Colorful Colorado serves up its bounty every day with natural beauty ever-present. Its majestic mountains beckon with the call of birds and scurrying wildlife, not to mention the many days of sunshine. There are so many options when it comes to enjoying the state. And having fun is not just about skiing, hiking and other outdoor adventures. If you are ready for a vacation and feel bombarded by the options or just aren’t sure where to go next, you may find these suggestions helpful.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
The majestic sand dunes are a treasure to behold, an unexpected find among the mountains. The dunes were formed from the remnants of now dried up lakes in the San Luis Valley. The sediment was blown into a bend in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, pushed by opposing storm winds and squeezed into the tall dunes you can see there today. It is a complicated geological process that results in a beautiful sight to behold for the whole family. It is definitely a must-see. You can walk around, backpack, picnic or camp at the Piñon Flats Campground. Just west of the dunes are historical sites, including the Trujillo Homsteads National Historic Landmark, and Medano and Zapata Ranches. Grab something to eat at the Oasis Restaurant and store. The dunes are open every day 24/7. Stop by the Visitor’s Center at 11999 State Highway 150 in Mosca, CO. For more information, including fees, visit www.nps.gov/grsa.
There is more than meets the eye in Glenwood Springs. The beautiful surrounding here will definitely encourage you to walk, hike, bike and explore, or maybe go fishing in the Colorado River. You can also hit the slopes at Sunlight Mountain Resort, which has 75% beginner and intermediate slopes. Relax at the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves, or soak in the popular Iron Mountain Hot Springs.With an elevation of 7,160 feet above sea level, this historic mountain town sure is a great place to take in nature, but there is so much more to do. Have a blast at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Ride a thrill ride, enjoy 4D theater and other activities, or take a 40 minute tour of the underground caverns. Or go up high and get an aerial view by tandem skydiving or paragliding. Sit back and laugh at the Glenwood Vaudeville Review, a dinner comedy show. For more information, visit www.visitglenwood.com.
If you can’t wait for ski season, you will enjoy Steamboat Springs. There are so many wintertime activities to enjoy. Hit the slopes to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or go tubing. Lace up your skates and go ice skating at the Howelsen Ice Complex. If you prefer to be less active, you can still enjoy the wintery white stuff by taking a snow buggy tour or a sleigh ride, hopping on a snowmobile or going horseback riding. Get a sense of who the pioneers were that turned this mountain town into a tourist destination by visiting the Tread of Pioneers Museum. Learn marksmanship at Three Quarter Circles Sporting Clays. See an overview on a gondola ride, or ride the mountain coaster for a thrilling time. There also is ziplining. Hike on on the Yampa River Core Trail; then, relax at the Life Essentials Day Spa or the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. For more information, visit www.steamboat.com.
Charming and historic, Durango is rooted in the wild west. Explore the city. There is plenty to do in the vicinity. Pan for gold nearby at The Old Hundred Gold Mine. Hop on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for a scenic view. Visit the cliff dwellings and archaeological sites of Mesa Verde, an explorer’s dream, once home of the ancestral Pueblo people who lived there from 600 to 1300 A.D. Feeling adventurous? Outback Adventure can help you ride the rapids, take a jeep tour, charter a boat, water ski, zipline and more. So many outdoor activities await. Kids can get in the fun with off-road go-karts. They can learn and create at The Powerhouse, an interactive Science Center and MakerLab for all ages. Hike through the San Juan National Forest. Breathe deep at the botanic gardens or soothe your cares away at the local hot springs. For more information, visit www.durango.org.
Enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors at Grand Lake. Here, you can go fishing, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, horsebackriding, white water rafting, kayaking and much more. Hit the links and play a game of golf or go out on the court and hit a few tennis balls while enjoying the sunshine. Kids will have fun going go-karting at Rocky Hi Speedway or getting in a bumper car. Parents might enjoy learning about the mighty mushroom while on the Mystic Mountain Mushroom Walking Tour. When the weather is especially nice, it is a great time to have a picnic in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. There is so much to do while taking in nature. Maybe you are ready for a break indoors. You can watch a play at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater. Next, lay back and relax and get a healing massage or a relaxing facial at Mountain Soul Wellness. For more information, visit www.grandlakecolorado.com.