Beaver Mountain Loop, also used by horseback riders, passes through forests and meadows, crosses Beaver Brook and several aspen-filled drainages, and has a great view of Longs Peak. Deer Mountain Trail gives a 360 degree view of eastern part of the park. The summit plateau of Deer Mountain offers expansive views of the Continental Divide. During the winter, the lower trail generally has little snow, though packed and drifted snow are to be expected on the switchbacks. Snow cover on the summit may be three to five feet deep, requiring the use of snowshoes or skis.
While sightseeing in Denver, be sure to note your elevation: One of the steps in front of the Colorado State Capitol building is marked with a plaque signifying that it is exactly 5,280 feet, or one mile, above sea level. A perfect opportunity to snag a memorable smooch in the Mile High City — “mile-high club” jokes totally optional. More things to do in Denver >>
The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, the High Desert Opera, the Mesa State College Theatre and the Avalon Theatre provide a great selection of entertainment. Nature lovers can explore the diverse landscape along many miles of hiking and biking trails, try an off-road adventure, climb the marvelous red rock formations, or take to the rivers for some rafting, kayaking and paddling. Leave plenty of time to taste your way around the 22 wineries and tasting rooms. Things to Do in Grand Junction
Every summer, Aspen gets taken over by classic music lovers during the renowned Aspen Music Festival and School with more than 300 concerts. Learn about Aspen from Dean Weiler during one of his popular Aspen Walking Tours and pay respect to John Denver at the John Denver Sanctuary you will pass by while hiking the picturesque Rio Grande Trail. Next read: best Aspen restaurants.
The montane ecosystem is at the lowest elevations in the park, between 5,600 to 9,500 feet (1,700 to 2,900 m), where the slopes and large meadow valleys support the widest range of plant and animal life, including montane forests, grasslands, and shrublands. The area has meandering rivers and during the summer, wildflowers grow in the open meadows. Ponderosa pine trees, grass, shrubs and herbs live on dry, south-facing slopes. North-facing slopes retain moisture better than those that face south. The soil better supports dense populations of trees, like Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and ponderosa pine. There are also occasional Engelmann spruce and blue spruce trees. Quaking aspens thrive in high-moisture montane soils. Other water-loving small trees like willows, grey alder, and water birch may be found along streams or lakeshores. Water-logged soil in flat montane valleys may be unable to support growth of evergreen forests. The following areas are part of the montane ecosystem: Moraine Park, Horseshoe Park, Kawuneeche Valley, and Upper Beaver Meadows.
The Western Slope has plenty of charms, including being a dinosaur mecca with plenty of hands-on science, and is the heart of Colorado’s agricultural region. At the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey, visitors can get up close and personal with dinosaur skeletons, a working paleontology lab and realistic robotic dinosaurs. Dedicated to “putting science in the hands of kids,” the Western Colorado Math and Science Center features interactive exhibits in biology, physics, earth and space science, and electronics. From June through October, orchards are laden with some of the sweetest harvests around: cherries, grapes, apples, plums, pears, apricots and peaches. Take an orchard tour or check out the myriad of roadside stands selling fresh produce, jams and ciders. For great biking or strolling, the Colorado Riverfront Trail winds for more than 18 miles through the city of Grand Junction’s picnic grounds, botanical garden, protected wetlands and fishing pier. Buy one/get one free passes are available for six major attractions from the Grand Junction Visitors Center. This “Map to Adventure” includes Dinosaur Journey, Museum of the West, Cross Orchards, the John McConnell Math & Science Center, The Art Center and the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.
This three-story, immaculately furnished lodge can sleep up to 30 people and is located mere minutes from the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. It can be divided into two different suites for smaller groups. Overlooking the tranquil Trout Pond, the lodge has everything you need for a perfect family reunion, wedding, retreat or any large gathering.
Crested Butte is an amazing ski destination and the wildflower capital of Colorado, attracting outdoor enthusiasts all year round. Before you hit the slopes or the hiking trails, you can learn about the mining history of the town on a Crested Butte Historic District Walking Tour and meet some of the town’s talented artists on a tour of the Crested Butte Creative District.
Soak in the hotel’s hot tubs after a day of skiing or warm up in front of the crackling fire in the lounge before heading out to enjoy one of the many activities the area has to offer. Enjoy hiking, fishing, mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding. Wildlife lovers will delight in all the birds and wildlife to be found in the region, and romantics can stargaze on clear nights.
In the summer, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gage Railway is one of the town's main tourist attractions. This historic train runs day trips up the valley from Durango to the old mining town of Silverton, high in the mountains. Durango is also the terminus of the Colorado Trail, a 500-mile-long backcountry trail that runs from Denver to Durango. You can do a day hike or mountain bike along the trail, going out and back the same way. The trail follows the scenic Junction Creek and then climbs up to Gudy's Rest, where many people enjoy lunch and then turn around. In the town of Durango and in the surrounding mountains are numerous hiking and mountain biking trails.
The Mummy Range is a short mountain range in the north of the park. The Mummies tend to be gentler and more forested than the other peaks in the park, though some slopes are rugged and heavily glaciated, particularly around Ypsilon Mountain and Mummy Mountain. Bridal Veil Falls is a scenic point and trail accessible from the Cow Creek trailhead, at the Continental Divide Research Center. West Creek Falls and Chasm Falls, near Old Fall River Road, are also in this region. The Alluvial Fan trail leads to a bridge over the river that had been the site of the Lawn Lake Flood.
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.
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.
It may be summertime but Snowmass has returned to the Ice Age with the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center that features the most significant Ice Age ecosystem find in Colorado history (and it’s free). Touch a mastodon tooth, marvel at a half-sized 6-foot Wooden Mammoth Skeleton, do a dig of your own or a daily Ice Age Discovery Hike by Environment Studies. Visit the Snowmass Rodeo on Wednesday nights (June 12- August 28) and sign up your kids for the Calf Scramble and Mutton Busting. Ride the Elk Camp Gondola up Snowmass Mountain where the Elk Camp Restaurant will open for activities including downhill biking, dinner, campfires, live music, movies, Stryder Park and Kid’s Playground on Friday evenings. Try your hand at some slopeside bowling at the new bowling alley below Venga Venga Cantina featuring eight full-sized lanes, a lounge area with full bar, wood-fired oven pizzas, upscale bar food and more. Then, get inspired at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a stellar place for kids of all ages to take workshops that include sculpture, photography, painting, beading, and mask-making.
Getting to Ouray is a spectacular adventure in itself, especially if you take the Million Dollar Highway that follows a 25-mile stretch of US 550 from Silverton to get here. The road’s endless twists and turns, many at the edge of sheer cliffs, brings some of the most jaw-dropping vistas in the world. As you turn each corner, the views of the soaring, jagged peaks of the San Juan Mountains seem to keep getting better – providing a pretty big clue as to why Ouray is often called the “Switzerland of America.” It’s an ideal spot for soaking in natural hot springs, gazing at countless waterfalls, and even exploring old mines. For an in-depth knowledge of the town’s gold and silver history, head to Bachelor-Syracuse Mine where you’ll find out what it was like to be a miner back in the day. There are also lots of interesting shops on the main street, historic walking tours and even a ghost tour if you’re brave enough.
Enos Mills, the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Wildflowers are common in the spring and early summer. In the winter, the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski. Other lakes in the Wild Basin include Chasm Lake, Snowbank Lake, Lion Lakes 1 and 2, Thunder Lake, Ouzel Lake, Finch Lake, Bluebird Lake, Pear Lake, and Sandbeach Lake. Many of the lakes have backcountry campsites. Waterfalls include Ouzel Falls, Trio Falls, Copeland Falls, and Calypso Cascades.
Situated in Southern Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is an impressive sight. Shaped by winds blowing from and against the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the piles of sand climb to more than 750 feet (230 meters), making them the tallest dunes in North America. Sand-boarding, skiing and sledding on the dunes are the park’s most popular activities, and there are medium-size slopes to slide on located near the main parking area. A longer hike to the north brings thrill seekers to a 300-foot (90 meter) slope that tumbles onto into Medano Creek.
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.
Our last (but definitely not least!) romantic hotel in Colorado is the Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards. This secluded B&B is surrounded by vineyards and the valleys and mesas of the Grand Mesa located on 54 acres. Sip their wine while gazing from the Leroux Creek Inn’s flower-bedecked patio onto their vineyards. Near the small town of Hotchkiss, the acreage also includes a creek, dry arroyos, grass pastures, sagebrush, and trees.
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.
If you want to get pampered while enjoying mountain air and views, you'll find five-star accommodations in luxury resorts near the state's famed ski areas. In the southwestern part of the state, Dunton Hot Springs 35 miles northeast of Dolores is a fully restored ghost town tucked along a wooded stream. You'll pay more than $1,000 per night to stay there, but the price includes meals, beverages, a spa treatment, guided hikes and unlimited use of the hot springs and mountain bikes. For nearby luxury, check out restored historic hotels such as Hotel Jerome in Aspen or the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Both date to Colorado's mining boom in the late 1800s and deliver a five-star luxury experience.
Colorado Springs stands out from its mountainous counterparts because it's not a ski destination. But what the city lacks in slopes it more than makes up for in incredible hiking opportunities. Mix that in with a good helping of small-town charm and a diverse array of attractions (including the U.S. Olympic Training Center) and Colorado Springs has all the makings of a great vacation. Read More »
If you needed a reason to visit Keystone this summer, here are several: Cupcakes and Canvases, Bike-In Movies, Kidtopia Kids Theatre, festivals such as Snake River Festival and Cirque D’Wheels, Model Boat Regata. If those don’t keep you busy, try Adventure Point Summer SNOW Tubing Hill, Kidtopia Play Park, Lakeside SUP, paddle boating, kayaking, GPS Geo-Cache Adventure, Keystone Science School Day Camps, miniature golf and dinner wagon rides. There are plenty of freebies, too, including a free scenic ride for kids 12 and under and if you’re staying at the resort, the Kidtopia Children’s Theatre in the Quaking Aspen Amphitheatre is free on Fridays.
Region 5, known for waterfalls and backcountry, is south of Estes Park and contains Longs Peak—the park's iconic fourteener—and the Wild Basin area. Other peaks and passes include Lily Mountain, Estes Cone, Twin Sisters, Boulder-Grand Pass, and Granite Pass. Eugenia Mine operated about the late-19th to early-20th century, with some old equipment and a log cabin remaining. Sites and trails include Boulder Field, Wild Basin Trail, and Homer Rouse Memorial Trail.
Glacial geology in Rocky Mountain National Park can be seen from the mountain peaks to the valley floors. Ice is a powerful sculptor of this natural environment and large masses of moving ice are the most powerful tools. Telltale marks of giant glaciers can be seen all throughout the park. Streams and glaciations during the Quaternary period cut through the older sediment, creating mesa tops and alluvial plains, and revealing the present Rocky Mountains. The glaciation removed as much as 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of sedimentary rocks from earlier inland sea deposits. This erosion exposed the basement rock of the Ancestral Rockies. Evidence of the uplifting and erosion can be found on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park in the hogbacks of the Front Range foothills. Many sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras exist in the basins surrounding the park.
Your first stop should be the Quarry Visitors Center from where you can access the main attraction at the park, the Quarry Exhibit Hall, built over the Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry. A huge wall of windows allows in natural light, making it feel more like an excavation site than a museum. Fossils are in various states, from still encased in the stone wall to fully assembled skeletons.
The Gant is one of the best romantic getaways for couples who like the flexibility of staying in a luxury condominium hotel located at the base of Aspen Mountain. The resort has two heated outdoor swimming pools, three hot tubs, five tennis courts, barbecue grills and laundry facilities. Summer activities in Aspen include whitewater rafting, fly fishing, golf, horseback riding, jeep tours, hot air balloon rides, parasailing and mountain biking. In the winter, plan a ski trip, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, snowcat powder tours and ice skating.
A small mining camp not so long ago, Boulder is a modern, sophisticated town at the base of the Flatirons, popular among extreme sports folks and lovers of magnificent nature of all ages. Stroll through the charming downtown with the popular Pearl Street Mall. Discover Boulder’s past at the Boulder History Museum located in the beautiful historic Harbeck-Bergheim House. Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art not only has a range of permanent and temporary exhibits, but also popular educational programs.
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.