17 AMAZING Places to Visit in Colorado [December 2019]

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Colorado is the kind of destination that you can enjoy throughout the year! The dramatic mountain landscapes attract visitors whether there is snow or sunshine. For those that want to escape into the wilderness, and enjoy some of the most beautiful natural sights in the US, then Colorado is the place to go! 

The best places to visit in Colorado are usually revolved around the mountains and unspoiled wilderness. However, there are plenty of exciting activities that all kinds of people can enjoy in this stunning state. 

Whether you are looking for solitude or adventure, the destinations in Colorado have it on offer. Here is our list of some of the top Colorado destinations. 

Staying Safe in Colorado

When it comes to safety in Colorado, there isn’t too much to worry about. The main concerns here are of mountain safety while hiking. Many people worry about bears while in the Colorado mountains. Always make sure that you hike in a group, and are well prepared for the trails. Also, be sure to have all the necessary emergency numbers available. 

Beyond potential mountain and outdoor dangers, Colorado is generally a safe destination. Take regular caution when in urban areas just like you would in any city. This is a pretty quiet and peaceful state, so there are no major dangers when it comes to your safety. 

 

#1 – Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the most amazing places in Colorado!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo credit – fullsuitcase.com )

  • One of the most popular national parks in the US
  • Full of wildlife and incredible hiking trails

The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best places to visit in Colorado in the summer. This massive national park has more than 100 mountain peaks that rise over 10 000 feet! Follow the Trail Ridge Road that runs through the park, passing many different hiking trails. 

This park is a complete hiker’s paradise! From short and easy walks to intense mountain summits, it is on offer here! Look out for the abundance of wildlife, enjoy some fishing, or even go horse riding through the mountains! 

Best Attractions
  • Longs Peak: This is the highest peak in the park, reaching a whopping 14,259 feet. Summiting Longs Peak is a special accomplishment for any serious hiker! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

#2 – Vail 

Easily one of the most fun places to check out in Colorado

Vail 

Vail (Photo credit – tripadvisor.com )

  • A world-class ski resort town
  • Suitable for all levels of skiers

If you are after the ultimate skiing holiday in Colorado, then Vail is the place to go! This famous Colorado vacation town really comes alive in winter, with keen skiers hitting the wide range of slopes. 

Vail may be one of the more expensive and exclusive ski resort towns in Colorado, but it offers an unforgettable experience! With many luxury resorts, cozy ski chalets, restaurants, and designer stores, this is the place to go for the ideal snowy experience! 

Best Attractions
  • The ski slopes: People come to Vail to ski, due to its world-class slopes and facilities. The slopes are suitable for all kinds of skill and experience levels – offering a seriously fun time! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Vail, Colorado

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#3 – The Garden of the Gods Park

A very cool place in Colorado to go for the day

The Garden of the Gods Park

The Garden of the Gods Park (Photo credit – backpacker.com )

  • A registered National Natural Landmark
  • A popular park for outdoor activities

The Garden of the Gods Park is an awesome place to experience one of the most impressive natural landmarks in Colorado! Most people visit the park for the incredible 300 foot stone towers rising from the landscape. However, this is a beautiful park for many reasons.

You can stop in at the visitor and nature center to look at the museum and learn about the park’s geology. Hiking and mountain biking are also popular activities here.

Best Attractions
  • The Garden of the Gods: This fascinating landscape of stone towers and giant boulders is an impressive spectacle to behold. This unique landmark is one of the best Colorado points of interest. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The Garden of the Gods Park, Colorado

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#4 – Mesa Verde National Park

One of Colorado’s coolest historical sites!

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park (Photo credit – mycoloradoparks.com )

  • Includes the famous ancient cliff dwellings
  • Many excellent hiking trails are available in the park

The Mesa Verde National Park is one of the best Colorado attractions for those interested in a unique ancient site! The park includes interesting cliff dwellings that date all the way back to 600AD to 1300AD. This was when they were inhabited by the Ancestral Pueblo. 

Besides the cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde National Park also boasts some excellent hiking trails and lookout points. 

Best Attractions
  • Cliff Palace: Regular ranger-led tours are available of this fascinating historical site. You can access these amazing cliff dwellings, and learn all about their long history. This is a truly unique landmark to witness when visiting Colorado. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

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#5 – Frisco 

A nice quiet place to see in Colorado

Frisco

Frisco (Photo credit – friscogov.com )

  • A stunning little mountain town
  • A popular destination for skiers

The town of Frisco is one of the best Colorado places to visit for a ski holiday. Frisco is much more low-key than Vail, offering a charming mountain setting. The town is well-positioned for those that want to visit the I-70 Corridor.

Beyond the ski appeal, Frisco has plenty of inviting cafes, unique shops, and a classic small mountain town vibe. 

Best Attractions
  • Skiing: Frisco is in the perfect position for a Colorado ski vacation. You can easily access slopes around the I-70 corridor, Vail, and Beaver Creek from here. The popular ski resort Breckenridge is also close by. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Frisco, Colorado

#6 – Denver

Denver

Denver (Photo credit – outtherecolorado.com )

  • The capital city of Colorado
  • The city dates back to the Old West era

If you are after the best cities in Colorado, then Denver is on top of the list! This is the main metropolis in the state and is a necessary stop for any Colorado visit. The oldest area of Denver is Larimer Square, home to beautiful 19th-century buildings.

Enjoy the many interesting museums and art galleries while visiting this fun mountain city. 

Best Attractions
  • Denver Art Museum: This art museum covers 7 stories – making it one of the largest in the area! This incredible museum displays a wide range of work from different eras and artists. A truly interesting place to visit in Denver. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Denver, Colorado

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#7 – Beaver Creek

Cool place to see in Colorado with friends!

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek (Photo credit – resortsandlodges.com )

  • A popular mountain village
  • A ski resort in winter and a hiking hotspot in summer

Beaver Creek is a small town in the mountains of Colorado. It is one of the most popular destinations for Colorado vacations – mainly due to the well-known ski resort in the village. During summer months, the hiking center opens up with many flower specked trails.

The town also has a fun performing arts center and kids museum. 

Best Attractions
  • The ski resort: Most people come to Beaver Creek in winter to give the slopes a go! This town is a skiers paradise, and the resort here is of the highest standard. There are a number of different routes for all levels of skill. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Beaver Creek, Colorado

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#8 – Pike National Forest

A beautiful outdoor place to visit in Colorado

Pike National Forest

Pike National Forest (Photo credit – pixels.com )

  • Home to the impressive Pikes Peak
  • The most famous mountain in Colorado

When you visit Colorado, you will be sure to hear about Pikes Peak. This magnificent mountain rises tall at 14.115 feet – one of the tallest peaks in the Southwest. The iconic snow-capped peaks of this mountain are seriously popular to visit. 

Anyone visiting the stunning Pike National Forest will most likely be heading straight for this mountain. 

Best Attractions
  • Pikes Peak: You can take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway up to the summit, or drive up along the Pikes Peak Highway. This is one of the most scenic trips in Colorado! Of course, hiking is also an option for those wanting to get their blood pumping. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Pike National Forest, Colorado

#9 – Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs (Photo credit – villagetours.net )

  • A city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains
  • The largest city by area in Colorado

Colorado Springs is an iconic city in this state. It is most often visited as a base to access Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods. This beautiful city is a hikers paradise, being surrounded by glacier-covered mountains and world-famous trails. 

Best Attractions
  • Hiking trails: From Pikes Peak to Cheyenne Mountain and the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs is surrounded by amazing hiking trails. Be sure to pack your boots when visiting this city! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Colorado Springs, Colorado

#10 – Durango

One of the most underrated places to see in Colorado

Durango

Durango (Photo credit – planetware.com )

  • A historic town in Southern Colorado
  • Located at the base of spectacular mountains

Durango is one of the best Colorado vacation spots for its unbeatable mountain setting. During winter this is a thriving ski town, with a popular resort being just 15 minutes outside the town. There are also plenty of hiking routes around here. The famous Colorado Trail ends at Durango. 

Beyond the scenic mountains, the town itself is wonderful. Enjoy the well-restored historic downtown with its Old Western charms. 

Best Attractions
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway: This old railway runs from Durango to the mining town of Silverton. Riding the charming train is one of the best attractions in Durango, due to the amazing views and passes that the track runs through. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Durango, Colorado

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#11 – Gunnison National Park

An unknown (but awesome!) place to see in Colorado!

Gunnison National Park

Gunnison National Park (Photo credit – audubon.org )

  • Home to the dramatic Black Canyon
  • There are many flat trails around the park

The Black Canyon at the Gunnison National Park is one of the most dramatic places to see in Colorado! This spectacular canyon has a depth of around 2000 feet. This is a truly amazing sight to behold. 

The Gunnison National Park feels really remote and removed – something that adds to its majestic charm!

Best Attractions
  • The Black Canyon: You can hike down into this monstrous canyon, or simply appreciate its grandeur from above. This enormous canyon is a seriously spectacular sight to behold! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Gunnison National Park, Colorado

#12 – The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

One of the more unique places to visit in Colorado!

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Photo credit – nps.gov )

  • A unique and diverse landscape in Colorado
  • The tallest sand dunes in America can be found here

When people think of Colorado, the first idea would be around snow-capped mountains, forests, and hiking trails. However, you can also come here to witness some of North America’s most impressive sand dunes!

This national park is a great destination for campers, or those wanting to play around on the dunes. You can climb them, sandboard down them, or hike through the surrounding forests. For anyone looking for diversity in the Colorado landscape, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve would be the place to go!

Best Attractions
  • The Star Dune: rising up to 750 feet, this is a monster of a sand dune! Climbing this dune is certainly no easy feat. The Star Dune can be seen from quite a distance, making it one of the most unique and impressive sights in Colorado. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado 

#13 – Aspen

A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Colorado

Aspen

Aspen (Photo credit – edition.cnn..com )

  • A ski resort town in the Rocky Mountains
  • A year-round outdoor destination

The town of Aspen is one of the best Colorado tourist attractions due to its ideal skiing conditions. The town is most popular during winter when the slopes really come alive. However, Aspen still manages to attract visitors throughout the year, with its beautiful mountain scenery and trails. 

Beyond the outdoor adventure that you can have in Aspen, the town is also a high-end destination. There are a number of boutique shops, some top restaurants, and a historic opera house. Aspen really is a special destination for an incredible Colorado vacation.            

Best Attractions
  • The ski resort: While Aspen is an awesome place to visit during the warmer summer months, it is most famously a winter destination. Visitors love the well-managed ski slopes, which are suitable for all levels of experience. 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Aspen, Colorado

#14 – The Million Dollar Highway

One of the most incredible free places to go to in Colorado

The Million Dollar Highway

The Million Dollar Highway (Photo credit – ridermagazine.com )

  • A highway around 25 miles long
  • One of the most amazing road trips

The Million Dollar Highway is a stretch of road that passes some of the most beautiful and interesting sights in Colorado. The highway passes through the southwestern area of the state, near Ouray. 

Some of the spectacular places that the highway passes through includes the San Juan National Forest, Silverton, Animas Forks ghost town, and the Box Canyon Waterfall. Make sure that you bring your camera along on this breathtaking route. 

Best Attractions
  • Ouray: while there are a few beautiful towns along this highway, Ouray is one of the best to visit. This small town is found in a circular valley surrounded by hot springs. Ouray is an excellent stop on your road trip! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in The Million Dollar Highway, Colorado 

#15 – Royal Gorge

A must-visit place in Colorado on the weekend!

Royal Gorge

Royal Gorge (Photo credit – colorado.com )

  • Home to the highest suspension bridge in the country
  • A 1200 feet deep canyon

For some more dramatic scenery and exciting adventure, be sure to check out the Royal Gorge. This huge Arkansas River canyon can be admired from a number of different perspectives. This includes white water rafting, a train ride, or on the gondola from above. 

Whichever way you choose to take in Royal Gorge, the sheer magnitude will be sure to take your breath away! 

Best Attractions
  • The suspension bridge: One of the most thrilling ways to experience Royal Gorge is by walking across the suspension bridge. This gives you the most amazing views across the canyon, but it is also an exciting walk over the enormous drop!

#16 – Bridal Veil Falls 

Bridal Veil Falls 

Bridal Veil Falls (Photo credit – americansouthwest.net )

  • The tallest waterfall in Colorado
  • Near the attractive town of Telluride

Seeing the tallest waterfall in Colorado is definitely one of the best things to do here! Bridal Veil Falls is an impressive sight to behold, and well worth the short hike there. The waterfall can only be accessed by a short two-mile hike. 

The waterfall drops over 365 feet. The rocky landscape and fresh mountain air make this a magnificent destination! 

Best Attractions
  • Telluride: Bridal Veil Falls may be the main landmark here, but the nearby town of Telluride is also well worth visiting! This Victorian mining town is particularly good to visit during the winter ski season.

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado

#17 – Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells (Photo credit – fs.usda.gov )

  • Some of the best mountain sights in Colorado
  • The area has six enormous mountains

Head to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness for the quintessential Rocky Mountain views in Colorado! This place has some of the biggest and most impressive mountains in the state. Beyond the mountains, there are sparkling lakes, forests, and meadows to enjoy. 

Choose to hike the many trails around here or take in the scenery through the stunning drives. 

Best Attractions
  • The trails: The main reason to visit Maroon Bells is for the beautiful outdoor trails. Whether you are hiking or mountain biking, these trails offer an amazing time! 

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Maroon Bells, Colorado

Final Thoughts

Colorado is the ultimate destination for those wanting to get outside and in the mountains. This beautiful state can be enjoyed throughout the year. Whether you come for the snowy winter ski resorts or the sunny mountain hiking trails, you will be sure to have an adventure of a lifetime! 

Any vacation in Colorado is all about getting outdoors and enjoying the unspoiled nature. The landscapes here do vary dramatically – but they are all well worth witnessing first-hand!

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.