From skiing at world-class resorts to hiking through otherworldly state parks, Colorado is a dynamic state with so many things to do. Whether you’re planning an epic road trip or looking for some adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, Colorado has something for everyone!
The Centennial State is an amazing destination to visit any time of year. In the winter, you can speed down the powdery slopes at Aspen or Vail, explore the bustling downtown districts of Denver and Boulder, or go snowshoeing in Black Canyon or Breckenridge.
With so many phenomenal national parks, the summer is the perfect time to camp under the stars at Rocky Mountain National Park or take a hike through the funky rock formations at the Garden of the Gods. If you’re looking for some action in one of Colorado’s buzzing cities, you can catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, sample award-winning local craft beer in Boulder, or take a drive up to Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs!
With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Colorado. Stick to these fun and unique Colorado bucket list recommendations and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this remarkable corner of the world!
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- 25 Cool and Unique Things To Do in Colorado
- 1. Hit the Slopes in Vail
- 2. Hunt for Fossils in Dinosaur National Monument
- 3. Take a Scenic Drive Through Colorado National Monument
- 4. Experience the Rugged Natural Beauty of Black Canyon
- 5. Take a Steamy Soak in Strawberry Hot Springs
- 6. Marvel at Picture-Perfect Hanging Lake
- 7. Rub Shoulders with the Rich and Famous in Aspen
- 8. Hike to the Picturesque Maroon Bells
- 9. Wine, Dine, and Shop in Denver’s Historic Larimer Square
- 10. Root for the Rockies at Coors Field
- 11. Indulge in a Denver Omelet
- 12. See a Concert at Red Rocks
- 13. Follow the Boozy Boulder Beer Trail
- 14. Stroll Along Pearl Street Mall
- 15. Try Colorado-Style Pizza At Beau Jo’s
- 16. Visit Vibrant Breckenridge in the Summer
- 17. Spend a Spooky Night in the Hotel Room that Inspired “The Shining”
- 18. Go Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
- 19. Drive to the Top of Pikes Peak
- 20. Hike in the Garden of the Gods
- 21. Walk Across the Highest Suspension Bridge in the US
- 22. Go Sandboarding in Great Sand Dunes National Park
- 23. Marvel at the Ancient Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park
- 24. Stand in Four States at once at Four Corners Monument
- 25. Go Back in Time on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
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25 Cool and Unique Things To Do in Colorado
1. Hit the Slopes in Vail
If you’re headed to Colorado in the winter, going skiing or snowboarding in Vail is a must. Vail Mountain Resort is arguably the best ski resort in Colorado – and even in the US – which is saying a lot!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an expert because Vail Mountain Resort has something to suit all levels. You can serpentine down the long groomed runs, dodge alpine trees and moguls on the more advanced trails, or take on one of Vail’s legendary powder-filled back bowls!
With 5,289 acres, 31 lifts, and multiple terrain parks, you can easily spend a week skiing or snowboarding on this world-famous mountain. Plus, Vail typically gets more than 320 inches of snow each season, which means you’ll likely experience good conditions on this massive mountain.
If snow sports aren’t you’re thing, then head into Vail Village. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains, the village is lined with adorable Bavarian-style buildings. The city of Vail is actually quite large so you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained. Vail Village is the prime spot to base yourself if you want to hit the slopes, go shopping, or dine at one of the city’s high-end restaurants.
2. Hunt for Fossils in Dinosaur National Monument
Located in northwest Colorado on the border with Utah, you’ll find one of the most unique Colorado attractions. Paleontologist Earl Douglass discovered the area’s spectacular dinosaur fossil beds in 1909. Dinosaur National Monument was later declared a national monument in 1915.
The main attraction is Quarry Exhibit Hall, where you can see and (in some cases) touch over 1,500 dinosaur fossils displayed on the Wall of Bones. The wall reveals everything from dinosaur remains pressed into rocks to perfectly preserved skeletons. Over the years, archaeologists have unearthed 11 dinosaur species in this quarry, including stegosaurus and allosaurus.
If you want to go fossil hunting you can hike along the 1.2-mile Fossil Discovery Trail. Keep your eyes peeled for dinosaur bones and fossils! You can also get a guided tour if you’re interested in learning more about the fossils.
The Swelter Shelter area of the park boasts some ancient petroglyphs with amazingly preserved carvings and paintings. You’ll see depictions of funky animals and human figures carved into the sides of massive rocks.
Dinosaur National Monument isn’t all about fossils and petroglyphs. It’s also a prime spot for hiking, rafting, mountain biking, and much more!
3. Take a Scenic Drive Through Colorado National Monument
With its towering rock formations, dramatic red rock canyons, and stunning vistas, it’s no wonder why a visit to Colorado National Monument is one of the top things to do in Colorado. Whether you want to hike, mountain bike, or drive, there are so many ways to explore this 23,000-acre park.
If you only have time to do one thing, the historic Rim Rock Drive is a must. This is arguably one of the most scenic drives in the US! The winding road is 23 miles long with 16 switchbacks leading you to most of the park’s main attractions.
Along the way, you can stop off for a 3.4-mile hike on the popular Serpents Trail to glimpse incredible views over Grand Junction. Be sure to stop at Red Canyon Overlook, Fallen Rock Overlook, and Ute Canyon Overlook.
Photographers will definitely want to spend some time at Highland View Overlook during sunrise or sunset. As one of the highest lookouts in Colorado National Monument, the panoramic views of the rugged cliffs and funky rock formations are unbeatable. Balanced Rock is another popular spot for Insta-worthy photos!
You probably won’t want to be the one driving because you won’t want to miss out on the views!
4. Experience the Rugged Natural Beauty of Black Canyon
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park might be the most underrated national park in Colorado. Located in western Colorado, 75 miles southeast of Grand Junction, this rather remote national park receives just over 300,000 visitors each year. Compare that to the nearly 5 million people who flock to Rocky Mountain National Park and you’ll feel like you have this place all to yourself!
Black Canyon is known for its otherworldly landscapes. Perch yourself at one of the many lookout points and watch as the narrow Gunnison River snakes through the rugged 2,000-foot walls of Black Canyon. The skinny gorge only sees 33 minutes of sunlight each day, which is why it’s named Black Canyon!
Another unique aspect of Black Canyon is that it’s an International Dark Sky Park, meaning you can do some phenomenal stargazing here. Camping overnight at one of the three campgrounds is highly recommended if you’re planning a visit to this beautiful corner of the world.
The two best ways to explore the park are via the North and South rims. The South Rim is open year-round and is the more popular route. The North Rim is closed from November to April but it does offer the best views of the gorge!
5. Take a Steamy Soak in Strawberry Hot Springs
If you’re planning a ski trip to Steamboat Springs this winter, definitely make a stop off at the magical Strawberry Park Hot Springs. The springs are nestled at the top of a valley and surrounded by snow-capped mountains and aspen trees, making the scene even more special.
There are four hot pools and one ultra-cold pool for those willing to take the chilling plunge! The hot springs range from 102 to 107 degrees and are perfect for relaxing, especially after a day on the slopes.
Everything on the 40-acre resort is built using wood and stone elements in order to maintain a natural and rustic atmosphere. If you decide to visit at night, make sure to bring a flashlight to navigate the area. One fun fact is that once night falls, bathing suits are totally optional (though you have to be over 18 to enjoy the springs at night)!
The hot springs are open year-round and are located just seven miles from Steamboat. If you plan on visiting, you must first make a reservation online and then pay $20 in cash at the cute vintage truck at the entrance.
6. Marvel at Picture-Perfect Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake might just be the prettiest place in Colorado. And if you’re a hiker, a trip to this National Natural Landmark should definitely be on your Colorado bucket list. There’s a reason this is one of the most popular hikes in the state!
The trail is only 1.6 miles long, but that doesn’t mean this hike is easy – it’s actually classified as “difficult.” The trail ascends roughly 1,000 feet along Dead Horse Creek. Expect the steep, rocky, and sweaty hike to take around 2-4 hours, depending on your fitness level and how many stops you make.
Along the way, you’ll cross bridges, pass by waterfalls, and pick wild raspberries. Once you reach the top, you’ll find a picturesque waterfall cascading into the crystal clear turquoise Hanging Lake. Make sure to take time to explore the area.
It’s important to note that you do need to make reservations and obtain a paid permit before visiting Hanging Lake. Because Hanging Lake is a travertine lake with an ultra-sensitive eco-system, visitors are asked to follow some pretty strict rules. Swimming in or even touching the water is an absolute no-no.
The lake is located near Glenwood Springs, roughly three hours from Denver.
7. Rub Shoulders with the Rich and Famous in Aspen
Aspen is a tiny town tucked away in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains. It may be home to less than 8,000 residents, but this famous little town boasts some of the best ski resorts in the US.
It also happens to be a mecca for Hollywood celebrities, many of whom own homes on what is known as “Billionaire Mountain.” Celebrities like the Kardashian-Jenner family, Kate Hudson, and Mariah Carey have helped put this ski town on the map. If you want to ski where the stars do, definitely hit up either Aspen Mountain or Aspen Snowmass resorts.
If you’re planning a trip to Aspen, be prepared to shell out some serious cash. After all, it is the most expensive ski resort in the US. That being said, you’ll experience some of the best skiing in the world, have a blast wining and dining downtown, and you might spot a celebrity or two!
If you want to live like an A-lister on your Aspen vacation, be sure to grab a craft cocktail at Little Nell’s Living Room, go to a hedonistic pool party at 39 Degrees Lounge, or spend a night at The St. Regis Aspen. Not only will you be living like a celebrity, but you’ll likely be hanging out with them!
8. Hike to the Picturesque Maroon Bells
If you’re Aspen-bound, don’t miss out on one of the best things to do in Colorado! The Maroon Bells are comprised of two peaks – Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak – set in the Elk Mountains, just 12 miles from Aspen. The wilderness area is one of the most protected and naturally beautiful places in the US.
What makes these peaks unique is that they are both 14ers: mountains that are more than 14,000 feet high. If you’re an avid and super experienced climber, summiting one or both of these peaks should definitely be on your Colorado bucket list. The climb is challenging and falling rocks are perilous, so it’s best to go with an experienced guide.
But you don’t have to be a climber to experience the natural beauty of Maroon Bells. The 182,000-acre wilderness area boasts dozens of hiking trails suitable for all levels.
Maroon Bells Lake Scenic Trail is an easy 1.5-mile hike along the lakeshore. It’s the perfect spot to take photos or enjoy a picnic lunch. You can also opt for the ultra-popular (and slightly challenging) 3.6-mile hike to the stunning Crater Lake.
Whatever you decide, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a reason Maroon Bells are most the photographed mountains in the US!
9. Wine, Dine, and Shop in Denver’s Historic Larimer Square
If you’re headed to Denver, chances are you’ll be paying a visit to The Mile High City’s historic Larimer Square. Located in downtown Denver, the city’s first historic district is one block long and lined with beautiful red brick buildings, picturesque string lights, and lush trees. Larimer Square was founded in 1858 and is now home to hip boutiques, excellent bistros, and vibrant wine bars and clubs.
Larimer Square is a great destination for foodies. Most of the area’s innovative restaurants are inspired by Mediterranean countries. There are tons of great options but be sure to try the acclaimed “Continental Social Food” at Tag and the award-winning handmade pastas at Rioja. If you’re in the mood for a tipple, head to the area’s only Champagne bar, Corridor 44, or pay a visit to the Prohibition-era cocktail bar, Green Russel.
10. Root for the Rockies at Coors Field
If you’re a baseball fan and you’re planning a visit to the state’s capital, you should definitely go to a Colorado Rockies game. Coors Field is conveniently located in Denver’s hip Lower Downtown neighborhood (or LoDo, as locals refer to it). It’s just blocks away from the famous 16th Street Mall, so there’s plenty to keep you busy before and after the game.
If you want to be able to see the Rocky Mountains, get seats in the upper decks. Sections 305-319 are ideal for good views. Or if you’re willing to make the climb, you can even sit in the row of purple seats, which are famously one mile above sea level!
No baseball game is complete without a beer and some ballpark food. Luckily, Coors Field is famous for its quality beer and creative culinary concoctions.
If you’re hungry, you can nosh on crispy tenders from Tenders, Love, and Chicken, indulge in a cherry and habanero-infused Jack-A-Lope sausage from Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dog, or snack on a helmet full of Totchos (tater top nachos) from the Rooftop at Section 306.
If you’re thirsty, grab a Coors or craft beer at the Coors Light Silver Bullet Bar and then head back to your seat and enjoy the game!
11. Indulge in a Denver Omelet
You can’t go to Denver without having at least one Denver omelet! Made from eggs, ham, green peppers, onions, and cheese, the Denver omelet is an American staple. But the origins of this breakfast food are shrouded in mystery.
Rumor has it that the Denver omelet was originally a Denver sandwich. The sandwich was such a hit that it was ubiquitous across the US from the 1950s to the 1970s. To this day, it’s unclear who actually created the original Denver sandwich.
In the early 1900s, numerous Denver restaurateurs claimed to have invented it. However, some speculate that Chinese immigrants working on the transcontinental railroad would put eggs in between sliced bread to make it easier to eat on the job. Others claim that cowboys added peppers and onions to their egg sandwiches to cover the flavor of their not-so-fresh eggs during cattle drives.
Either way, the Denver sandwich disappeared from menus across the US in the 1980s and was mysteriously replaced by the breadless Denver omelet. But if you do want to sample a variation of the historic Denver sandwich, head on over to Li’l Nick’s Pizza just outside of the city. Or you can order up the best Denver omelet in town at The Delectable Egg!
12. See a Concert at Red Rocks
Seeing one of your favorite bands perform at Red Rocks Amphitheater should be on everyone’s Colorado bucket list. As the name implies, the sprawling open-air stadium was built into the area’s stunning ochre sandstone formations. This amphitheater is so spectacular it was even declared a National Historic Landmark in 2015!
The surrounding rocks somehow create the perfect acoustics for live performances. Whether you’re into rock, opera, or folk music, Red Rocks hosts a diverse range of concerts. Countless iconic bands and musicians have graced the stage at Red Rocks – from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix and John Denver. Not only is this a great venue to hear live music, but many musicians have chosen this spot to record live shows, music videos, and albums, including Dave Matthews Band, U2, and Neil Young.
The unique venue is located 15 minutes from Denver so it’s well worth looking up who’s performing if you’re planning a trip to the city. With over 9,500 seats, getting to Red Rocks can be a bit hectic but you won’t be disappointed. It’s best to get there early and you can even hop on the Red Rocks Shuttle if you don’t want to drive!
13. Follow the Boozy Boulder Beer Trail
You simply can’t visit Boulder without imbibing in its famous craft beers. The city boasts an astonishing number of microbreweries and taprooms so you’ll be spoiled for choice. In case you don’t know where to start, simply follow the Boulder Beer Trail to sample some of the city’s best brews!
The Boulder Beer Trail takes you on a self-guided tour of six different breweries, starting in the east end of town and ending in the west. Depending on how much time you have, you can hit them all in one boozy day or spread them out during your trip to Boulder.
Start with a pint of The Post Brewing Co.’s award-winning Howdy Western Pilsner. Your next stop is local favorite Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery where you can also snag some free fries! Then head over to the Oskar Blues Taproom on the famous Pearl Street.
After that, stroll to the historic West End Tavern where you can sip craft beer and munch on their famous barbecue. If you still have room, head over to West Flanders and order their signature creation, the Tripple Lutz. Finally, end your tipsy tour at Bohemian Biergarten for German-style beer and pretzels!
14. Stroll Along Pearl Street Mall
You can’t visit Boulder without spending at least a few hours exploring the vibrant Pearl Street Mall. This 4-block pedestrian mall is where all the action is at! Plus it completely encapsulates Boulder’s whimsical and bohemian character.
You’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, chain and boutique shops, art galleries, and local microbreweries here. There are over 1,000 businesses in the area, so there really is something for everyone. And the quirky street performers and live musicians offer endless entertainment, especially for your little ones.
If you’re into art, books, and live music then you absolutely have to visit the Boulder Book Store and the Boulder Theater. And food lovers will be overwhelmed with choice. A visit to Lucile’s Creole Cafe, Jax Fish House, and the farm-to-table SALT are highly recommended.
If you’re looking for something extra unique, enjoy an afternoon tea at Dushanbe Teahouse. Featuring intricate mosaics, the completely handcrafted restaurant was shipped from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan! This is yet another one of Pearl Street’s main attractions.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Boulder in July you might even be lucky enough to catch the Pearl Street Arts Fest.
15. Try Colorado-Style Pizza At Beau Jo’s
From Denver to Colorado Springs, Colorado is a great state for foodies. But did you know that the Centennial State is known for its unique take on pizza? The Colorado-style pizza (aka the Colorado mountain pie) was first created at Beau Jo’s original Idaho Springs location in 1973.
What makes this indulgent dish unique is that the dough is made with honey instead of sugar. The crust is then braided so it can support the massive (and we mean massive) amounts of sauce, cheese, and toppings. Their pizzas are actually sold by the pound so come hungry and go big!
At Beau Jo’s you can choose from over 50 toppings. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered a side of honey with your pie – at Beau Jo’s it’s tradition to dunk your crust in the honey dip. It might sound weird but it’s delicious!
The Colorado-style pizza has proven to be such a hit that Beau Jo’s now has locations in Idaho Springs, Ft. Collins, Evergreen, Steamboat Springs, Arvada, and Longmont. So if you’re visiting any of these cities during your trip, make sure to sample Colorado’s famous pizza!
16. Visit Vibrant Breckenridge in the Summer
Breckenridge is best known for its famous ski resort, but there are tons of reasons to visit this quaint mountain town in the summer months. Breck, as the locals call it, is an old mining town that’s chock full of history. With its friendly residents and picture-perfect Victorian buildings, it just oozes charm.
There’s a good reason tourists flock to Breckenridge in the summer. Surrounded by verdant forests and fields of wildflowers, there is no end of scenic hiking opportunities. If you’re looking for something more thrilling, you can paddleboard on the Lake Dillon Reservoir, fly-fish at Blue River, or go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River.
Breckenridge also hosts some awesome festivals each summer including the WAVE Light + Water + Sound Festival in June, the Food and Wine Festival in July, and the International Festival of Arts in August, to name a few.
If that’s not enough, Main Street and Ridge Street boast over 200 shops, boutiques, and eateries. You can sip on craft brews at Breckenridge Brewery, peruse the art at Breckenridge Gallery, or brunch in style at Blue River Bistro.
17. Spend a Spooky Night in the Hotel Room that Inspired “The Shining”
Built in 1909, the lavish Stanley Hotel was once a remote getaway for East Coast elites who were impressed by the hotel’s electric lights, steam cars, and uniformed staff. Located in Estes Park, just five miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, this 142-room Colonial Revival hotel was the inspiration behind Stephen King’s famous novel, The Shining (1977). If it weren’t for King’s serendipitous visit, the hotel would have likely fallen into ruins!
King spent one night at the rundown hotel in 1974. Because the hotel was closing for the season, he and his wife were the only guests in the sprawling, eerie hotel. After his wife went to bed, King threw back a few drinks at the bar and spent the night roaming the long hallways and grand hotel rooms.
After one night at the secluded and creepy mountain resort, The Shining was born! The Stanley Hotel was also featured as the fictitious haunted Overlook Hotel in the TV miniseries of The Shining in 1997. Because the hotel is rumored to be haunted, tons of horror and paranormal activity fans flock to the Stanley each year.
You can take a tour of the historic hotel, take a nighttime ghost tour, and even stay in room 217, where King stayed!
18. Go Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park
Located just 90 minutes from Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park has exploded in popularity in recent years. The park is roughly 415 square miles and boasts over 77 peaks and 156 lakes. With so much to see and do in Rocky Mountain National Park, camping out for a few days is the best way to make the most out of your trip.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park is such a popular activity, some visitors reserve their campsites six months in advance! Because there are only a few campsites in the area, we highly recommend planning ahead of time.
Moraine Park Campground is the largest and most coveted in the area because it offers the easiest access to the park. Plus, you’ll be right next to the scenic Trail Ridge Road and Bear Lake Road. The campground offers stunning mountain and alpine views and you’ll likely spot groups of elk!
Depending on the season, you can spend your days hiking the park’s countless trails, fishing for trout in the pristine lakes, chasing down waterfalls in the backcountry, cross-country skiing near Grand Lake, or spotting moose in Big Meadows. The options are endless!
19. Drive to the Top of Pikes Peak
If you’re looking for one of the best views in Colorado, a drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak is for you. This epic drive will take you 6,715 feet to 14,115 feet above sea level. Depending on the conditions, you’ll get stunning views of the mountains and have the chance to see four other states: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Kansas!
The paved road is 19 miles long, has 156 turns, and takes roughly 2 to 3 hours depending on how often you stop. It might sound perilous (it’s not!) but it’s definitely one of the coolest things to do in Colorado. There’s a reason it’s such a popular tourist attraction.
Pikes Peak is located 12 miles from Colorado Springs and is reachable via a paved 19-mile highway. There are a number of turnouts along the way where you can snap photos and enjoy the view. It’s also a good idea to pack a picnic lunch and stop off at one of the many picturesque picnic areas along the way.
Driving to Pikes Peak costs $15 for adults and $5 per child (6-15). Once you reach the top be sure to visit Summit House Restaurant which is famous for its one-of-a-kind donuts!
20. Hike in the Garden of the Gods
The majestic Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs, just over an hour from Denver, and it is hands down one of the best things to do in Colorado. This registered National Natural Landmark is famous for its slim, craggy red rock formations that jut hundreds of feet from the ground.
The park boasts 21 miles of trails, most of which are flat, easy, and short. The trails are popular spots to go jogging, hiking, mountain biking, and even horseback riding. If you’re short on time, you can enjoy the views on a scenic drive through the park or take a short stroll along the paved 1.5-mile Perkins Central Garden Trail.
Garden of Gods is also home to an abundance of wildlife. If you want to spot some bighorn sheep, mule deer, or bears, the Upper Loop Trails and the Siamese Twins Loop Trail are your best bet.
Because of its rock formations, the Garden of Gods is a mecca for climbers – just make sure you obtain a rock climbing permit before taking on these rocks!
21. Walk Across the Highest Suspension Bridge in the US
If you’re looking for a thrill, walking across the Royal Gorge Bridge near Cañon City is one of the coolest things to do in Colorado. This iconic bridge hangs 956 feet above the Arkansas River and is the highest suspension bridge in the US. Stretching 1,260 feet across the Royal Gorge, strolling across the bridge reveals dramatic canyon views.
Flanked by towering 1,000-foot red granite cliffs, the Arkansas River meanders through the stunning 10-mile-long gorge. It has even been dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Arkansas” due to its sheer natural beauty. If you’re afraid of heights and the idea of peering over the edge of the bridge has you on edge, you can opt to take in the scene from the comfort of a gondola ride.
The Royal Gorge Bridge is actually part of a 360-acre park that boasts tons of activities. If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s possible to go whitewater rafting along the Arkansas River. And if you really want to get your adrenaline pumping, the park also features the highest zip line in North America so you can glide 1,200 feet above the river!
Either way, the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park should be at the top of your Colorado bucket list!
22. Go Sandboarding in Great Sand Dunes National Park
When you think of Colorado, taking a thrilling ride down a massive sand dune probably doesn’t come to mind. But that’s what makes visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve such a unique Colorado attraction!
There aren’t any official trails, so you can just pick a dune to go boarding on. Most people head straight to the 700-foot High Dune, which is visible from the parking lot. You can rent sandboards at the Great Sand Dunes Oasis, located right outside the park.
Sandboarding aside, there are tons of fun activities to do in the national park. You can go sledding down the steep dunes, hiking along the otherworldly landscape, or go fishing in Medano Lake. If you’re visiting at the beginning of the summer, the Medano Creek creates a sandy beach at the foot of the dunes where you can frolic in the water!
Be sure to pay a visit to Star Dune, which is the highest sand dune in North America. If you hike to the 750-foot peak you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over the park. It’s a sweaty 5-hour roundtrip trek to the top of Star Dune, but it’s worth the effort!
23. Marvel at the Ancient Cliff Dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park
If you’re a history or archaeology buff, then visiting Mesa Verde National Park is a must as it’s one of the best sights in Colorado. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to incredibly preserved ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings that were once inhabited by nomadic Paleo-Indians.
Tribes first settled in the area in 7500 BC and started building pueblos in 650 AD. In 1200 AD, the group started carving these impressive dwellings into the cliffs.
The 52,485-acre park is home to 5,000 sites and 600 cliff dwellings. Given its sheer size and range of things to see and do, it’s best if you plan at least one or two days to explore Mesa Verde. While you can see some of the dwellings on your own, you’ll need a guide to see the biggest and best dwellings including Cliff Palace, Long House, and Balcony House.
Mesa Top Loop Road is also a must-see Colorado attraction. Drive along the 6-mile loop to glimpse incredible views of the park and hike to various archaeological sites. If you want to make the most of your time at Mesa Verde, camp under the stars at nearby Moorefield Campground.
24. Stand in Four States at once at Four Corners Monument
Located in southwest Colorado, Four Corners Monument is the only place in the US where you can stand in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico at the same time. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Colorado and is a fun stop-off for families.
The spot was officially marked with a cement pad in 1912 but it was recently given a makeover and is now commemorated with a brass and granite plaque.
The site is located on Navajo land and you’ll pay $5 per person to enter. Kids under 6 years of age can enter for free. After you take your obligatory photos, head over to the Demonstration Center and peruse Navajo crafts, jewelry, and snacks.
Four Corners is conveniently located one hour from Mesa Verde, so it makes for a nice detour if you’re making the journey to see Colorado’s ancient cliff dwellings.
25. Go Back in Time on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The US isn’t known for its train rides but this journey through the Colorado mountains is ranked as “One of the World’s Top Ten Most Exciting Train Rides” by the Society of American Travel Writers! The route between Durango and Silverton has run continuously since 1881 and is now an ultra-popular tourist attraction.
You’ll get the chance to board an original 1880s steam-powered train, which is meticulously maintained. You’ll embark on the same route that was taken by miners and cowboys back in the day! During the round-trip journey to Silverton and back, you’ll have the chance to chug through the San Juan National Forest and take in the stunning mountain, waterfall, and river views.
The full-day tour departs between 8-9:30 am and returns around 5:00 pm. You can purchase snacks at the concession cart and buy a $9 souvenir mug that comes with endless refills of tasty warm beverages from hot chocolate to chai tea.
You’ll stop off and have lunch in the quaint mountain town of Silverton. Pay a visit to the cowboy-themed Lone Spur Cafe, which has live piano music and quirky decor. Make sure to visit the informative museum housed inside a 1902 jailhouse before boarding the train back to Durango!
There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in Colorado. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Centennial State?
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