Enjoy year-round recreation and a wild diversity of landscapes in this colorful state.
With 42 state parks and four national parks, Colorado has long been a shining star among lovers of the great outdoors. This western state offers a wide variety of landscapes, with ancient mountains, massive canyons, ski resort towns that range from quaint to ultraluxe, many within easy access of the capital city of Denver. Camping areas abound throughout the state, ranging from simple backcountry tent sites to developed campgrounds with full hookups and dump stations, many managed by Colorado State Parks. Best of all, pretty much every outdoor activity under the sun is available, from biking and horseback riding to birding and stargazing.
Western Colorado shares quite a bit in common with neighboring Utah to the west, with massive sandstone rock formations—including the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park—plus fantastic opportunities for winter and summer recreation alike. Towns worth checking out include Steamboat Springs and Aspen—both popular ski resorts—as well as cute towns such as Montrose and Durango that make excellent bases for exploring the wilds of the San Juan Mountains. If you’re interested in history or archaeology, don’t miss the chance to visit the Puebloan cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.
Stretching from Fort Collins near the Wyoming border all the way down just past Denver, this region is largely urban but still offers plenty for campers. You can take in fantastic views of the region from the Estes Park Aerial Tramway or by driving the Trail Ridge Road scenic byway through Rocky Mountain National Park. Or, pack up your tent and head out on a backcountry camping trip in the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests.
This part of the state offers a mix of wide-open plains and towering massifs, including Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, a scenic mountaintop that served as the inspiration for the patriotic tune America the Beautiful. Popular area activities include fishing and whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande and sledding down the sands at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. If you want to soothe tired muscles after a weekend of adventure, head to the hot springs towns of Buena Vista and Salida—both just outside the Pike and San Isabel national forests.
Quiet Eastern Colorado features a mix of grasslands and canyons, with massive expanses of grazing lands and farms that give way to charming small towns. You can learn about life in the 19th century at the Old Fort National Historic Site and the Boggsville Historic Site, or head down to the John Martin Reservoir, a great place for birdwatching and boating.