Colorado is a state full of national parks, snow-capped mountains and laid-back culturally diverse cities making a Colorado road trip one of the most diverse adventures you’ll find in the US. This chilled-out state has beauty at every corner, no matter what season you decide to visit.
Colorado, bordered by two of my favorite American states Utah and Arizona, is the perfect place for a ski trip in the winter and is a hiker’s dream destination in the summer. A perfect state to visit for nature lovers and a fantastic place for anyone looking for a relaxing holiday — Colorado is truly something special!
If you’re planning your own Colorado road trip (and you should be!)here’s a list of places that cannot be missed.
Must Visit Colorado Road Trip Spots
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park
For unique landscapes, head to the Great Dunes National Park and Preserve for the tallest sand dunes in North America. In a state full of mountains, sandstones and hiking trails — the sand dunes are a little unexpected. It’s like playing in a big sandbox. A must stop on your Colorado road trip!
Climb up and ride down the sand dunes to test your sandboarding skills. On warmer days, there’s a creek that runs along the base of dunes to cool off. The tallest sand dune is over 750-feet (228.6 meters) high! Riding down sand dunes isn’t an everyday occurrence when traveling through America, so take the opportunity when you can.
2. City of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is perfect for nature lovers and history buffs. Sitting at the bottom of Pikes Peak, this fun city has no shortage of attractions to check out during your Colorado road trip.
For the nature lovers, head to the Garden of the Gods for a light hike and bizarrely shaped redstone formations. Visit during sunrise for a unique and picture perfect way to wake up. Spend an afternoon on the sightseeing tour to the top of Pikes Peak where, on a clear day, you can see five other states from the top!
For the history and cultural buffs, spend the day museum hopping. Check out The Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum to see the extensive collection of art and items from the surrounding Native American tribes. Other museums include the Peterson Air and Space Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.
Two other can’t-miss attractions in Colorado Springs are the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the US Olympic Complex Training Center.
3. Hanging Lake
Hanging Lake is an absolute must visit while in Colorado. Outside of Glenwood Springs, Hanging Lake is a beloved hiking spot with a sweet reward at the end of the hike. Described as “nature’s masterpiece” it’s an ecological site you have to see to believe.
Gentle waterfalls, clear green and blue water and you guessed it, trees and shrubs that are hanging from the top, make for a unique waterfall and lake hike. Every single angle of this unique gem in the middle of the trail is stunning — worth the somewhat steep hike it takes to get there!
4. Red Rocks Amphitheatre
An iconic concert venue that is on every music lovers bucket list — Red Rocks Amphitheatre. 10 miles (16 km) outside of Denver is an open-air music venue that attracts famous musical performances year-round.
The natural acoustics provided by the surrounding rocks will make it one of the best shows you’ve ever heard. A unique landscape and musical experience wrapped in one perfect evening. Check out their website to see if any of your favorites will be there during your time in Colorado. The Amphitheatre also hosts movie nights, has an array of hiking trails and features yoga retreats from time to time!
5. City of Denver
Experience the heartbeat of Colorado in the capital city of Denver. Often ranking at the top of the “coolest cities to live” lists, this mile-high city will have you wanting to pack your bags and stay for a while.
Denver is a popular winter destination with a handful of ski resorts such as Echo Mountain and Winter Park. Besides the many day-trips and outdoor activities — Denver is a culturally rich and diverse city with festivals and events being held every weekend!
Spend the day in the many museums, take a brewery tour, check out the Denver Zoo or walk around the historic and quaint downtown. If you’re feeling outdoorsy, spend a day on the slopes, whitewater raft down the Colorado River or go bouldering. Kickback and enjoy a beer or work up a sweat — Denver is great for a range of interests.
6. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most stunning parks you can visit in the States. 77 mountains and elevations that range from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet (2,200 to 3,600 meters) with endless campsites, options for hiking trails and views that photos don’t do justice — it’s one of the most visited National Parks for a reason.
The Rocky Mountain National Park also contains the Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. This road is the highest elevation of any paved road in the States! The trail drives a 48-mile loop up and around the park, with views leaving you speechless. The ideal Colorado afternoon.
There are endless activities to partake in and definitely worth spending a few days to really take it all in. Camp at the park or book yourself a cabin in the nearby town of Estes Park. Spend the day horseback riding, biking or hiking one of the many trails (and spot the hundreds of wildlife living in the park).
7. Dinosaur National Monument
One of the coolest ways to spend a day in Colorado — walking the paths of some of the world’s largest extinct creatures.Your first stop will be the Quarry Visitors Center where there is over 1,500 dinosaur remains on display. All encased in the rocks they were discovered in! Take a guided hike through the park to discover the fossils and remains that are still embedded within the rock. A perfect day for dinosaur-loving kids and adults alike. It’s not every day you get to see living proof of the giants that walked before us!
Do you have any more suggestions on must visit places in Colorado for the perfect road trip adventure? Be sure to leave a comment!