Travel

Greatest locations to go to in Colorado – Lonely Planet

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Rugged Colorado is legendary for its spectacular landscapes, out of doors adventures and beautiful Rocky Mountain getaways. However the Centennial State can also be dwelling to a vibrant crop of hip and occurring cities, fascinating historic websites and the most effective four-season climate nearly anyplace.

Interstate highways zip between the state’s main hubs, although they’ll get filled with weekend warriors in season. The roads to extra distant locations are quieter however be ready for steep passes, hair-raising switchbacks and winter closures. Getting round by public transport is feasible – nearly – however you will get extra out of Colorado with your personal wheels.

This is our information to the most effective locations to go to in Rocky Mountain nation.

Aspen

Greatest romantic getaway

The chic pure environment, mixed with the evident opulence of this iconic mountain city, make Aspen an ideal place for a complicated getaway for 2. This Victorian-era mountain resort lends itself to pampering, with loads of five-star inns providing full-service spas (Little Nell is a standout).

Aspen is sufficiently small to get pleasure from on foot too, so you will not need to drive to duck into the edgy Aspen Artwork Museum earlier than noshing on a charcuterie platter at Meat & Cheese or having a cocktail on the historic J-Bar saloon. Annual festivals just like the Meals & Wine Traditional or the Aspen Music Competition add a bonus excuse for an extended weekend along with your boo.

And, there’s at all times the nice outside. Winter brings world-class snowboarding, after all, but additionally snow-shoeing and comfortable sleigh rides for 2. Summer season is all about climbing – the dual peaks generally known as the Maroon Bells are simply minutes away, and miles and miles of trails await. Image serene walks passing gurgling creeks and aspen groves, with simply the 2 of you and the large blue Colorado sky.

The Chalk Artwork Competition is certainly one of a string of inventive occasions on the Denver arts calendar © Evan Semon / Go to Denver

Denver

Greatest for arts and leisure

In a state identified for its bring-it-on outdoorsy ethos, Denver is the cultural megastar. From celebrated museums such because the Denver Artwork Museum and the Clyfford Nonetheless Museum to the a lot anticipated (and newly opened) Meow Wolf Denver, the town bubbles over with artwork.

Don’t overlook the town’s many public sculptures and the murals that drape throughout partitions and sidings in neighborhoods equivalent to RiNo and the Sante Fe Arts District. Did we point out there are 4 extra main artwork museums, plus nice artwork walks on the primary Friday of each month, and scores of small galleries internet hosting exhibits and occasions?

For stay leisure, a visit to the Denver Performing Arts Complicated is a no brainer: this large 10-theater advanced provides equal billing to Broadway musicals, dramas, ballet, opera and the symphony orchestra. Smaller music and theater venues equivalent to Dazzle Denver and the Curious Theatre make for a simple impromptu outing. And naturally, the Crimson Rocks Amphitheatre is simply 15 miles down the highway.

Colorado Springs

Greatest Metropolis with Youngsters

A mixture of city and outdoorsy choices makes Colorado Springs a simple go-to for household enjoyable. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a surefire hit, providing hand-feeding experiences with giraffes, elephants and rhinos. Close by, the Backyard of the Gods is a spectacular assortment of crimson sandstone outcrops, mammoth boulders, jutting fins and beautiful pinnacles that may be explored on foot, by bike (leases can be found on the Guests Heart), and even with a stroller.

Alternatively, head underground to the Cave of the Winds, which provides a simple introduction to caving plus a zipline and ropes course for giant and small adventurers. With regards to inspirational museums, it’s onerous to beat the US Olympic & Paralympic Museum, with hands-on displays concerning the Video games and prime American athletes, and common meet-and-greets with actual Olympians. When the youngsters attain for his or her tablets, make a journey to Manitou Penny Arcade as an alternative, the place you possibly can college them within the artwork of Galaga and Skee-Ball.

Breckenridge

Greatest winter basecamp

As winter basecamps go, you will not discover one higher than Breck. For starters, it’s dwelling to certainly one of Colorado’s finest and largest ski resorts – whether or not you’re on a household ski trip or on the hunt for untamed powder, the spacious groomed slopes and excessive alpine bowls gained’t disappoint. There’s tubing and snowshoeing too for extra winter enjoyable.

The city is inside hanging distance of 5 different first-rate winter resorts, together with Keystone, Copper, and Arapahoe Basin; there’s even free bus service between them. For some après ski enjoyable, Breck’s quaint historic district – this was a working mountain city earlier than the chairlifts received right here – buzzes with life, with hubs equivalent to Breckenridge Brewery creating a real neighborhood really feel. You will discover all this simply two hours from Denver Worldwide Airport.

Beautiful strolling nation in Rocky Mountains Nationwide Park © Shutterstock / Margaret.Wiktor

Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park

Greatest for climbing and wildlife recognizing

The crown jewel of Colorado’s nationwide parks, Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park is a hiker’s wonderland. Some 355 miles of trails traverse terrain that ranges from sculpted granite mountain tops to beautiful flower-filled valleys. To ease in, contemplate the flat however rewarding path round Bear Lake or the average hike to Gem Lake within the Lumpy Ridge space; vacationers with extra ambition and robust legs are lured by the epic problem of summiting 14,259ft (4346m) Longs Peak.

Alongside the best way, hold your eyes peeled for animals, huge and small. Some 280 species of birds have been noticed right here, together with nice horned owls, bald eagles and ptarmigan. Elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and moose additionally make common appearances in these rocky valleys.

Telluride

Most lovely city

The tiny city of Telluride is beautiful and completely distinctive, and all of the extra alluring due to the journey alongside backcountry roads to get right here. Deep within the San Juan Mountains, the city is ensconced on the finish of a slim field canyon, surrounded on three sides by epic mountain surroundings and the 365ft Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s highest waterfall.

The city’s lengthy major avenue options charming century-old buildings, immediately stuffed with outlets starting from the straightforward to the chichi. Close by, the Jud Weibe Path rewards hikers with spectacular views of the city and the mountains, whereas the native by way of ferrata course – a cable-protected scramble excessive on the encompassing cliffs – is just heart-stopping.

The beautiful sweep of cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde © Bboserup / Getty Pictures

Mesa Verde Nationwide Park

Greatest historic web site

The nation’s largest and best-preserved Native American archaeological web site, Mesa Verde Nationwide Park is a spectacular introduction to the traditional Ancestral Puebloan folks (not Anasazi, which suggests “historical enemy” within the Navajo language). Individuals lived right here for hundreds of years in elaborate buildings constructed into excessive cliff partitions earlier than abruptly abandoning the positioning round 1300AD.

There are a number of DIY hikes within the park, however by far one of the simplest ways to expertise the positioning is on ranger-led excursions that take guests inside Mesa Verde’s well-known cliff dwellings by way of wood-pole ladders, stone stairways and slim tunnels. The Cliff Palace, an incredible engineering achievement with 150 rooms and 23 kivas (underground ceremonial areas), is a particular spotlight. Excursions will not be for the faint of coronary heart however they’re a one-of-a-kind expertise.

Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park

Most surprising panorama

As you go by the jagged Sangre de Cristo Mountains and into the arid San Luis Valley, a large dune subject seems as if from nowhere – welcome to Nice Sand Dunes Nationwide Park. This sprawling 30 sq mile expanse of sand is a surreal sight in a state higher identified for mountains, forests and raging rivers, and it is dwelling to the tallest dunes in North America, standing some 750ft in top.

Climbing up the dunes might be difficult as a result of shifting sand, however the reward is an otherworldly view from the highest. For a thrill, hire particular picket boards for dune-surfing and slide down the sandy slopes. Should you time it proper, you possibly can even get pleasure from a seaside day beside the dunes – in late spring, the seasonal Medano Creek is born from snowmelt that flows down from the mountains, creating a short oasis for wading and water play. You may’t get pleasure from it for lengthy; the water disappears by mid-summer.

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