By: Sarah Spalla
There is no better place to hop in the car and drive then Colorado! From the towering peaks, deep mountain lakes, desert hikes, exciting rivers and endless vistas, you’ll find no shortage of activities to keep the young and the young at heart busy. In fact, you could spend months exploring the Centennial state and not scratch the surface of what Colorado has to offer. With over 300 days of sunshine a year you’re almost guaranteed to be tempted to drive with the top down!
Most folks find themselves starting their trip in the Capital City, Denver. At a mile above sea level it’s a great idea to stay for a few days to get acclimated to the elevation. There is no shortage of exceptional food, drink, art and nightlife options.
Highlight to not miss! – RiNo District –
Located just north of downtown Denver, RiNo includes a remarkable concentration of creative businesses, including architects, art galleries, designers, furniture makers, illustrators, painters, media artists, photographers, sculptors and an array of studio spaces. RiNo is “Where Art Is Made” in Denver and you can always find something new and exciting to check out around the neighborhood. I’d highly recommend checking out Crush Walls, every year the world’s best graffiti artists get together and transform old, abandoned walls into masterpieces.
Just an hour and a half west of Denver is the dynamic ski town of Breckenridge. It’s known for its ski resort, year-round alpine activities and rich gold mining history. This former mining town as a nationally recognized Historic District main street, home to galleries, shops and many restaurants.
Highlight not to miss! – Hike Mt. Quandary
For the athletic traveler, hiking a 14’er is often on the list. Quandary Peak (14,265) is located 7.5 miles south of Breckenridge in the White River National Forest; it is the highest point in Colorado’s Ten Mile Range. This is a relatively short hike for a peak however it is steep, and folks should be prepared physically and have the correct gear. For those hikers who reach the summit, views of the Mosquito, Gore, and Sawatch ranges will not disappoint. Start your hike very early morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
3. Buena Vista, Co
Buena Vista is often considered to be the whitewater capital of the world – the mighty Arkansas river flows directly through town. Recently designated a National Monument, Brown’s Canyon is the most popular whitewater section in the country.
From mild to wild, the Arkansas offers trips for all abilities and host’s a world class whitewater park downtown. This quaint town has many hiking, biking, horseback riding and fly-fishing opportunities as well.
Highlight not to miss! – Paddlefest May 24-27th
Paddlefest is yearly event held in May, bringing together paddlers and spectators alike for a fun filled weekend. With multiple whitewater competitions, demos, events, and skill sessions, it’s a boater’s paradise. Not to worry if you are not a river runner… the weekend hosts tons of live music, food, kids’ activities and is sure to be the perfect weekend for visitors of all ages.
4. Alamosa, CO
In the heart of the San Luis Valley, Alamosa is a far cry from the Denver Metro scene. One of the oldest Colorado towns, it’s steeped in history and was once a major hub for the Rio Grande Railroad.
Today, visitors can embark on a walking tour of the downtown, which includes 25 landmarks. Even though it’s off the beaten path there are plenty of dining options, if you are in the market for Green Chili, Alamosa is the place to be!
Highlight not to miss! – Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The Great Sand Dunes is a geologic wonder, hosting the tallest dunes in North America. This is not just a park to look at, try sand sledding! After hiking up one of the dunes, send your way down the hill on a sled or board. These are available to rent at the visitor’s center.
5. Durango, CO
Situated in the far Southwest corner of Colorado lies Durango, a city surrounded by activities and action! One of the main attractions is the famous narrow-gauge train ride, which accesses terrain unavailable via highway.
Just outside of town lies Mesa Verde National park, a unique place today experiences the archaeological heritage of the Pueblo people. With over 5,000 sites dating back to 1300 A.D, it’s a chance to see how the original inhabitants of this area lived.
· Highlight not to miss! – Steamworks Brewing Company
Whether you are flying into Denver or hopping in your own car, make sure to stop in these places during your next Colorado vacation, If road trips aren’t for you, don’t worry there are a number of transportation options to take you from the airport to these locations. Now all that is left to do, is to start checking these places off your bucket list.