forests. The Rocky Mountains span the Western part of the state with numerous peaks that make beautiful hiking opportunities. In addition, there are hundreds of trails all around the state, ranging from easy one-mile walks to strenuous multi-day hikes. The variety of trails makes it a perfect destination for hikers of all experience levels. 

Here are some of the best hiking trails in Colorado:

  • Perkins Central Garden Trail 
    • Location: Colorado Springs (1.5 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 1.1 miles 
    • Difficulty: Easy
  • Maroon Bells Hike
    • Location: Snowmass Village (4 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 1 to 13 miles, depending on the trail 
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Emerald Lake Trail
    • Location: Estes Park (2 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 3.2 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • First and Second Flatiron Loop
    • Location: Boulder (30 minutes from Denver)
    • Distance: 2.6 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Hanging Lake Hike
    • Location: Glenwood Springs (3 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 2.4 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Alberta Falls
  • Glacier Gorge Trail
    • Location: Estes Park (2 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 9.4 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Cascade Creek Trail at Crater Lake
    • Location: Granby (2.5 hours drive from Denver)
    • Distance: 16 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Star Dune
    • Location: Alamosa (3 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 8 miles 
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Longs Peak via Keyhole Route
    • Location: Estes Park (2 hours from Denver)
    • Distance: 14.8 miles
    • Difficulty: Expert
  • Four Pass Loop
    • Location: Aspen 
    • Distance: 25.7 miles 
    • Difficulty: Expert

White water rafting 

Every year, the snow atop the Rocky Mountains melts and trickles down into Colorado’s two major rivers- the Arkansas River and the Colorado River. These lead to numerous other waterways that run throughout the state. 

Because of the multitudes of rivers and streams, Colorado has become one of the top destinations in the US for white water rafting. 

There are numerous outfitters who can take you on a rafting trip as a group, or solo in an inflatable kayak.

Here are some of Colorado’s best white water rafting locations: 

  • Bighorn Sheep Canyon (Arkansas River)
  • Clear Creek Park
  • Browns Canyon National Monument (Arkansas River)
  • Royal Gorge (Arkansas River)
  • Glenwood Canyon (Colorado River)
  • Lower Animas River in Durango
  • Yampa River in Steamboat Springs
  • Piedra River in Pagosa Springs
  • Dolores River in Cortez

Fishing

Fishing is another fun thing to do in Colorado, as many locals and travelers cast a line. The large waterway system across the state gives individuals plenty of options for fishing. Rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, ponds, and more- whatever your fishing style is, you are sure to find a place for you. 

A fishing kayak is a great way to explore the waterways and cast your line.

Here are some of the best places to fish in Colorado: 

  • Rio Grande River
    • Location: Between Del Norte and South Fork
  • Gore Creek
    • Location: Vail
  • Roaring Fork River 
    • Location: Aspen
  • Upper Arkansas River
    • Location: Leadville
  • Gunnison River
    • Location: Gunnison 
  • Animas River
    • Location: Durango
  • Grand Lake
    • Location: Grand Lake
  • Spinney Mountain Reservoir
    • Location: Park County
  • North Delaney Butte Lake
    • Location: Jackson County

Paddleboarding

The many reservoirs and lakes around Colorado make for excellent paddleboard locations. In addition, there is an opportunity to paddle wherever there is a state park with a body of water. Not only is it fun, but the views of the wilderness around the bodies of water are stunning. 

Here are some of the best places in Colorado to go paddleboarding

  • Grand Lake
  • Dillon Reservoir
  • Lake San Cristobal
  • Boulder Reservoir
  • Horsetooth Reservoir
  • Big Soda Lake
  • Cherry Creek Reservoir
  • Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park
  • Blue Mesa Reservoir
  • Vallecito Lake

If you plan to carry your valuables while you go paddleboarding, remember to keep them safely stored in a waterproof backpack. 

Skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding trails in Colorado are some of the best you will find in the entire country. The soaring mountain ranges and dry, powdery snow make for some of the most thrilling slopes. 

Ski resorts in Colorado range from luxury to family-friendly. Colorado has it all, whether you’re looking for an amenities-heavy resort or a cozy cabin. 

When it comes to choosing the right ski resort to stay at, you’ll want to examine your skill level, budget, the time of the year, and location preference. Narrowing down your options will help you pick the right place for you.

Here are some of Colorado’s top ski and snowboard resorts: 

  • Vail Mountain Resort
    • Location: Vail 
    • Known for: best skiing, fantastic terrain, beginner to expert runs
  • Aspen Snowmass
    • Location: Aspen 
    • Known for: four different mountains, a massive amount of terrain, beginner to expert runs
  • Telluride Ski Resort
    • Location: Telluride
    • Known for: scenic runs, consistent snowfall, remote setting, best ski town
  • Beaver Creek Resort
    • Location: Vail
    • Known for: Family-friendly, fun atmosphere, good customer service 
  •  Breckenridge Ski Resort
    • Location: Breckenridge
    • Known for: high alpine bowls, the highest chairlift in North America, advanced skiing
  • Keystone Resort
    • Location: River Run and Lakeside
    • Known for: family-friendly, beautiful views
  • Purgatory Resort
    • Location: Durango 
    • Known for: family-friendly, old-school feel, affordable prices
  • Steamboat Ski Resort
    • Location: Telluride
    • Known for: fluffy snow, great tree-skiing, bearable altitude 

Rock climbing 

Colorado’s staggering canyon walls and steep mountainsides make for fantastic rock climbing. With all of the sharp, rocky peaks, you’ll be sure to find jaw-dropping climbing destinations all around the state. 

Here are some of the best places in Colorado to rock climb: 

  • Garden of the Gods
    • Location: Colorado Springs
    • Skill level: Novice through expert
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
    • Location: Between Estes Park and Grand lake
    • Skill level: Novice through expert
  • Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park
    • Location: Montrose
    • Skill level: Expert
  • Rifle Mountain Park
    • Location: Rifle
    • Skill level: Intermediate through Expert
  • Castlewood Canyon State Park  
    • Location: Franktown
    • Skill level: Novice

Horseback riding 

Colorado is an incredible place to gallop through nature on the back of a horse and imagine what it was like to live in the old western days. In addition, you can go on an organized horseback riding tour around some of Colorado’s state and national parks. 

You can choose to take a quick trip or even multi-day trips across the stunning backcountry. While longer trips can be challenging, it’s the closest thing you will find to experiencing the authentic cowboy lifestyle. 

Here are the best places in Colorado to book a horseback riding tour:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Estes Park
  • Colorado’s many Dude and Guest Ranches 

Mountain biking

The Colorado Rockies offer incredible trails that bikers love to sail down on two wheels. Ride through the impressive canyons, past the stunning mountainside views, as you pedal deeper into the Colorado wilderness. 

Here are some of Colorado’s best biking paths: 

  • Horse Gulch
    • Location: Durango 
    • Distance: various lengths 
    • Difficulty: all levels
  • Doctor Park Trail
    • Location: Crested Butte
    • Distance: 19.3 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Monarch Crest Trail  
    • Location: Salida
    • Distance: 31.3 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Buffalo Creek
    • Location: Pine
    • Distance: 13 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Government Trail
    • Location: Aspen
    • Distance: 19 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Lunch Loop Trail
    • Location: Grand Junction
    • Distance: 20+ miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Divide Trail
    • Location: Steamboat Springs
    • Distance: 26 miles 
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • The Colorado Trail
    • Location: Waterton Canyon or Silverton to Durango
    • Distance: 540 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult

ATVing

With no shortage of backcountry roads, ATVing has become a prevalent activity around Colorado. Compared to hiking and biking, this faster form of transportation can take you longer distances in a shorter amount of time while still allowing you to witness the spectacular views of Colorado’s wilderness. 

If you are looking for fun things to do in Colorado, ATVing needs to be on your list.

Here are some of the best places in Colorado for ATVing:

  • Rollins Pass East
    • Location: Nederland
    • Distance: 12.3 miles
    • Difficulty: Easy
  • Alpine Loop
    • Location: Silverton
    • Distance: 65 miles
    • Difficulty: Easy/moderate
  • Tellurium Creek 
    • Location: Taylor Park
    • Distance: 12.4 miles
    • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Black Bear Pass
    • Location: Silverton
    • Distance: 8.5 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Webster Pass
  • Location: Montezuma
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Hancock Pass
    • Location: St. Elmo
    • Distance: 44 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Yankee Boy Basin
    • Location: Ouray
    • Distance: 9.4 miles
    • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Devil’s Punchbowl
    • Location: Crested Butte
    • Distance: 6 miles
    • Difficulty: Extreme

Camping

Camping is one of many fun things to do in Colorado, and for good reason. With incredible mountain ranges, crystal clear lakes, and abundant green forests, Colorado offers many different camping options. There’s nothing quite like pitching a tent in the vast wilderness of Colorado and cooking meals over the fire as you gaze up at the twinkling stars. 

With so many camping options, it can be tough to choose. Here are some of the best places to camp in Colorado and the unique things they offer:

  • Maroon Bells
    • Location: Aspen
    • Known for: iconic landscapes, walk-in sites, clear lake
  • Steamboat Lake Park 
    • Location: Steamboat Springs
    • Known for: hiking trails, scenic camping spots, marina with rentals, wildlife
  • Moraine Park Campground
  • Pinyon Flats Campground 
    • Location: Great Sand Dunes National Park
    • Known for: exotic camping, sand dunes, stargazing
  • Big Creek Lakes Campground
    • Location: Walden
    • Known for: near Wyoming border, remote location, blue alpine lake, hiking trails
  • Gunnison National Forest
    • Location: Crested Butte
    • Known for: riverside camping, coziness, tents only, fishing
  • Sunshine Campground
    • Location: Telluride
    • Known for: easy access, dense aspen forest, peace & quiet

National Parks 

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is a natural wonder of Colorado, boasting sand dunes that tower up to 750 feet high (higher than anywhere else in the United States). 

This is a must-visit destination for those who have never seen the sprawling ocean-like heaps of sands that make up dune deserts. You can also try your hand at sandboarding and sand sledding down the slopes of the dunes. 

Other than the great sand dunes, the park also hosts a variety of hiking trails and ATVing opportunities, such as the Medano Pass, a 25-mile road that leads from the park to the town of Gardner.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is undoubtedly the most popular national park in the state. The Rocky Mountains span much of western Colorado, but the park is located between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the neighboring towns. 

The park is pure wilderness; looming mountains going over 14,000 feet into the sky, rushing rivers, and thousands of acres of wildlife-filled evergreen forests. It is truly an American classic, which is why so many people flock there each year. 

There are innumerable activities offered within the park, including hiking, biking, rafting, swimming, fishing, and enjoying the many beautiful overlooking scenic viewpoints. 

Mesa Verde National Park 

Mesa Verde National Park was previously the dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people for over 700 years. They lived on the cliff sides of the park and built their homes in carved-out formations.  

It is incredibly fascinating to see where these ancient people lived for so much of history. You can take a guided tour around the constructed homes and climb ladders up to the dwellings on the cliff ledges. You will also learn about the past lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 

The Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park plunges 2,700 feet into the earth, with immense black canyon walls displaying many millions of time layers. You’ll not see anything like the gorge anywhere else in the US. The sheer size of it is incredible. 

You can explore the inner canyon of the gorge or walk some of the many hiking trails around it. The wilderness makes it an excellent place to watch for wildlife, such as deer, elk, and Golden eagles. It’s also a great place to do some fishing.

State Parks 

Cherry Creek State Park

Cherry Creek State Park is a beautiful haven not far from Denver, great for a quick respite from the hustle of city life. It has a lovely recreational area, hiking trails, and fun water activities such as boating, jet-skiing, canoeing, paddleboarding, etc. 

The Rocky Mountains are situated beside the park, an entrance into the wilderness beyond. Venture down some hiking trails to see some wildlife creatures scampering about. 

There are also campground spaces in the park for those who wish to stay overnight and sleep in the peace and quiet of Colorado’s nature. 

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Golden Gate Canyon State Park sits 30 miles west of Colorado’s capital, the metropolitan city of Denver. It features a multitude of campsites, hiking trails, and great fishing opportunities. As a result, it is completely normal to spot moose, Golden eagles, black bears, foxes, and other interesting critters. 

The park also offers seasonal activities. You can grab your mittens during the wintertime and go cross-country skiing across the white landscape. You can also enjoy some ice fishing with your friends or skate across the various frozen ponds around the park. 

Ridgway State Park

Ridgway State Park sits approximately 15 miles from the small scenic town of Ouray. The park offers modern, accessible campsites and recreation areas and heaps of activities, including fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, ice climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, and more.

With incredible scenic spots for large gatherings, this is a great place to bring your family. According to the readers of USA Today, it was also voted one of the Top 10 RV Park and Campgrounds in the USA. 

Barr Lake State Park

Barr Lake State Park is centered around the incredible Barr Lake, a perfect destination for fishing lovers and boaters. It is only a short drive from Denver, but it feels completely immersed in Colorado’s wilderness. 

The park has a very popular 8.8-mile loop used by hikers, bikers, wildlife viewers, and horseback riders alike. 

Anglers will be excited to know the lake holds species, including rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, wiper, channel catfish, and small and largemouth bass. Those who enjoy bird watching will be equally pleased to hear that over 350 species of bird have been spotted in the park, including many bald eagles. 

Eleven Mile State Park

Eleven Mile State Park is one of the largest reservoirs in the state, making it an amazing place to go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, boating, and swimming. In addition, the park has 325 campsites open to the public, a playground, a picnic area, a marina, and more. 

The surrounding nature features an alpine meadow 8,600 feet above sea level, incredible mountain views, and rocky ridges. The lake is clean, clear, and fresh- a picture-perfect vision of pure nature. 

Arkansas Headwaters

One of the most popular white water rafting and kayaking destinations in the entire US is Arkansas Headwaters. It acts as a great entry point to the Arkansas River.

Book a white water rafting tour to splash through the intense rapids of the river while you hold on tight to your paddle. For a more relaxed activity, you can test your fishing skills and try to catch some rainbow trout. 

Besides river activities, the park also has many hiking trails, campsites, mountain biking paths, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing. The inspiring canyons, valleys, and mountain peaks will have you feeling refreshed and at peace in some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery. 

Other Beautiful Sites 

Colorado National Monument

The land considered Colorado National Monument is some of the most breathing scenery in the entire state. The landscape is truly a picture of the American West, with rocky red canyons, towering plateaus, and dizzying monoliths surrounded by arid desert. 

Stop by the Colorado National Monument simply to bask in the impressive views. It is close to the city of Grand Junction, an easy stop if you’re in the area. Don’t forget to look out for eagles and bighorn sheep. 

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater sits about ten miles from Denver, an open-air theater built into the red rock canyons, making it one of the coolest music venues you could go to. Concerts are lined up every weekend at the amphitheater, all throughout the summer. 

The Red Rocks Amphitheater hosts other fantastic events at the outdoor park, including yoga classes, film screenings, and other fun fitness activities. 

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake is a national natural landmark, an example of an extremely rare occurrence when the bed of a lake drops away from the valley floor, causing the water to flow into the lake below. 

To get to Hanging Like, you have to hike 1.2 miles of steep, rocky terrain that gains about 1,200 feet of elevation. It starts from Glenwood Canyon and ascends through Deadhorse Creek Canyon. Though the trek can be a bit tiresome, it’s worth experiencing the natural phenomenon of Hanging Lake. 

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway

No matter how short, taking a road trip is always a good idea in Colorado. The complete San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway Loop will take you about seven hours of driving. 

On the road, you’ll be twisting through Colorado’s beautiful forests, passing old mining towns, and sailing by steep cliff faces that will have you clutching the steering wheel a bit tighter. Be cautious near the drop-offs, as there are often no guard rails to stop the car from falling off the road. 

Be sure to make many stops along the way to fully appreciate the beautiful scenery and the many small towns you will pass. 

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. It sits 60 miles west of Denver and climbs over 7,000 feet along its 28-mile route. 

You officially start the drive from Idaho Springs, ending it on your arrival at the top of Mount Evans. Next, you will pass the incredible Continental Divide, taking in the views of distant mountain ranges, crystal blue lakes, and even glaciers. 

The views keep getting better and better as you ascend the mountain and witness the breathtaking scenery below. Don’t forget to watch out for mountain goats and bighorn sheep on the road.

Cool and Unusual Things to do in Colorado 

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument is an incredible display of the fossilized remains of dinosaurs within the rocky cliff faces of the land. Visitors can see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils, including entire dinosaur skulls. 

The monument is located beside the Uinta mountain, on the border between Colorado and Utah. It is said that the dinosaur fossils on display there are approximately 150 million years old.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Nestled on the banks of the Arkansas River in Colorado, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site offers a window into the past. Named for its original owners, brothers Charles and William Bent, the fort was built in 1833 to trade with local Native American tribes. 

Today, the fort has been reconstructed to its original size and houses a museum with exhibits on the life of early settlers. Visitors can also take part in self-guided or guided tours.

With its $10 entrance fee (kids under 15 are free!), Bent’s Old Fort is a great way to step back in time without breaking the bank. So whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a unique day trip, be sure to add Bent’s Old Fort to your list!

Nevadaville Ghost Town

Not far from Central City is Nevadaville Ghost Town, an eerie abandoned western town from the late 1800s. The town was abandoned after its gold and silver ran out around 1900. 

Walking through the town is like traveling back in time. Although the buildings are run down, and there are no longer any people living there, it’s easy to imagine what it may have looked like before. 

You’ll pass the city hall, the old trading post, and abandoned storefronts. Even an old mine has long since run out of business. 

Colorado Springs Sunrise Balloon Tour

If you’ve never gone on a hot air balloon ride before, Colorado Springs is undoubtedly one of the cooler places to do it. They last approximately one hour and fly over Colorado Springs as the sun rises on the horizon. 

You’ll pass the incredible Rocky Mountains and see the famous Pikes Peak rising. Seeing Colorado (and the Pikes Peak region) from the sky will give you a new perspective on the landscape and the beauty of the nature it holds. 

Museum of the Mountain West

For history buffs, the Museum of the Mountain West is a must-stop. It holds numerous historical artifacts from throughout Colorado’s history. 

However, this is not your usual museum. Not only does it display small artifacts, but it also has moved entire buildings to be part of the site! All the artifacts are then displayed in authentic settings, which is one of the best ways to learn about the old West and Colorado’s history. 

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

History lovers will also be excited to know that there is a museum entirely dedicated to the life of Buffalo Bill, an American buffalo hunter, soldier, and showman. He is most famous for giving the Wild West its name. 

You can learn about Buffalo Bill’s life by checking out some of the museum’s displays. You can even visit his actual burial ground and look at items he once owned. In addition, some excellent interactive exhibits are great for kids. 

Bishop Castle

Bishop Castle is one of the more unique Colorado tourist attractions. The castle was built entirely by one man named Jim Bishop throughout his life. It started when he bought a mere 2.5 acres of land at 15 years old. Since there were so many rocks, he began building a stone cabin. However, the stone cabin soon became an even bigger dream- one the size of a castle. 

As stories of Jim’s castle spread, people began to flock there to witness the miracle of one man building his dream from scratch. Today, the castle stands impressively within the Colorado wilderness, a magnificent creation of iron and stone. 

Garden Park Fossil Area

Garden Park Fossil Area is another popular site dedicated to displaying ancient dinosaur bones. It holds an impressive display of Jurassic dinosaurs dug up in Garden Park since 1877. There have been some significant discoveries made in this area about knowledge of the dinosaurs. 

The area also holds fossils from other prehistoric creatures, including turtles, crocodiles, flora, etc. Many of the fossils dug up here are now featured in museums all over the country. 

Pueblo Levee Mural

The Pueblo Levee Mural is the longest painting in the world. It runs 3 miles along a levee of the Arkansas River. Initially started in the 1970s, people have continued to add to it over the years. 

Though you probably won’t get to see the entirety of the mural, it is fantastic to take a walk along the levee and check out some of the beautiful paintings on it. 

Carousel of Happiness

The Carousel of Happiness is located in Nederland, Colorado. It is a carousel hand-crafted by Charles I.D. Looff was one of the most renowned carousel makers in the late 19th century. He was born in Denmark but moved to New York City at a young age to begin work on Coney Island’s carousel. 

The carousel has become more and more well known through its incredible feats of survival, even during the unlikeliest of circumstances. It has survived severe fires and wind storms. It lasted even when all the attractions around it were destroyed. 

Against all odds, the carousel persisted. Today, you can still take a ride on the spectacular Carousel of Happiness. 

Conclusion

With so many things to do in Colorado, you could easily spend a lifetime there. So it’s genuinely no wonder why so many people are escaping the bustling coastal cities and moving inland into Colorado’s incredible natural world. 

The tranquil wilderness, charming small city life, and incredible adventure activities make Colorado a one-of-a-kind destination that will have you itching to go back.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.