A nature lover’s paradise, Colorado is filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes, offering travelers over 300 days of sunshine to come and explore its diverse areas. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to picturesque prairies and cosmopolitan cities, Colorado is surrounded by vibrant outdoor attractions, diverse wildlife and scenic byways just begging to be explored. Whether you hit the slopes at a luxury ski resort, hike the trails at a National Park or take a scenic drive through the countryside, Colorado has so many great things to see and do throughout the year. Perfect for families, couples and solo travelers who are looking for an outdoor adventure, read on to discover the best places to vacation in Colorado.
Located in Southwestern Colorado, the Gunnison National Park is best known for the narrow gorge called the Black Canyon. With a depth that reaches 2,700 feet (820 meters), the canyon was carved by thousands of years of erosion by the Gunnison River. Scenic overlooks along the 6-mile (10 km) South Rim Road offer views of the canyon. The Cedar Point Nature Trail off South Rim is an easy-to-navigate hiking trail that includes signs about the area’s plants. It leads to a great view of the 2,250 foot (7,380) high Painted Wall, the tallest cliff in the state.
A comfortable reading and DVD library serves as the perfect place to relax with a book and a glass of wine, and there is free high-speed Internet throughout the property. The Wild Horse Inn is surrounded by incredible natural landscapes that offer an array of activities to partake in, from hiking, mountain biking, and climbing to boating, rafting and fishing, and various snow sports in the winter. The inn is located 1 hour and 30 minutes from Denver.
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Above tree line, at approximately 11,000 ft (3,400 m), trees disappear and the vast alpine tundra takes over. Over one third of the park resides above the tree line, an area which limits plant growth due to the cold climate and strong winds. The few plants that can survive under such extreme conditions are mostly perennials. Many alpine plants are dwarfed at high elevations, though their occasional blossoms may be full-sized.
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.
Whether you like to ski, hike, or just take in the jaw-dropping mountain scenery with a craft beer in hand, you’ll find the perfect weekend getaway in Colorado. From lively cities like Denver and Boulder, to more laid-back locales like Golden and Pagosa Springs—and plenty of world-class ski resorts in between—we’ve compiled a list of 17 of the best weekend getaways in The Centennial State.
Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses 265,461 acres (414.78 sq mi; 1,074.28 km2) of federal land, with an additional 253,059 acres (395.40 sq mi; 1,024.09 km2) of U.S. Forest Service wilderness adjoining the park boundaries. The Continental Divide runs generally north–south through the center of the park, with rivers and streams on the western side of the divide flowing toward the Pacific Ocean while those on the eastern side flow toward the Atlantic.
That was not my intention. We planned a trip from Florida to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for one of my freelance writing projects, and originally scheduled a day in Denver (at 5,280 feet in elevation) to acclimate. Frontier Airlines had a different idea. I heard alternatively that our plane had a mechanical issue, that weather in the Midwest grounded the flight, and that the crew went on strike. Regardless, the airline cancelled our original flight.
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Salida is known for its white-water rafting and gorgeous mountain scenery in southeastern Colorado. Nature-lovers, adrenaline-junkies, and ski-bums alike will all enjoy this Colorado weekend getaway. Those who want a mellow weekend trip in Colorado can stroll through downtown galleries and museums, while adventure seekers will find no shortage of heart-thumping excursions.
A small town in the southwest corner of Colorado, Durango offers visitors a wealth of fun-filled activities to fill up a weekend away. Explore the downtown area to see a National Historic District lined with charming shops, eateries and hotels in 19th-century buildings. The area also boasts an array of outdoor adventures, including excellent opportunities to hike, bike, fish, while those wanting to kick it up a notch can also indulge in snowboarding, horseback riding and white water rafting. A ride on the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a must, where visitors can soak in breathtaking mountain views from a steam-powered engine train.
The Experience: Located in a Western ghost town in the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is the rustic escape for families that want to experience the great outdoors without compromising luxury or comfort. Dunton offers perma-tents, tepees, and cabins for lodging. This remote destination hotel will get you off the beaten path and out of your comfort zone in the best, most luxurious way possible.
In the winter, try the “Ski-In/Ski-Out” Treatment—the only one of its kind at a ski resort. In 30 minutes, professionals submerge your feet in a warm, exfoliating bath and go to work to increase circulation. They relieve the tension with a hot stone massage to get you back into action. This treatment is designed perfectly to soothe you after a day of adrenaline and activity, and vamp you back up for more.
The historic Brown Palace, located in downtown Denver first opened its doors in 1892. Since then, the hotel has accommodated celebrities, presidents and other dignitaries. If you are planning to do a lot of sightseeing on your trip, this unique property is conveniently located within walking distance of the pedestrian 16th Street Mall, the State Capitol, the Denver Center for Performing Arts and and Coors Field Baseball Park. The hotel is built around a central atrium; when in the lobby, you can enjoy soaring ceilings and when going to your room, you'll have a view of the classically furnished lobby below on your city vacation.
Located at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs has multiple attractions, ranging from museums and parks to trains and a zoo. It is within close proximity to Pikes Peak, a landmark in the Pike National Forest. The Garden of the Gods park is also located in Colorado Springs and features red sandstone formations and stunning mountain views.
“We were on par for a good year but after the closure, we pretty much stopped. We didn’t hit our targets,” said Zach Zehr, manager at the Estes Park Mountain Shop who’s now pushing backcountry ski adventures. “People either cut their trips short or they were pure cancellations because they heard it was closed. Or they didn’t recreate as they thought they would. They shifted gears and did something else. They didn’t buy hats and gloves because they weren’t going to use them.”
Smith Fork Ranch is a traditional homestead within the Rocky Mountains and rolling meadows of Colorado featuring old-fashioned Western hospitality and sophisticated wine and cuisine. The cozy mountain lodges envelop guests in homely comfort with plush furnishings, wood burning fireplaces, original artwork, slate tiled bathrooms, handmade soaps and organic lotions, feather beds with fine linens, and hot tubs. The undulating landscape is teeming with wildlife and offers superb hiking, while activities on the ranch will keep honeymooners busy the entire stay.
Michigan's apples, cherries, blueberries, and peaches are second-to-none, so make sure to sample those. Another specialty is the coney dog — a hot dog served with mustard, chili, and freshly-cut onions. Also sample the pasties found in the Upper Peninsula, made from potato, onion, meat, and rutabaga. Foodies adore the Cudighi sausage-patty hoagie topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. With all those Great Lakes, can freshwater fish preparations be far behind? Hot favorites include whitefish and lake perch served with salad and mash potato.
Idyllically pinned between the crags and currents of Little Prospect Mountain and Big Thompson River, This Mountain Life makes for a serene setting to call basecamp. Open your windows to clean crisp air, bluebird skies and sights and sounds of a winding snow-fed alpine river. Watch wildlife from Mountain Chickadees to Colorado Chipmunks and Wapiti Elk. Sleep like a log. Step out your haven in Historic Downtown to easily access top Estes Park shops, attractions and venues — from river walks to fishing spots, sweet shops to best restaurants, from care-free strolls to heart-pounding treks.
There’s no need to travel far from Denver unless you really want to. Boulder is less than an hour’s drive away and is home to the luxurious St. Julien Hotel and Spa. One of the state’s most romantic properties, by booking the St. Julien Suite you’ll enjoy an opulent two-room suite with a balcony, deep soaking tub and plenty of room and relax, unwind and enjoy your time together. You can even order up an in-room couples’ massage. When you do want to venture outside of your room, you’ll find lots to do in town and nearby. Hike the scenic trails that skirt its famous Flatirons Mountains, stroll through legendary open-air mall on Pearl Street, and dine at some fabulous restaurants like The Med, with its Greek Island-themed interior, fine wine and sumptuous Mediterranean small plates.
While it is possible to travel through Rocky Mountain National Park and not catch sight of any wildlife, we venture to say that is an unlikely experience. From everyday sightings of chipmunks and mule deer to the moving experience of viewing elk in rut (the mating season), the animals in the park let you know that you are part of something truly wild. Some of these critters are harder to spot than others - they might camouflage themselves in the trees or hide in the underbrush - but look closely and you may have an encounter unlike any other.
With breathtaking mountain scenery everywhere you look, even the journey to your Estes Park cabin rental will be enjoyable. The main airport in the area is Denver International Airport, which lies about 75 miles southeast of Estes Park. At the airport, you have access to nearly a dozen different car rental companies and will be able to find the perfect vehicle for your drive to Estes Park. Several highways take you to the town, including U.S. Routes 34 and 36 and State Highway 7.
Denver is the capital of Colorado and it perfectly reflects the diversity of the state, offering visitors of all ages virtually unlimited attractions to suit all interests. You can visit several art museums, including the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and there are several art districts filled with galleries to thrill and delight all art lovers.
A classic Colorado city just up the road from Denver, Fort Collins is a great spot for a weekend trip in Colorado. The historic college town is artsy and vibrant with plenty to do. Whether it’s bringing the kids to the Museum of Discovery, hiking and kayaking at Horsetooth Open Space, perusing Old Town shops, or biking to Fort Collins’ many craft breweries, there’s something for everyone.
Though named for steamboats that once ran down the river, Steamboat Springs is actually famous for its skiing, so bring your gear to the Steamboat Ski Resort to hit the slopes or take a lesson. If ski trips (or apres ski festivities) aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There’s also the Yampa River Core Trail, Strawberry Park Hot Springs, and craft breweries like Butcherknife Brewing Company to keep you entertained.
Located off Lift 8 on Hook em’ Horns, the Ginny Lee Cabin offers skiers & snowboarders a place to hang out on the far north side of the mountain. Newly built in 2014 and named after Virginia Upham, Ginny Lee is quickly becoming one of the favorite cabins on the mountain. Be sure to check out the new Tommyknocker’s Ginny Lee IPA brewed only for Loveland Ski Area.
Another one of the state’s most popular skiing and snowboarding destinations, Steamboat Springs may be a winter wonderland during the chillier months of the year, but the summer brings an endless landscape of green dotted with brilliant wildflowers. This is when this Wild West town really comes alive, with visitors enjoying fly fishing, inner tube rides and rafting trips on the Yampa River, endless scenic hiking and mountain biking trails, and natural hot springs that are ideal for soothing sore muscles afterward. If you can be here around late June/early July, you can attend the legendary annual Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park festival which boasts an extensive display of colorful hot air balloons along with some 50 artist vendors, live entertainment, food and drink vendors, and an interactive children’s art area.
A small city that packs a lot of punch for its size, Vail is one of the most beloved ski destinations in the country, where its not uncommon to spot a celebrity or two. Nestled between the Gore Mountain Range and Sawatch Mountain Range, this narrow alley is home to the largest single-mountain resort in the United States. While most visitors come to Vail for its famous 5,289 acres of ski slopes, in the summer visitors can also explore the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area and Holy Cross Wilderness area to hike the area’s rugged mountainside trails.
Another annual event in Estes Park is the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, which takes place the weekend after Labor Day in September. Like the Midsummer Festival, the Longs Peak festival features all sorts of traditional food, crafts, clothes, and activities, this time of Celtic heritage. There is also a parade through town, live music from bands around the world, and even a "Dogs of the British Isles" attraction that includes dog agility courses.
Perched on the banks of the San Juan River in Pagosa Springs, this hot-springs haven offers a Relaxation Terrace with five pools that are only accessible to the of-age crowd. The terrace is tucked above the kid-friendly main springs area, and includes a waterfall, fire pit, roman shower, jetted tub and river overlook, along with blissful quiet time. Access to the terrace is complimentary for hotel guests and is available to day visitors for a small fee.
Spa facilities are quite unique - hot springs are housed in the teepee and bath house, while the massage and yoga rooms are located in the Pony Express Stop. Direct feeds from geothermal springs in some of the guest cabins are even more surprising and a fun adventure honeymoon idea. Spa treatments offered at the spa include wraps, reflexology, Trager Therapy, hot rocks massage and other holistic and therapeutic healing techniques. The resort is situated near the Four Corners and in the midst of two national forests where you can enjoy hiking, climbing, snow-shoeing, back country skiing, heli-skiing and fly fishing on your adventure honeymoon.
The park is home to some 2,000 to 3,000 elk in summer, and between 800 and 1,000 elk spend the winter within its boundaries. Because of lack of predation, the National Park Service culls around 50 elk each winter. Overgrazing by elk has become a major problem in the park's riparian areas, so much so that the NPS fences them out of many critical wetland habitats to let willows and aspens grow. The program seems to be working, as the deciduous wetland plants thrive within the fencing. Many people think the elk herd is too large, but are reluctant to reintroduce predators because of its proximity to large human populations and ranches.
Regardless of whether or not you have seen cliff dwellings before, you will be blown away by Mesa Verde and the amount of access to the actual ruins that the park allows visitors. The park's centerpiece, Cliff Palace is one of the most impressive dwellings in the entire Southwest, with a dramatic setting and incredibly preserved ruins. Ranger-led tours, which run regularly during the summer high season, allow you to climb ladders right up into the heart of the dwelling. If you aren't up for that level of activity, you can get a full view of the site from a nearby overlook.
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.
Located in southwestern Colorado, close to the Four Corners Monument where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, Durango is perfectly positioned for sightseeing and year-round outdoor activities. The town also has a vibrant art scene and you can spend many happy hours visiting a fascinating array of art galleries and live theater attractions.
Precambrian metamorphic rock formed the core of the North American continent during the Precambrian eon 4.5–1 billion years ago. During the Paleozoic era, western North America was submerged beneath a shallow sea, with a seabed composed of limestone and dolomite deposits many kilometers thick. Pikes Peak granite formed during the late Precambrian eon, continuing well into the Paleozoic era, when mass quantities of molten rock flowed, amalgamated, and formed the continents about 1 billion–300 million years ago. Concurrently, in the period from 500–300 million years ago, the region began to sink while lime and mud sediments were deposited in the vacated space. Eroded granite produced sand particles that formed strata—layers of sediment—in the sinking basin.
High on the mountain in a secluded small cove surrounded by aspen and spruce trees in Steamboat Springs, Chalet Val d'Isere is an esteemed, private bed and breakfast perfect for those romantic souls who like their peace and tranquility. The décor is elegant and comfortable, with shiny maple floors and soft oriental rugs, and rooms are full of small decorative pieces that have their own stories.
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.
When taking in the amazing views at Rocky Mountain National Park, don’t forget to look down! Summer is a great time to see wildflowers at the park, which is home to hundreds of different flower species. Wander through colorful mountain meadows and alpine wildflower hotspots like this beautiful rainbow bouquet at Upper Ouzel Creek. Crystal Brindle, National Park Service
Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, is a unique landscape of jagged stone towers and fins jutting up 300 feet from the earth, and giant balanced boulders and rock piles dotting the landscape, with distant mountains completing the scene. Fifteen miles of trails, most of which are short and easy, allow you to get up close to the dramatic rock formations and wander through the surreal scenery. The park is a popular area for rock climbing, but other activities in the park include road biking in designated biking lanes, mountain biking, horseback riding, and Jeep and Segway tours.
Fall River Cabins features five luxurious Cabins located on the banks of Fall River. We are also excited to announce the brand new Stream Suites building which will be located across the river from the 5 Cabins. Book with us and have access to over 4000ft of fall river, private hiking trails, wonderful service and much much more. Come ready to relax, indulge, & explore.
“This isn’t a furlough for us,” Oropeza said. “There are definitely folks who, if this continues into next week, they’ll have to forfeit their commitment. Some are exploring applying for other jobs. They have student loans, they have car payments and other bills. …There are ripple effects this is having down the road. Our seasonal contracts, we have to have our contracts for summer seasonal work signed soon. All these things are getting backlogged.”
Pagosa Springs is a picturesque, off-the-beaten-path destination surrounded by the San Juan National Forest. It’s an ideal spot for a Colorado weekend trip, with beautiful hiking paths, numerous hot springs, and stunning spots like Chimney Rock National Monument and Treasure Falls. Or going off-roading for another fun way to make the most of this charming town’s personality and views.
With elevations ranging from 8,000 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak, a visitor to the park has opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures. For those wishing to experience the tundra without hiking miles above tree line, the Alpine Visitor’s Center atop Trail Ridge Road is the highest visitor’s center in the entire National Park System!
Not everyone wants a honeymoon on the beach or has the time to make it out to a tropical location. Colorado is an amazing destination for a honeymoon. Imagine dipping into a steaming outdoor hot tub right outside your honeymoon cabin, or spending time cuddling next to a cozy fireplace inside. Here are some inviting and romantic cabins all around Colorado that are perfect for a honeymoon.
^ This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress document: "Majestic view from the old, one-way, dirt Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Front Range of the spectacular and high Rockies in north-central Colorado". Library of Congress - Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Retrieved October 28, 2016.