There are multiple scenic trails to hike and challenging cycling paths to discover as well as many more activities like zip-lining and horseback riding. You can explore the history and architecture of historic sites like Miramont Castle and Manitou Cliff Dwellings, visit the Manitou Springs Heritage Center, or enjoy some pampering at a day spa before catching a show at the Iron Springs Chateau Melodrama Theatre.
The best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park is from June to September when the snow is (mostly) melted and the hiking trails and attractions are accessible. Still, these four months are also the most popular times to visit, so if you'd rather experience RMNP in relative isolation and while wearing snowshoes or cross-country skis, visit between the months of October and May. Whether snow or sunshine, the park is open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, though some parts may be inaccessible.
An excellent vacation destination for visitors who are ready to hit the slopes, winter enthusiasts flock to Telluride every year for its 1,700 skiable acres that cater to both experts and novices alike. Visitors flock to Town Park on the southeast edge of town for its abundance of activities available, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fishing ponds and campgrounds that are popular for the city’s annual festivals and events. Bear Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls offer a variety of scenic hiking trails, while the Telluride Historical Museum and Historic Sheridan Opera House are two cultural attractions that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Guests are treated to a delicious gourmet three-course breakfast every morning along with complimentary bedtime snacks. An intimate library and comfortable lobby offer the perfect place to curl up with a book, an experience that is even nicer when it’s done in front of a crackling fire. The adjacent Rocky Mountain National Park provides a variety of activities from hiking and mountain biking to mountain climbing, fishing, and wildlife watching.
For ice cream and milkshakes, try Flavors of the Rockies, Hayley's or Laura's – all on Elkhorn Avenue and all recommended by recent travelers. To get your caffeine fix, check out Elkhorn Avenue's Kind Coffee and Inkwell & Brew, or Coffee on the Rocks on Moraine Avenue. And to sample a major Colorado food group, travelers can head to Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co. or Estes Park Brewery for a craft beer.
Sonnenalp Hotel is often named as Vail’s top hotel, in a place that’s already home to countless exceptional properties. A Bavarian-style lodge, it offers Old World Alpine traditions merged with the spirit of the west. All rooms offer views of either Gore Creek or Vail Village and boast impressive amenities like goose down comforters and handmade furniture, a fireplace, marble bathrooms with heated floors and an oversize tub. The impressive breakfast buffet is a great way to fuel up for activities, which includes spa services, a private 18-hole golf course, hotel ski guides, and more.
Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark comprised of 1,300 acres of magnificent views and stunning red sandstone formations. TripAdvisor® users voted Garden of the Gods the #1 park in the U.S. and #2 park in the world. Make sure to snap some selfies of you and your partner smooching under Kissing Camels and holding up Balanced Rock.
A geographical anomaly is found along the slopes of the Never Summer Mountains where the Continental Divide forms a horseshoe–shaped bend for about 6 miles (9.7 km), heading from south–to–north but then curving sharply southward and westward out of the park. The sharp bend results in streams on the eastern slopes of the range joining the headwaters of the Colorado River that flow south and west, eventually reaching the Pacific. Meanwhile, streams on the western slopes join rivers that flow north and then east and south, eventually reaching the Atlantic.
Become immersed in Rocky’s pristine landscape on some of the park’s 355 miles of hiking trails. Choose from flat lakeside walks to steeper, more challenging mountain climbs. The easy .6-mile Bear Lake trail is a popular hike featuring an interpretive nature trail hugging a subalpine lake at the end of Bear Lake Road. For a stunning waterfall hike, make your way to Alberta Falls or Ouzel Falls.
Lawn Lake Trail climbs to Lawn Lake and Crystal Lake, one of the parks deepest lakes, in the alpine ecosystem and along the course of the Roaring River. The river shows the massive damage caused by a dam failure in 1982 that claimed the lives of three campers. The trail is a strenuous snowshoe hike in the winter. Ypsilon Lake Trail leads to its namesake as well as Chipmunk Lake, with views of Longs Peak, while traversing pine forests with grouseberry and bearberry bushes. The trail also offers views of the canyon gouged out by rampaging water that broke loose from Lawn Lake Dam in 1982. Visible is the south face of Ypsilon Mountain, with its Y shaped gash rising sharply from the shoreline.
Hands down, Crested Butte is my favorite summer destination in Colorado. In addition to world-famous mountain biking and hiking (the views from Snodgrass Mountain are second-to-none), don’t miss the four-week long Crested Butte Music Festival (with the free Divine Family Young People’s Concert July 13, 20 and Aug. 3) and the Wildflower Festival (July 8-14, 2013) where you’ll swear you climbed onto a Monet canvas of mad, extravagant colors. Last winter, CBMR purchased the Coke Zero Gravity BagJump; a 50 feet by 50 feet bag of air for guests to tube and ski and ride into. Come summer, the resort will be setting up two levels of scaffolding at 10 feet and 20 feet for kids and adults alike to jump into the cloud-like bag of air. The resort will also be building a dirt jump for biking enthusiasts to practice their jumping skills with their bicycles for an added adrenaline rush, as if the 25 miles of trails in the Evolution Bike Park isn’t enough. For younger kids, check-out the Trailhead Children’s Museum and big kids (must weigh at least 70 pounds) can try the Crested Butte Zipline Tour, which includes five zip lines ranging in length from 120 – 400 feet connected by features or “events” such as suspended wood bridges and towering platforms. P.S. A few years ago, my kids did Kids Nature Camp at world-renown Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in nearby Gothic, Colo. and still rave about it.
Alta Lakes is a pristine and secluded wilderness setting situated 30 minutes outside the charming mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. The Observatory is nestled underneath the 13,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains – it is one of only a few homes in the United States at 11,000+ feet! The backcountry cabin with charming rugged details serves as the perfect romantic mountain getaway for couples.
In the winter, Steamboat Springs is famous for its champagne powder; in the summertime the Yampa River Valley, Steamboat Lake and Zirkel Wilderness Area become a veritable outdoor wonderland with boat rentals, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, SUP, swimming and camping. The Coca Cola Adventure Zone at the base of Steamboat Ski Resort includes ropes course, slingshot bungee jump, climbing wall, mini-bounce, mechanical bull, human gyro and t-shirt spin art. Bring your bikes and wind along the paved four-mile Yampa River Core Trail that follows the Yampa River. Or better yet, grab a tube and cruise down the only free-flowing river in the state, meaning that nowhere along its 261 miles is it obstructed by dams or diversions (a bonus for those float trips). If you want to warm up (really hot), checkout the natural hot mineral springs at Old Town Hot Springs and Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs. A not-to-be missed event is Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo where contestants gather once a week to compete. Once upon a time, my daughter won the Ram Scramble and still raves about it. It’s not every day grabbing a ribbon from a sheep’s rear counts as a win!
Isle Royale National Park is situated on an island on Lake Superior near the Canadian border. This beautiful island spans 432 square miles and was shaped into its present form by Ice Age glaciers. Today it is home to a wide range of wildlife including herring gulls, wolves, otters, foxes, falcons, and ospreys. When you want to explore unspoiled wilderness this park is the perfect destination.
Alternatively, you can just stay at the Inn and enjoy the comfort and luxury of this lovely historic Victorian house with exquisitely appointed rooms and modern amenities. Enjoy a gourmet breakfast and lavish afternoon tea, sit in the beautiful garden with a book, or go explore lively Breckenridge with charming bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries.
What could be more romantic than enjoying a candlelit dinner for two as you gaze out over the elegant natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains? In Colorado, this is an occurrence that happens on a regular basis thanks to the close proximity to these majestic peaks. The Antlers at Vail has luxurious condos and vacation homes for a great private retreat. Enjoy your proximity to Vail Mountain and curl up by your gas fireplace. The Osprey at Beaver Creek, A RockResort is your perfect romantic getaway with steam showers and stunning fireplaces in your luxurious accommodations. And for a great experience, Mt. Prince Hot Springs Resort has the elegant Princeton Club and gorgeous hot springs to warm and relax you and your sweetheart in bliss. Start planning your own romantic rendezvous to Colorado today!
A spectacular scenic drive stretches from the old mining town of Silverton, to the town of Ouray, along what is called the Million Dollar Highway. This is a 46-kilometer two-lane highway that hugs the mountainside in places and looks out over jaw-dropping cliffs and across valleys to inspiring mountain peaks. It is one of the most spectacular mountain drives in Colorado. If you have time, you can extend this into a longer route and drive the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. The Skyway is a full-day trip that you will want to do in good weather, but can be done in winter or summer.
Buena Vista is an historic mining and railroad town that resoundingly lives up to its Spanish name meaning “good views” – you are surrounded by towering mountain peaks that provide a wonderful year-round playground for adventure seekers. The area boasts some of the best river rafting adventures in the country and you can also go hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing and zip-lining.
Located one mile from the main entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and two miles from Estes Park, Rams Horn Village Resort offers 46 luxury cabins, a heated outdoor swimming pool in the summer, three outdoor, year-round hot tubs, a fitness center and a playground on over seven acres of landscaped grounds. Every amenity at Rams Horn is free to use with your reservation and every cabin will turn into a second home.
Lulu City, Dutchtown, and Gaskill in the Never Summer Mountains were established in the 1870s when prospectors came in search of gold and silver. The boom ended by 1883 with miners deserting their claims. The railroad reached Lyons, Colorado in 1881 and the Big Thompson Canyon Road—a section of U.S. Route 34 from Loveland to Estes Park—was completed in 1904. The 1920s saw a boom in building lodges and roads in the park, culminating with the construction of Trail Ridge Road to Fall River Pass between 1929 and 1932, then to Grand Lake by 1938.
Summer nights are long in Colorado, and after dinner Brian and I still had time for a shoreline walk around the Barker Reservoir, rimmed by mountains and fed by a cool and clear river. I took photos of the baby Canada Geese near shore, a speck of black in the middle of the water that turned out to be a cormorant, a hummingbird settled against a tree branch, while Brian cast a line. But I really didn’t want to move.
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Dinosaur National Monument is so diverse that the possibilities here extend well beyond the archeological aspects, from a simple driving tour through the monument to hiking, fishing, rafting, and camping. A number of scenic drives run through the park on both paved and four-wheel drive roads. Hiking trails range from short nature walks of less than a half mile to eight-mile-long day hikes. Campgrounds, some of which are open to both tents and RVs and others open only to tents, are spread around the park. It's possible to spend a few days in this area if you are interested in exploring the park.
This 5-bedroom residence features a stunning family room with a massive gas fireplace and a professional chef’s kitchen with dining area and breakfast nook. No expense was spared on the multi-zone sound system and other electronics throughout the home. Guests can settle into the cozy library/TV room or be blown away by the mineshaft themed cinema with a state-of-the-art digital projector and 11.1-point channel sound and hundreds of first-run movies and TV – all complimentary!
The Experience: Everywhere you look in Aspen, the views will take your breath away, especially if you stay at the historic Hotel Jerome. It's the ultimate mountain resort town every time of year, with world-class shopping, delicious food spots, and, as we mentioned, gorgeous scenery. Ski in Snowmass or Highland Bowl. In the summer, try to plan your trip to attend the wine and food festival or the annual jazz festival. Catch a show at Belly Up, party on the mountain at Cloud Nine, eat at Matsuhisa, or cross-country ski to dinner at the remote Pine Creek Lodge.
At 265,000 acres, Rocky Mountain National Park isn't the country's largest national park, nor is it the most-frequented with about 4 million annual visitors (compared to Great Smoky Mountains National Park's more than 11 million visitors). But there is something definitively magical about RMNP, which rises 12,183 feet into the Colorado sky. The main attraction is hiking its 350-some miles of trails that wind through pine and spruce forests, glittering alpine lakes, swaths of wildflowers and if you're lucky, some elk or bighorn sheep. And maybe it's the thinner atmosphere that goes to visitors' heads, but even the most jaded report feelings of awe and wonder after a day or two of breathing in that refreshing mountain air.
It’s always “do not disturb” mode at this quaint adults-only hideaway in Crested Butte that’s strictly 16-plus. Just a few blocks from historic Elk Avenue, Purple Mountain Bed & Breakfast has six plush rooms, an onsite day spa and an outdoor hot tub. In the winter, a free shuttle whisks you to Mt. Crested Butte for some of Colorado’s best skiing; when you’re ready for après, retire back to the house for complimentary craft beer on tap and a Ghirardelli hot chocolate bar you won’t have to share with the kids. Happy hour, indeed. Find more B&Bs in Colorado >>
Situated on Vail Square, The Arrabelle sets the standard for luxurious lodging, while its jaw-dropping setting reflects the romantic heritage and ambiance of the European Alps. Here you’ll find architectural touches of Salzburg, Innsbruck and Prague, along with high-end amenities such as personal butler service, ski valet and even grocery delivery. Look forward to heading to the rooftop for laps in the pool and soaking in the whirlpool together while taking in magnificent Rocky Mountain views. You can also relax and unwind together while indulging in treatments at the property’s RockResorts Spa, which offers even more stunning Rockies vistas. Each one of the spacious suites host impressive features like a living room area with a fireplace, ideal for toasting to your new life together while cuddling up next to its warmth.
Adventure Ridge is the big news at Vail and mid-summer, the resort will implement several new activities, including a four-line 1,200-foot long zip line, two aerial ropes courses, and a kids zip line as well as a kids ropes course, climbing wall, rebound trampoline. Gore Creek Mini Golf offers family-friendly putting atop the Lionshead base area for the second summer season. Grab your family and try the FREE bean bag toss, horseshoes or the new slackline park where kids of all ages can test their balance at a variety of levels. If your kids are age four and older, they can use digging tools and a map to uncover dinosaur bones and learn about prehistoric creatures. The FREE Bud Light Hot Summer Nights Concert Series on Tuesdays June 12-August 21 has become the social event of the season. If you have aspiring adventurers, the 4th annual KEEN Vail Kids Adventure Race on August 10 and 11 lets kids ages 6 through 14 experience the thrill of adventure racing with mountain biking, hiking, tubing, archery, a low ropes course, a zip line, a climbing wall, a Tarzan swing, a giant slip-n-slide and more.
Need to take a break, warm up or find that perfect place to have a picnic? All of Loveland’s on-mountain cabins are equipped with propane BBQ’s. What’s the catch? Nothing, these cabins are free to use. Loveland’s on-mountain cabins are just another reason why skiers and snowboarders love Loveland. Make sure you stop by and check one out on your next visit to Loveland.
You can climb and slide on the dunes or test your boarding skills cruising down the sand. On hot days, children and even adults enjoy splashing around in the Medano Creek that runs along the base of the dunes. Hiking trails run through the forest on the edge of the dunes. The four-wheel drive Medano Pass Primitive Road opens up some unique terrain, and car camping sites are located along the roadside. Regular camping is available at the Pinon Flats campground, which offers both tent and RV campsites.
The Experience: While news just broke that the old-timey train that travels along the mountainside through Pikes Peak will be closed for repairs for the rest of 2018, the nearby town of Manitou Springs should definitely stay on your bucket list. This resort town, located outside of Colorado Springs, is a true gem, complete with 1000-year-old Anasazi (the Ancestral Puebloans) cliff-dwelling ruins in the Mesa Verde National Park and a Victorian-era castle museum and tea room. Stay at the quaint Holden House bed and breakfast.
The town has a lively arts and culture scene, reflected by several galleries and a busy live theater schedule. Outdoors, the fun never stops; you can hike over 70 spectacular trails, have fun on a Jeep, snow-mobile or OHV tour, bike the Ridgway Area Trail System or go rock climbing, canyoneering, fishing, skiing, and hot air ballooning. Keep reading for more Colorado points of interest. Things to Do in Ouray
Reminiscent of the grand mountain lodges built at the turn of the 20th century, the Wild Horse Inn is handcrafted from 400-year old logs and moss covered rock, and it boasts grandiose windows that look out over the valley. This beautifully rustic inn is the perfect winter escape with luxurious log cabin rooms, crackling fireplaces, en-suite bathrooms with showers and jetted tubs, and private balconies or decks. Guests are treated to a full gourmet breakfast each morning and can enjoy complimentary tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies all day.
Update on Jan. 14, 2019: A Rocky Mountain National Park spokesman said Monday the park began using recreation fees to temporarily pay about 10 percent of furloughed workers to clean up the park. They’ve been plowing roads, cleaning restrooms and collecting trash since Saturday. Other staff, such as law enforcement rangers, continue to work without pay during the shutdown. The park is expected to reopen to vehicle traffic on Tuesday, said Kyle Patterson, a Park spokesman who is on furlough.