The Only Colorado Road Trip Itinerary You Need
You may know Colorado for its sky-scraping mountains and powdery slopes. While the Rocky Mountains are unbearably beautiful, the Centennial State offers so much more, including a wide range of natural diversity, historic sites, and unforgettable thrills that make it the perfect choice for your next cross-country road trip.
In Colorado, you can do it all. From skiing and dining at world-renowned resorts to immersing yourself in the history of world heritage sites, Colorado provides non-stop action for the whole family.
If you still need some convincing that Colorado is a perfect road trip destination, look no further than our itinerary for the perfect Rocky Mountain adventure.
Swap the Snow for Sand
The Rocky Mountains aren’t the only slopes in Colorado. In fact, in this limitless state, you can board down more than just snow.
Situated near the Colorado and New Mexico border, Great Sand Dunes national park is home to the largest sand dunes in North America. Towering 700 feet tall, these sand dunes are the centerpiece of a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.
In addition to boarding and sledding down these majestic dunes, you can hike some of the most picturesque trails in the state. It’s not every day you see Sahara-esque sand dunes amidst the backdrop of snow-capped mountains!
The action doesn’t stop at night, either. Designated as a dark sky preserve, Great Sand Dunes National Park offers some of the best stargazing in Colorado. Thanks to its high elevation and low light pollution, you can sleep under a wondrous mosaic of the solar system.
Take a Pit-Stop in Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is Colorado’s largest city, geographically speaking, and it offers a fantastic collection of natural and architectural sights.
One such sight is Bishop Castle. Who would’ve thought you could tour a castle in Colorado? Built single-handedly by Colorado resident Jim Bishop over 40 years without any plans or blueprints, this 160-foot marvel features bridges, turrets, and even a fire-breathing dragon. Even better, admission is free!
Colorado Springs is also home to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. Not for the faint of heart, this suspension bridge is the highest in the nation, towering 956 feet above the Arkansas River. The park additionally offers a high-octane zip line across the gorge. If you’re looking for a less adrenaline-inducing way to take in the views, look no further than their picturesque gondola ride over the vibrant red rocks.
Don’t forget to hike through the aptly-named Garden of Gods. In this National Natural Landmark, you will be awestruck by the impressively large red rock formations. Pikes Peak is another marvelous sight in the area, offering unbeatable views from an elevation of more than 14,000 feet.
Behold Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most popular national parks in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park truly epitomizes the natural beauty of Colorado.
You will want to spend a few days here because the 415-square mile park protects one of the most awe-inspiring mountain ranges in the world.
With 355 miles of hiking trails, you can trek through its steep peaks, shimmering lakes, and vast plateaus. One of the most popular and strenuous hikes is the trail to Sky Pond. You’ll pass waterfalls, alpine lakes, high mountain views, and fun river and stream crossings. The 15-mile Long Peak hike will reward avid hikers with views from an elevation of 14,259 feet.
For a more relaxed vibe, check out Bear Lake, a serene beauty of crystal clear water amidst a basin of towering evergreens. Alberta Falls also provides an easy hike up a stunning waterfall.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Colorado’s diverse wildlife, look no further than Moraine Park. In this lush valley, you can see herds of elk, bighorn rams, majestic moose, black bears, and mountain lions. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a bald eagle soaring overhead.
Take a Dip in Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs is an hour outside Aspen and is home to one of Colorado’s most popular hiking trails–Hanging Lake.
This small, pristine lake tucked high up in the rocks of Glenwood Canyon shines like an emerald. You can take a dip in these pristine waters, but beware, the aptly named lake hangs off a steep drop off.
You also don’t want to miss the relaxing Glenwood Hot Spring Pools. Heated by natural geothermal energy, the 405-foot long pool has a temperature of a soothing 90 degrees. A smaller pool is heated to over 100 degrees. This attraction also offers water slides and a children’s pool, so you won’t want to leave this oasis.
Once you’ve relaxed in the hot springs, spike your adrenaline at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Touted as “America’s only mountain-top theme park,” this unique spot offers roller coasters and alpine slides that provide both thrills and some of the most epic views of Colorado’s terrain.
Enjoy the Slopes at Telluride Mountain Village
Simply put, Telluride is one of the coolest towns you will ever come across. This former mining town in the Rocky Mountains has an old-school downtown area with delicious eateries and employee-owned boutique shops.
Telluride is also home to one of the top-rated ski resorts in the world. With a maximum elevation of over 13,000 feet and over 2,000 acres of terrain, both beginners and experts alike will enjoy getting first tracks on the alpine powder.
Even if you don’t want to hit the slopes, the town of Telluride provides one of the best apres-ski environments you could hope for. From coffee shops to vintage saloons, you will love the energetic, small-town feel of this exceptional town.
In fact, Telluride is an amazing place to visit year-round. Even when the snow has melted, the Telluride Mountain Village Gondola trams visitors up the mountain, providing some of the most epic views in the state.
If you come in September, be sure to check out the Telluride Film Festival. Regarded as one of the most prestigious independent film festivals in the world, Telluride holds the premieres of some of the biggest films each year. Lodging is difficult to find during this time, but you can spend a day in town, catch a movie, and look for some of the biggest stars on the planet.
Live It Up in Aspen
While Telluride provides a vintage, small-town atmosphere, Aspen is home to one of the most upscale ski resorts in the world.
Like Telluride, Aspen’s Snowmass Ski Resort is world-class, providing over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. Unlike many of Colorado’s ski resorts, Snowmass’ slopes are better suited for families and beginner to immediate skiers.
Additionally, Aspen’s downtown area is a mountain village like no other. On top of an array of fine dining, Aspen is a retail mecca, offering some of the state’s best vintage and high-fashion storefronts. When you look good, you ski good, right?
After a long day of skiing, hiking, mountain biking, or even shopping, you’ll want to treat yourself to one of Aspen’s diverse wellness offerings. From oxygen facials at the St. Regis hotel to full-body massages at numerous other spas, Aspen will make you feel like you own the mountain.
Appreciate the History of Mesa Verde National Park
More than just a national park, Mesa Verde is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the vast sandstone formations, deep valleys, and otherworldly mesas are truly a sight to see, the real attraction is the breathtaking collection of preserved Puebloan structures.
In the late 12th century, ancestral Puebloan people built massive dwellings beneath the overhanging cliffs of this area, ranging in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms. They lived in these dwellings for nearly a century before migrating south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona.
Today, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the North American Continent.
You can tour any of these five incredible structures and literally walk through history. The preservation of these ancient dwellings and the ingenuity of the ancient people who originally occupied this land will amaze you.
Experience the Great Outdoors With HearHere
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S. and offers everything an adventurous soul desires: From world-class skiing to meditative hot springs to historic sites, Colorado’s uniquely Western landscape is a must-go destination.
Are you looking for something to listen to on your road trip to Colorado? Download HearHere and explore why Colorado is revered among outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and thrill-seekers the world over. We curate content based on your interests – from sports to history to local culture – and package it into a high-quality “road trip companion” you can access at any time, so you don’t miss a thing.
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