Visiting several national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, is easy or make the most of the abundant outdoor activities, which include hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, golf and horseback riding. There are several fascinating museums and over 15 galleries to visit on the First Friday Gallery Walk. Round off the day with a Local Table foodie tour or take in a Canyon Concert Ballet or the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra. Things to Do in Fort Collins
Owners Wendye Sykes and Shelley Powers came to Estes Park from San Francisco looking for an escape from the grind of everyday city life — and that’s exactly what they’ve created at River Spruce. Offering nine different cabins, you’ll find lodgings suitable for couples and families all nestled amidst the scenic Rocky Mountain wilderness and along the Big Thompson River.
An excellent weekend destination, Telluride is a beautiful town wedged in a picturesque glacial canyon. Located at the base of the beautiful San Juan Mountains, this former mining area has become a mecca for an array of travelers. From artists to skiers, celebrities and hippies, travelers flock to the area to explore its restored Victorian main street and nearby attractions. A delightful shopping area, visitors can peruse the local history at the Telluride Historical Museum, browse artwork at the Telluride Arts District or indulge in its many outdoor adventures. Bear Creek Falls is a great hiking destination, while visitors can also find an array of family-friendly swimming and fishing spots throughout the area.
A gorgeous mountain town that is not as well-known as its counterparts, Salida offers a variety of historic attractions to fill up a weekend itinerary. Take the Monarch Scenic Tram to soak in stunning Rocky Mountain views, go for a dip in the Salida Hot Springs or explore the area’s local history and culture at the nearby Salida Museum. When the weather warms up, grab a kayak or tube and head to the Arkansas River, and active travelers can utilize one of the many scenic mountain bike trails to explore the region further. A certified Colorado Creative District, visitors can also browse the area’s abundance of impressive art studios and galleries.
Depending on when you choose to stay in an Estes Park vacation rental, you may be able to catch family-friendly events like the annual Teddy Bear Picnic or Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival. If you aren't able to make it to those events, don't worry: you can always pick up some local history at the Lula W. Dorsey Museum or Stanley Steam Car Museum. Visit the local shops and galleries like the Wild Spirits Gallery or Alpenglow Images & Accents to see some local photography, woodworking, jewelry, and other crafts or pick up a souvenir or two for friends and family back home.
Loveland, dubbed as the ‘Sweetheart City’ and known nationwide for its Valentine’s Day Love Stamp Program, is near the college town of Fort Collins in northern Colorado. Rent a charmingly restored 1903 Victorian cottage for your love nest, or snuggle together in a neighborhood home just minutes from hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park. A visit to the Sweetheart City Winery is a great opportunity to sample some local wines while checking out original oil paintings inspired by a trip to Tuscany. Voted by locals as one of the most romantic places in Loveland, South Shore Parkway is certain to aid in a stolen kiss or two. Sample small plates and incredible desserts at Door 222 Food and Drink, a downtown gem not to be missed.
Experience the high country the old fashioned way — atop a horse. This is a wonderful way for older children to see more alpine country than possible on foot. There are two stables located within the park: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. Approximately 260 miles of trails are open to horse use, which makes up more than 70 percent of the total trail network in the park.
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.
Trail Ridge Road will not open until at least Memorial Weekend but there are many amazing areas open year round in the park. Heavenly Valley is the one place in the park where sledding is allowed but you must bring your own tube or sled. Cross-country skiing is incredible with so many trails to choose from and snow shoeing is a great way to explore new areas. Stop at one of the visitor centers as you enter the park to find out what areas are open and it is always best to call ahead for weather and road conditions. Check forecasts before you go at weather.gov and insert "Trail Ridge, CO" for the location. For information about Rocky Mountain National Park call 970-586-1206 daily 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Mountain Time).
Indiana is well known for its farms, speedways and sports, and there is plenty more to experience for every visitor. A diverse economy, historic sites, outdoor activities, great food and hidden attractions are just some of the interesting things about this Midwestern US state. A trip to Indiana is sure to provide you with all that you look for in a vacation.
The Experience: If Aspen isn't quite your mountain town scene, head to Vail instead. It's equally as idyllic (it was modeled after European mountain resorts), pedestrian-friendly, and lovely, but the town itself is more of a square in a village with a small collection of boutiques and restaurants for visitors. Ride up and down the gondolas for mountain views in every direction and ski the unique back bowls. It's also closer to Denver, making it easier to get to and, therefore, a little more crowded during peak seasons.
Cassie Abel, 28, of Denton, Texas, pulls her daughter Brynlee, 6, in a sled on a road that would normally be open to cars in Rocky Mountain National Park on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Abel's father-in-law, Shane Abel, 63, left, said he's frustrated a government shutdown nearly 2,000 miles away was hindering the family vacation. (Photo: Trevor Hughes, Trevor Hughes-USA TODAY NETWORK)
Although Aspen is best known as a winter sports destination, this lovely little town in the heart of the White River National Forest is a brilliant year-round destination for active adventurers, festival lovers and arts aficionados. Besides downhill skiing, you can try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating and dog sledding, before rounding off your day with Après-Ski cocktails, local craft beers or a delicious meal.
When it’s your turn for some pampering, escape to Smith Fork Ranch in Crawford within the secluded Gunnison National Forest, where romance and relaxation are as big of a priority as adventure. Indulge in sumptuous open-air massages, luxe cabins and candlelight dinners featuring farm-to-table cuisine from the ranch’s organic homestead. During adult weeks in September and October, activities range from archery to fly-fishing, if you’re not too busy taking it easy.
SouthwestOuray has been a special destination of world travelers for more than 100 years. This small intimate community is nestled in some of the most rugged and towering peaks of the Rockies. Set at the narrow head of a valley at 7,792 feet and surrounded on three sides with 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks - Ouray has been eloquently nicknamed the "Switzerland of America."
No matter what time of year you choose to stay in Estes Park, you will find pleasant weather to suit the outdoor activities of the season. The coldest month is January, with an average high of 38 degrees – excellent skiing and snowboarding weather. July tends to be the warmest month of the year, with average highs reaching 78 degrees. This warmth, combined with the region's low humidity, makes for the perfect climate for hiking, biking, boating, and more.
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.
Just a few miles from the town of Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. The soaring mountain peaks, alpine lakes and meadows, forests, and abundant wildlife showcase nature at its best. The park has more than 100 peaks over 10,000 feet, including Longs Peak, the highest in the park, at 14,259 feet.
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.
For the ultimate mountain getaway, stay in one of our updated vintage 1, 2, or 3 bedroom cabins! Just 1 mile from the entrance to RMNP on the quiet side of town. Walk to a Park trailhead, fish for stocked trout in front of your cabin, soak in the hot tub, relax around the campfire. Experience the Estes of yesteryear! Idlewilde by the River Details
No trip to Estes Park would be complete without a leisurely drive along the Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park, with its winding scenic views of craggy peaks. Park your vehicle and take a hike through one of the many pine-scented trails bordered by forests and tundra. Keep an eye out for elk and other wildlife as you go! Roosevelt National Forest is another wilderness area worth exploring, Meanwhile, you can enjoy the breathtaking views over the valley on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway, which connects the town to the summit of Prospect Mountain. Down Estes Park has lots of options for one-off shopping and dining, whether you feel like chowing down on a handmade pizza or a juicy elk burger. Afterward, quench your thirst with a pint of Colorado craft beer at one of Estes' local breweries.
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.
Head to Denver, Colorado where you can see shows, visit museums and sample new flavors at gourmet restaurants. The Curtis – a DoubleTree by Hilton is a boutique hotel with 336 innovative accommodations, a retro dining experience and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The Bigger Better Deal Rooms offer 350 square feet of living space and views of downtown Denver. There are three types of suites to choose from: a KISS Suite, a Rolling Stones Suite and a suite dedicated to the Spice Girls. Guests can also stay in a “Hyper Themed” room on each of the 13 themed floors, such as the Jimmy Buffett Suite and the Ghostbusters Suite.
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 Snow Queen Lodge is a Victorian jewel built during Aspen's Wild West Silver Boom that was later converted to a family-run cozy bed and breakfast. It has nine charming rooms with private baths and tasteful Victorian details and a spacious loft at a different location. The lodge is located in downtown Aspen at the base of Aspen Mountain, walking distance from the gondola, world class skiing, and the free shuttles that will take you to other mountains such as Snowmass, Highlands, or Buttermilk.
Plan a weekend of pampering and relaxation at St Julien Hotel in downtown Boulder. The hotel features a 10,000-square-foot spa with 12 treatment rooms, and a two-lane infinity pool with a whirlpool and outside terrace. Guests can get in shape at the fitness center with the latest cardiovascular and aerobic equipment. Choose from 201 rooms and suites with luxury bathrooms with soaking tubs and separate glass showers. Ask for a view of the Flatiron Mountains when you book your stay. All rooms offer complimentary Internet access, wired and wireless.
You’ll feel really spoiled (especially in Vail!) with complimentary WiFi, complimentary underground valet parking, free breakfast buffet included a surprisingly hefty selection of pastries, breads, fruits, meats, cheeses, cold cereals, and eggs, as well as juice, tea, and coffee. And the outdoor heated swimming pool is worth taking the plunge just for the view.
Most visitors to the park drive over the famous Trail Ridge Road, but other roads include Fall River Road and Bear Lake Road. The park is open every day of the year, weather permitting. Due to the extended winter season in higher elevations, Trail Ridge Road between Many Parks Curve and the Colorado River Trailhead is closed much of the year. The road is usually open again by Memorial Day and closes in mid-October, generally after Columbus Day. Fall River Road does not open until about July 4 and closes by, or in, October for vehicular traffic. Snow may also fall in sufficient quantities in higher elevations to require temporary closure of the roads into July, which is reported on the road status site.
Located on Main Street of the charming historic mining town of Frisco, Colorado, the Frisco Lodge Bed and Breakfast has been greeting guests with comfort, luxury, and old-world hospitality since 1885. A range of opulent rooms with refined furnishings will make you feel pampered and relaxed, and the beautiful cozy living room with a piano and fireplace will allow you to meet some interesting people and have a chat or a glass of wine in the afternoon.
To reach Rocky Mountain National Park, many travelers fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) and either rent a car and drive the 80-some miles northwest to Estes Park or take the Estes Park Shuttle, which runs frequent routes from the airport to Estes Park for $45 one-way and $85 round-trip. There is no public transportation available between the airport and the park.
Guest rooms at both lodge buildings are tastefully decorated and fully equipped with the necessary amenities for absolute comfort, including private bathrooms with showers and soaking tubs, stone fireplaces, and flat-screen televisions. The inn is situated within walking distance of the town’s restaurants, bars, and clubs, as well as other entertainment and events that happen on a regular basis. The Minturn Inn is located two hours from Denver.
What makes a stay in an Estes Park cabin such an unforgettable experience is the stunning landscape in which the cabins are built. Not only do you have amazing views, but the cabins are incorporated in such a way that you can experience the nature right outside your front door. Estes Park offers all kinds of outdoor activities, from geocaching to rock climbing and whitewater rafting.
Aspen has developed a reputation as one of Colorado’s most glamorous getaways, making this former mining town one of the best weekend trips in Colorado for an upscale escape. Though you can easily spend the day skiing Aspen’s legendary slopes, you can also take advantage of the city’s highly regarded arts and cultural scene—the Wheeler Opera House is a must. And when you hit the town for dinner and drinks, keep your eyes peeled for celebrity sightings, which are just part of the fun of an Aspen vacation.
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.
Surrounded by over 100,000 acres of the Pike National Forest, the Ranch at Emerald Valley is an unmatched, all-inclusive retreat that combines the rustic charm of a wilderness enclave with The Broadmoor’s incomparable luxury and service. Honeymooners can indulge in one of 10 beautifully appointed cabins, featuring gas fireplaces, rich furnishings, and modern amenities. Couples can spend their days fly fishing in pristine mountain lakes, hiking and biking along scenic trails or exploring the mountains on horseback. Afterward, unwind by soaking in an outdoor hot tub and sipping fine wine on a panoramic terrace while enjoying the beauty of a Rocky Mountain sunset. All meals and ranch activities are included as part of the stay, making it an ideal setting for intimate getaways where every detail is thoughtfully handled.
During the winter most of Trail Ridge Road is closed due to heavy snow, limiting motorized access to the edges of the park. Winter activities include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing which are possible from either the Estes Park or Grand Lake entrances. On the east side near Estes Park, skiing and snowshoeing trails are available off Bear Lake Road, such as the Bear Lake, Bierstadt Lake, and Sprague Lake trails and at Hidden Valley. Slopes for sledding are also available at Hidden Valley. The west side of the park near Grand Lake also has viable snowshoeing trails. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed after climbing up one of the higher slopes, especially late in the snow season after avalanche danger has subsided, and technical climbing remains also a possibility, although typically differing in style from the summer months.
The winter view of Longs Peak from the Dream Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is an epic sight. The wind kicks up a flurry of snow, sweeping the massive mountain and sending a chill we can feel through the screen. Does this make you want to put on your boots or slide under a blanket? Brandon Selinsky, www.sharetheexperience.org
The city of Vail was built to accommodate the Vail Ski Resort, which is the largest single-mountain ski resort in the country. With 193 marked skiing trails, Vail is one of the nation’s most popular ski resorts as well. The Tyrolean-style village is nearly as well visited during the summer. Nearby streams and lakes stocked with fish make Vail an angler’s dream, and opportunities for river rafting abound. Horseback riding, mountain biking, golf and hiking are other popular warm-weather activities.
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With over 1,800 acres of skiable terrain in Beaver Creek, it’s no wonder this resort town is a top choice for a weekend trip in Colorado. Beaver Creek is home to the Birds of Prey downhill course, too—a difficult run that’s often included in World Cup races in early December. Not up to the challenge? No worries. There’s plenty more to do like catching a show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center or hanging out at the Beaver Creek Resort. Swing by in the afternoon for a taste of their fresh-baked (and free) chocolate chip cookies.