Colorado is a state in the USA. It is known for its scenic landforms and snowy mountains. People visit Colorado to enjoy skiing, camping, and hiking on trails such as the Continental Divide Trail. Colorado has many national parks such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. People can visit famous natural landmarks such as the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak.
Colorado is bordered by six other states: Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Utah. It borders two Canadian provinces: Alberta and British Columbia. Most of Colorado is in the Rocky Mountains, but it also has deserts such as the Great Plains and the Mojave Desert. The Eastern Plains is a prairie that reaches Nebraska and Kansas.
The USA’s highest point, Mount Elbert at 14,433 ft (4,401 m), is in Colorado. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has cliffs up to 2,000 ft (610 m). Denver is the capital of Colorado and also its largest city. 3 million people live in Colorado, mainly in the Front Range Urban Corridor.
Here’s a list of the 18 best things to do in Colorado, USA.
- 1. Denver, The Capital City of Colorado
- 2. Rocky Mountain National Park
- 3. Telluride
- 4. Aspen
- 5. Vail
- 6. Breckenridge
- 7. Colorado Springs
- 8. Boulder
- 9. Steamboat Springs
- 10. Durango
- 11. Crested Butte
- 12. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- 13. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
- 14. Grand Junction, Colorado
- 15. Dinosaur National Monument
- 16. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- 17. Mesa Verde National Park
- 18. The Maroon Bells
Best Things to do in Colorado 1-10
1. Denver, The Capital City of Colorado
Denver is the capital and largest city in the state of Colorado. In 2010, Denver had a population of 600,158 people which makes it the 14th most populous city in America. It was named after James W. Denver, governor of Kansas from 1855-1857 and then Governor of Colorado from 1861 until 1862. The Denver metropolitan area was estimated to have a population of 2,314,511 in 2009. The city is home to more than 1,600 technology and software companies making Denver the center of technology in the western part of the US.
Denver also has several state parks including Cherry Creek State Park, Clyfford Still Museum, and the Denver Botanic Gardens just to name a few. There are several professional sports teams in Denver including the MLS’ Colorado Rapids who play at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets play at Pepsi Center. The Denver Broncos are the city’s team and their home stadium is Sports Authority Field at Mile High which has a capacity of 76,125 people. The Colorado Avalanche play in the Pepsi Center which has the largest seating capacity (19,155) of any current NBA/NHL arena. The Colorado Rockies play in Coors field which has a capacity of 50,398 people.
Denver also has many entertainment venues including the Denver Performing Arts Complex which is the second-largest performing arts center in America. The Colorado Convention Center is used for all kinds of conventions ranging from beer to health care. There are several other theatres located in the city including the Garner Galleria Theatre and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The city is home to many well-known restaurants like The Buckhorn Exchange (one of the oldest restaurants in Denver), The Fort (a replica of Bent’s Old Fort), and Maria Empanada just to name a few.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is a national park located in the state of Colorado. The park is one of the most visited parks in the United States and is home to 464 species of birds, 47 mammals, 32 reptiles and amphibians, 10 fish, 7 invertebrates, 828 flowering plants, and over 2,000 species of fungi.
The park is divided into three main regions: the Fall River and Shadow Mountain (on the east side), which consist mainly of high peaks and alpine tundra; Kawuneeche Valley (in the west) and Two Rivers (at the south-eastern edge). The park is named after the rock formation called the Rocky Mountains.
The park started out as a forest reserve in 1895, becoming a national park of Colorado on January 26th, 1915. A new road was built through it in 1932, but this eventually became too small to handle the growing number of visitors and led to various improvements including improvement of trails and roads and the construction of a new visitor center.
Precipitation falling in the park is often not snow but rain. Snow typically stays on the ground only one to three days before melting, but this can vary greatly depending on average temperatures and cloud cover.
The park has over 300 miles (500 km) of trails, which include trails for hiking, cycling and horseback riding. The most popular point of interest in the park is the Old Fall River Road, on which visitors can drive themselves or take a bus tour. Visitors can also see elk bugling on this road between September and October during mating season when thousands of these animals migrate up to higher elevations.
Visitors can also hike up to two of the park’s peaks: Longs Peak, elevation 14,259 feet (4,343 m), and Mount Meeker. Both mountains are accessible via challenging trails and require a good level of physical fitness and preparation to climb. There is an additional fee for climbing these peaks.
The park also offers backpacking trails with three different levels of difficulty, ranging from easy to strenuous. Horses are allowed on most trails, while cyclists are only allowed on the main roads.
Recreational activities available include cycling, fishing, kayaking, and rafting in some lakes or rivers, hiking along the many trails there are to choose from and rock climbing on some of the rocks in the park. For many visitors, however, just sightseeing and taking photographs is enough to enjoy a trip to the park.
Telluride is a small ski resort town in Colorado, USA. Telluride is a very beautiful town located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It has a small population and is rich in history with various historical buildings still standing. Telluride remains isolated from most towns but has a bus and taxi service that brings people in, or tourists can drive. Visitors can go skiing in the winter or enjoy local cuisine during other seasons. This town is a must-see for lovers of nature and history.
- The population of the entire county (San Miguel) is less than 4,000.
- The town has a National Historic Landmark District, deemed worthy of preservation for its rich mining history and 19th-century architecture.
- Unlike most ski towns in the state, which are well connected to Denver via Interstate 70, Telluride is isolated, reached only by passing through a mountain range along narrow twisting roads.
- While there is no airport, Denver International Airport is about an hour’s drive away.
- There are no large chain hotels or stores, but some small businesses.
Aspen is a city in the United States of America. Aspen is located in the state of Colorado. The elevation of Aspen is 7744 feet (2351 m). Aspen is located in Pitkin County. The population of Aspen is 6,904. Aspen was officially founded in 1879. Sarah “Silver Queen” Steffens and her husband, the editor of a newspaper called The Rocky Mountain News, founded Aspen as a silver mining town.
Aspen is located near the Roaring Fork River. A popular Christmas show called “Ski Country Christmas” takes place every year at the Wheeler Opera House. The Wheeler Opera House is an Aspen landmark that was built in 1889. The temperature of Aspen (in degrees Fahrenheit) varies significantly throughout the year. On average, the highest temperature recorded in Aspen is 76°F (25°C). The lowest temperature recorded in Aspen is -13°F (-25°C).
Aspen is a popular vacation destination. The snow conditions are usually good because Aspen has lots of mountains near it, which could have snow at any time of the year. The city also attracts many celebrities, especially during the summer because there are not as many tourists then. Aspen is filled with hotels and restaurants that cater to this type of clientele. There are tour guides that offer helicopter rides over the mountains, which has become very popular among celebrities, especially during the winter due to Aspen’s famous ski resort, Snowmass.
Snowmass is an outdoor mountain vacation destination near Aspen. The resort was first opened in 1967 by Gerald Ford (former president of the U.S.) and a group of investors from Texas. The resort has been very successful over the years, and it is one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado, although it is not as well-known as Vail or Beaver Creek because Snowmass does not have any gondolas or high-speed detachable lifts. One problem Snowmass has faced in the past is a lack of natural snow. The resort had to be closed several times because not enough snow fell on the mountain to open for skiing. Snowmass now has technology that can cover the ski trails with real snow, no matter how little falls naturally.
More recently, Snowmass saw extensive work done during the summer of 2011 to improve the snow-making capabilities of the resort. The construction, which took place from June through August, involved building a new pump house to improve the quality of snow. The construction paths were set up in a way that did not interfere with ski trails or skier access. Despite some initial weather problems, Snowmass was able to open for the full 2012 skiing season on time.
Snowmass is one of three resorts operated by the Aspen Skiing Company (the other two are Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk). It was originally operated under a separate company called Aspen Highlands. The three resorts were taken over by Intrawest in 2000, which then sold to Aspen Skiing Company in 2008.
Vail is a town in Colorado, USA and it exists in the Rocky Mountains. It is very close to Denver and what made it famous was its skiing area named Vail Ski Resort. This resort has 5 peaks for skiing and around 65 ski runs which are good for all groups of people that like this sport. These mountain areas are usually full of snow and that is why the region became popular for this sport.
This ski resort has a little village inside where you can find good lodging, dining, and fun activities such as snowshoeing, ice skating snowmobiling, etc. Near the resort area, there are small towns with hotels too in case you want to spend a holiday in a smaller place.
Besides skiing, people can visit the nearby cities or go sightseeing to places like Glenwood Springs, Colorado and maybe do rafting on the Colorado River. The region has many things to offer so I think it’s worth visiting it for families who want to spend their holiday in a nice resort with lots of fun activities to do
Breckenridge is located in the Rocky Mountains, northwest of Denver. The town’s most notable for its ski resort which has an average of 300 days of sunshine and nearly 3,000 skiable acres. The town is located in Summit County, Colorado, United States. It’s a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders, as well as summertime hikers.
The town of Breckenridge was founded as an alpine mining camp in the gold rush days of the Colorado mountains. It began as a mining town but now is more focused on tourism with many shops and restaurants.
The town is one of the most popular ski resorts in America with nearly 50 feet of snowfall per year. The town’s historic central district sits at an elevation of 9,600 feet (2,923 m), which makes it a natural starting point for mountain trails and activities.
Summit County comprises the Breckenridge, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area.
In 2015, the town had a population of 5,846. The Central business district is located in Breckenridge along Main Street and lasts from Chestnut street to French street. Since the 1970s Breck has been rapidly changing from a small ski town into one of the premier ski resorts in the country.
The town has been managed by four different companies before being purchased by Vail, one of the largest ski resort companies in North America. Today Breckenridge is a popular tourist destination as well as a quick escape from Denver’s urban life.
7. Colorado Springs
In the late 1800s, Colorado Springs was discovered by Americans on a tourism trip to see hot springs in the area. As more and more people came to see the hot springs, a town was eventually formed and quickly grew. Now Colorado Springs is a large city in El Paso County, CO with over 4,000 people and is visited by over 5.5 million tourists every year. Colorado Springs has a lot of cultures and features many museums and other historical sites. It is also home to many top-ranked hospitals, sports teams, restaurants, and hotels. The economy of Colorado Springs revolves around tourism, military, health care, and the United States Air Force Academy.
The economy in Colorado Springs is great for anyone who thinks about opening a business or restaurant, and the city offers a great environment for entrepreneurs and people who want to get ahead in their careers.
Colorado Springs is home to the United States Air Force Academy, as well as several top-ranked hospitals, sports teams, and many different museums. In fact, Colorado Springs is home to the second-largest concentration of museums in the United States. A few of these museums include The Fine Arts Center, The Potts House Museum, and the Garden of the Gods.
Colorado Springs is also home to a great event called the Olympic Training Center Athletic Competition, where athletes from all over the country come to compete in Olympic sports such as archery and biathlon.
Colorado Springs is a great city for someone who wants to be involved in the community and enjoy all of the culture and history that Colorado Springs has to offer. The city has everything from museums and art galleries to sports teams and concerts.
Boulder is a city found in the state of Colorado, United States. Boulder has around 310,000 residents. It is home to the University of Colorado Boulder, the city’s primary employer. It was ranked by “Forbes” as one of America’s best places to live in 2007.
Boulder is one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world. It has more bicycles than cars, with about 80% of locals using bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. It’s very hilly, with many trails and even stairs that lead to the city streets, making it a very walkable and runner-friendly city. There is a high concentration of restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops downtown, along Pearl Street.
Boulder has many natural landmarks such as the Flatirons (a group of striking rock formations just west of Boulder), Boulder Canyon (popular with rock climbers), and Flagstaff Mountain (hiking trails and a great view of downtown).
Boulder is also very close to the Denver metropolitan area, making it easy for tourists to visit that city. It’s also home to the annual music festival known as “Boulder Creek Festival,” along with Pearl Street Mall and First Friday on Pearl Street, where there are street performers, events, and often free food.
There are many other great things to do in Boulder, which include visiting Chautauqua Park, where people hike and enjoy the scenery; Pearl Street, a four-block pedestrian mall with many shops and outdoor dining; and The Hill (an area of town known for its large concentration of fraternity and sorority houses).
In conclusion, Boulder is a great place to visit or live with many natural wonders, landmarks, and activities.
9. Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs is a city located in the state of Colorado, USA. It’s known as one of the best places to visit in America to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. The population is 24,846 according to the 2010 census. Steamboat Springs has a total area of 24.5 square miles with about 20% of the area covered in forest and grasslands.
Steamboat Springs has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb), which is characterized by large swings in temperature, both diurnals and seasonally; it lies in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4b, where the average annual minimum temperature is -10 to 5 °F (-23 to -15 °C). Steamboat Springs has over 300 days of sunshine per year. The highest temperature ever recorded in Steamboat was 105 °F (41 °C) on July 20, 1985, and the lowest was -22 °F (-30 °C) on February 1, 1979.
Located 65 miles southwest of Steamboat Springs is Pearl Pass, a historic crossing of the Continental Divide used by Native Americans and early settlers. The pass is now traversed by an unpaved road that can be hiked or followed on horseback.
During the summer months, it’s possible to take scenic drives on the Top of the World Highway west of Steamboat Springs or to hike on one of the area’s many trails including Buffalo Pass Trail, which follows an abandoned railroad grade along Ralston Creek through spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery.
Steamboat Springs holds many festivals throughout the year. Winter Carnival is held every winter in February. The Steamboat Symphony holds concerts annually. The Yampatika Powwow is held every September.
Steamboat Springs has many recreational opportunities, including more than 70 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and cross-country skiing; whitewater rafting on the Yampa River; fly-fishing for rainbow trout in the Yampa River, Hahns Peak, and Ralston Creek; golfing at one of the many nearby courses; and ice skating.
The Yampa River Botanic Park is a nice setting for a picnic and to stretch your legs. The park has an alpine trail system with easy trails like Custard’s Last Stand and more challenging trails like the West Ridge Trail and Ute Creek Canyon. It also has a large fruit orchard with apple, cherry, and peach trees as well as blue spruce.
Steamboat Springs is a great place to watch wildlife, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and moose.
Durango is a beautiful town located in Colorado, United States. Durango has wonderful views and spectacular natural attractions. The great outdoors is an amazing place to visit when you are in Durango. There are many things to do in this city: hiking, biking, climbing, and skiing. The climate in this town allows for any activity that comes with the heat, cold, rain, or wind.
Durango is very popular with tourists because there are many different things to do in the town such as hiking and biking through stunning views. There are also various outdoor activities that you can take part in like camping, fishing, kayaking, climbing, skiing, and much more! Many people visit this city so it can be very busy during the summer season. This town offers numerous festivals including the Summerfest, Festival of the Arts, Durango Fall Arts Festival, and more!
Durango is a very unique city that offers many different types of activities for everyone to have fun on their vacation. There are many things to do in this city so if you’re ever in this particular part of Colorado, be sure to check out Durango.
Best Things to do in Colorado 11 and beyond
11. Crested Butte
Crested Butte, Colorado is a small isolated town in the Rocky Mountains. The community has over 8828 inhabitants and it is situated in Gunnison County, CO. About 400km west of Denver, it takes about 2 hours 40 minutes to get from Denver International Airport (DIA) to Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC), which is located in Gunnison, CO.
Outdoors enthusiasts will love Crested Butte for its proximity to wildlife reserves and vast expanses of the protected areas. There are over 350 different species of birds that come to Crested Butte every year to nest and raise their young.
Crested Butte is known as one of Colorado’s most desirable locations for recreation, but it also has a vibrant cultural scene. The community has an art museum, two local newspapers, and many restaurants to choose from. If you are looking for some action at night, be sure to check out any of the local bars and dance clubs.
Crested Butte is also home to an annual festival called Crested Butte Wildflower Festival which allows visitors to explore the community’s natural beauty during the summer months. There are various opportunities for hiking, biking, climbing, camping, fishing, and sightseeing throughout the duration of the event.
About 24km away is Gunnison, where you can go tubing or kayaking down the Black Canyon River. Visitors to Crested Butte enjoy spending time at Blue Lake National Fish Hatchery which features fishing and other family activities year-round.
The Colorado Mountain College offers a variety of classes for both residents and visitors alike. For those interested in skiing and snowboarding, Crested Butte is home to one of the best ski resorts in North America, Mt. Crested Butte. The resort features over 60 runs with 10 different bowls to choose from. It also has a large terrain park complete with several half-pipes for the more experienced skiers and riders.
Best time to visit: July – September, since this is when the weather is warmest and the flowers are at their peak in Crested Butte.
12. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a national park of the United States located in the state of Colorado. It features North America’s tallest sand dunes and is home to many endangered species, such as the San Bernardo Pony.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve was established on September 13, 2004, by President George W. Bush’s proclamation of the park’s establishment under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906 which grants the president power to establish national monuments on federally owned land. The park consists of over 132,000 acres of land within the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. It is situated between Chama, New Mexico east to Montrose, Colorado which is east of Alamosa and west of Cortez along US-160.
The tallest dunes in North America are in Great Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes are constantly shifting with the winds, but on average they move eastward about a foot every year. This gives visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park an ever-changing landscape of beautiful white sand dunes that you need to see to believe!
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is also home to the San Bernardo Pony. The San Bernardo ponies are descendants of Spanish horses left in this area by early explorers and settlers, who may have used them for meat at first before letting them run free. The population peaked at around 1000 animals but now is less than 100.
This national park serves as a home to over 800 different types of plants and animals, many of them endangered. Great Sand Dunes National Park is famous for rare plants like Sanborn’s White Edge which can be seen at the Big Spring area in Medano creek.
The park offers over 60 different activities like camping, hiking, swimming, or enjoying some of North America’s tallest sand dunes. Visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park can also participate in activities like bird watching, bicycling, picnicking, horseback riding, and much more.
You can visit the visitor center for more information on weather conditions or trail closures before you head out to the park. The national park is open year-round.
13. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is located in Canon City, Colorado. It was built in 1929 by the Kansas City Bridge Company and was declared a National Historic Landmark in November 1979. The park is located just off of Highway 50 and is home to the Royal Gorge Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in America. The canyon also boasts the highest suspension bridge in the entire world which stands at 956 feet tall!
The park itself has many fun rides for all ages including the Skycoaster, which is the world’s highest swing ride. It also has the Royal Rush Skycoaster, which is a super-fast two-person swing that reaches speeds of up to 50 miles per hour!
It also features many other attractions such as mini-golf, paddle boats, an arcade, and more. The park has events all year long, such as the fall festival, 4th of July celebrations, and many more.
- The Skycoasters are $6 per ride or $10 for two rides! They also have combo tickets that include other attractions in the park for a discounted price.
- There is an all day pass for $20 that includes all rides and attractions except the Skycoasters. There is also a combo ticket option to get both the Skycoasters and unlimited rides for $25.
- The park hours are 10AM-6PM every day of the week during peak times, but guests can spend as long or short of a time as they would like. Peak times are weekends, holidays, and vacation weeks.
- Be sure to check their website for current pricing as it is subject to change often!
14. Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction is a city in Colorado. It is known to be one of the gateways into the famous Rocky Mountains National Park, which brings in many people that want to enjoy nature and trails.
Grand Junction has experienced an increase in tourism, because of its abundance of activities for any kind of person. There are countless sites and trails throughout the city, the mountains, and nearby counties. The famous Colorado National Monument is a must-visit place, not far from Grand Junction at all. There are many historic sites throughout the Monument, with rock formations that have been carved over thousands of years by wind and water.
One more reason why people keep coming back to Grand Junction is because of its brewery. There are more than 20 breweries in the surrounding areas, which is a great number compared to other cities in Colorado. Some notable names include Redlands Mesa and 1881.
Another unique point about Grand Junction is that it may be one of the largest cities in America without a mountain range by its side. This leaves an unobstructed view of the sun for more than a quarter of its year, this phenomenon is known as a “high desert” in Colorado.
The cost of living in Grand Junction is much lower compared to other cities in the US, meaning that many retirees have made it their home. It has become an unofficial retirement city. The nice weather and low taxes add to its appeal.
The education system in Grand Junction is run by the School District of Grand Junction and serves nearly 17,000 students. It is also supported by many private schools and higher learning academies such as the University of Colorado at Western Colorado, which has been providing high-quality education since 1933.
Grand Junction was named after its location. The term “Grand” is French for Large, and the word “Junction” describes its geographical location as a place where many things come together. Hence, Grand Junction.
Grand Junction has been named as one of the top ten mountain biking cities in the US, by Forbes magazine! It comes as no surprise to those who live there already. There are endless amounts of trails for people to enjoy, and the fact that it is home to many breweries implies that riders will never be short of water or a place to rest.
Grand Junction has also been voted as one of the top ten cities in the US for an artsy time, by TripAdvisor!
15. Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument comprises two separate areas that are separated by the Green River. The Quarry Visitor Center is located near Jensen, UT, while the Jensen Visitor Center is located near Dinosaur, CO.
Many people don’t realize that you can actually enter Dinosaur National Monument from Colorado if you are traveling on US-40 between Grand Junction and Vernal, UT. It’s a long way around with many boring miles of nothing but the straight road through the desert, but it is possible.
The Quarry Visitor Center features several wonderful displays that show the rich history of paleontology in the Dinosaur National Monument, including a large skeleton of an Allosaurus and replicas of complete Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) and Diplodocus carnegii skeletons. Some people recognize these as being inaccurate, but this is just because science doesn’t believe that Apatosaurus had a shorter tail, which is what makes the Diplodocus skeleton appear unusual. These replicas were based on all of the material found at different locations within Dinosaur National Monument, and it is likely that these dinosaurs would have been quite similar in appearance.
At Jensen Visitor Center, there are a large gift shop and bookstore, restrooms, picnic area, and a small performing theater with ranger programs. The Dinosaur Discovery Exhibit includes three Apatosaurus skeletons (including two juveniles) which were excavated along the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument in 2000 by a crew from the Museum of Western Colorado led by paleontologist David Gillette.
16. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a United States National Park located in western Colorado and managed by the National Park Service. Created by Congress in 1999, the park contains 72,430 acres of Federal land. The canyon itself has formed roughly 2 to 3 million years ago during the uplift of the Uncompahgre Plateau and the Gunnison River and its tributaries. For most of the year, the Black Canyon is invisible from the United States Route 50 (US-50) and surrounding areas; however, during late spring runoff, the canyon becomes visible from the rim.
The park contains both black and whitewater rapids on the Gunnison River. The name of the canyon, “Black”, comes from the extremely steep walls of its most distinguishing feature, The Black Wall. At a point, the Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon and 16 feet for every mile between rim and river at one spot downstream.
The Black Canyon is so-named because its steepness makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths. As a result, the canyon walls are almost always in shadow, causing the rocky sides to appear black. At its narrowest point, the canyon is only 40 ft wide at the river. The extreme steepness and depth of the Black Canyon formed as the result of several geologic processes acting together. The major geologic events that led to the formation of the Black Canyon started with a period of volcanic activity that lasted from roughly 17 to 14 million years ago. This period created a large mountainous region that experienced erosion due to a vertical uplift in the area, creating deep valleys and gorges filled with sediment.
17. Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is located in the southwestern area of Colorado, United States. It is a 5-hour drive from Denver and it takes an hour to reach the park from Cortez, CO. Because of its location on the Utah border, some people do not know that it is located in Colorado. The park was established as a national monument in 1906 (by President Theodore Roosevelt), and finally acquired National Park status by an act of Congress on June 29, 1962.
The park protects the stunning cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people. During the 12th century, they were a major cultural group spanning from the San Juan River in the north to areas near Tucson, Arizona, in the south. Their culture can be defined as a “complex network of cooperating and competing groups”, which included other contemporary structures that provided stability through time. These ancient people left behind abundant ruins, including 600 masonry structures considered unique to this area.
Mesa Verde offers guided tours of Cliff Palace where you’ll learn about the Ancestral Puebloan’s way of life and how they lived in this challenging environment. Many books have been written about the dwellings found here, but there is nothing like seeing the real thing.
Visitors have to take a shuttle from the Chapin Mesa Museum in the park if they want to see these dwellings. Public transportation is not available within the park so visitors must be prepared for their day trip. The shuttles run every 15-30 minutes, depending on which route you are taking, and it costs $15 round trip for an adult.
It’s important to remember that Mesa Verde closes at 5 p.m. so be sure to save time for a good look around the park before you call it a day! If you don’t have your own car, there are tour buses available from Chama, NM and Durango, CO that can take you there.
18. The Maroon Bells
The Maroon Bells, located in the Elk Mountains and often called the most photographed peaks in North America, is a United States National Landmark.
The mountains are composed of sedimentary rocks laid down during the Precambrian to Jurassic periods. A thrust fault on the west side of the Maroon Bells is thought to have “uplifted” these sedimentary rocks of the surrounding landscape early in geologic time. The east side of the Maroon Bells was pushed up later, during the Laramide orogeny.
The soils are well-drained glacial till on top of shale, interspersed with deposits of morainic debris left by retreating glaciers. Evidence of three past glaciations is present on the mountain slopes.
The mountains were originally named “The Deadly Bells” by locals after several fatalities in the late 1800s. As of today, there have been 20 known deaths on these peaks which brings over 100 years of fatalities in total. Some of the well-known deaths include a large group of Boy Scouts in 1981, backcountry skiers who lost their lives to an avalanche in 1982, 14 people who died when their Beechcraft airplane crashed into the mountainside in January 1991, an avalanche that took place during the summer of 1993 killing five hikers, and most recently a father and son who fell on the ice-covered slopes in October 2006.
Out of the list of the Best Things To Do in Colorado, you can pick and choose which ones you want to cover depending on your preferences and how much time you have available on hand. We’d recommend doing all of them!
Colorado has plenty to offer to all travelers and tourists. If you haven’t visited this beautiful state in the United States already, we highly recommend you do so.
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