Mindblowingly Beautiful Places in Colorado

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by foxintheforest

Wanna get in on the most beautiful places in Colorado? You’ve come to the right place.

This mega-list of the best views in Colorado features everything from picture-perfect alpine lakes to unbelievable sandstone monoliths.

Of course, the Rocky Mountains are a major attraction for killer scenery, but Colorado has some surprising views.

As a local of over 12 years, I know where to find all of the most beautiful places in Colorado.

And I’ll one-up every other article about these Colorado views and show you a few of my own secret spots that no one knows about.

It’s my mission to get you out on your Colorado adventure like a local, not a tourist.

I’ve lived in Colorado for over 12 years and this makes me an absolute expert at finding the most scenic views in Colorado.

You’re in good hands! I’ve been to all of these epic places.

This guide to the prettiest places in Colorado features plenty of must-see spots in Colorado while also giving you insider tips about how to visit like a local.

So go ahead and check out the best Colorado views throughout the state.

About this Guide to the Most Beautiful Places in Colorado

Discover the most beautiful places in Colorado. Inside, you’ll find juicy details about where to go for the best views in Colorado, expert tips for each location, and highlights as to what makes each location great. You’ll also find:

  • Where to find the best views in Colorado
  • Best views in Denver
  • A list of the best mountain views in Colorado
  • Places to see the fall foliage in Colorado
  • Surprising scenic spots in Colorado
  • Additional Colorado travel resources

Map of the Most Beautiful Places in Colorado

If you want to plan the perfect trip to Colorado, then use the map below to visit all of the most beautiful places in Colorado. You can also get the full interactive map here.

Where to Find the Best Views in Colorado

Your knee-jerk reaction to finding the best views in Colorado may be to start with a Colorado bucket list.

Sure, that’s loaded with goodies, but to really get out into nature, you’ll want to go beyond the “best of” lists.

Pro Tip: If you want to beat the crowds, start early. Balance your time between popular hot spots and just-as-good-if-not-better nearby spots.

You’ll find epic beauty across the state of Colorado (yes, even in the plains).

It would take a long time to see them all, but that’s the beauty of this incredible state.

The Mega-List of the Most Beautiful Places in Colorado

Let’s dive in with this list of amazing Colorado views. We’ll work our way through the most scenic spots in the Centennial State and what it takes to get there.

Best Views in Denver (and Around)

You’ll find some incredible Colorado views right inside downtown. Sure, the city proper may be a ways away from the mountains, but there is still plenty of scenery in and around Denver.

Boulder Flatirons

Along the Front Range, you’ll find one of Colorado’s most famous landmarks – the Boulder Flatirons. Home to some of the most scenic Boulder hikes, you can hike, climb, or scramble these incredible rock ridges.

Not to mention, the view in between the First and Second Flatiron is pretty sweet.

Local Tip: Check out nearby Eldorado Canyon for even more scenic views. From hikes to some of the most stunning rock climbing areas in Colorado, there’s something for everyone.

The Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks also charges a seasonal fee to park at the Chautauqua Trailhead. However, seasonal shuttles are available so check out their website for more info.

The hike to Boulder flatirons is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado.
The view from the Flatirons is utterly beautiful. Go for sunrise to have it all to yourself.

City Park in Denver

For that iconic Denver view – you know – the one with the skyline and the snow-capped mountains – head to City Park. This free park features the best view in Denver, especially for sunset. Find a hillside to get a bit above the nearby area for a classic look at downtown.

Mount Evans Scenic Drive (Now Mt Blue Sky)

There are a variety of scenic drives near Denver, but Mount Blue Sky has to be one of the best. This snaking ribbon of tarmac winds its way to the top of Mount Blue Sky, one of the easiest 14ers in Colorado.

From here, it’s a quick 15-minute walk to the summit, or you can soak in all the views from the drive and parking lot.

Local Tip: Reservations are required if you want to use a vehicle to enter Mount Blue Sky Recreation Area and Scenic Drive. Click here to grab your ticket.

Price: $10 or free with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass.

One of the best views in Colorado is from the Mount Evans scenic drive.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Likely one of the most beautiful amphitheaters in the world, you can’t miss this Denver attraction. As one of the only naturally occurring amphitheaters in the world, you can come to visit Red Rocks and experience the beauty of this phenomenon.

The best part? It’s only 20 minutes from downtown.

Local Tip: It gets crowded here. Arrive early in the morning and hike the surrounding trails or even scope out the theatre for free.

Roxborough State Park

Just 40-minutes south of downtown, you’ll find one of the best views in Denver at one of the best state parks in Colorado. Similar to the flatirons, except fancying more of a red rock vibe, Roxborough State Park has hiking and mountain biking trails that bring you to the heart of these stunning formations.

It’s a $10 fee to get in, and dogs aren’t allowed, but it’s still well worth a visit – especially for sunrise! You’ll find some of the best hikes near Denver inside the park.

Local Tip: This place fills up fast on weekends. Skip the line and show up before 7 am to snag a parking spot.

A beautiful view of Roxborough State Park.

The Highlands Neighborhood

For hip eats and amazing views, the Highlands neighborhood must be on your Denver itinerary.

Check out a sunset from the rooftop bar of Linger or go for a walk around nearby Sloan’s Lake. You’ll get excellent city views with plenty of neighborhood charm.

The Best Mountain Views in Colorado

It’s no secret that the most beautiful places in Colorado happen to be in the mountains. You’ll find absolutely epic mountain scenery here.

A few of these spots are well-known for a reason, but I sprinkled in a couple of secret spots in Colorado that you should for sure check out.

The Wenimuche Wilderness in the San Juan National Forest

Arguably one of the most beautiful places in Colorado for the quintessential mountain scene, the Wenimuche Wilderness is a must-see. In summer, a picture-perfect scene straight out of The Sound of Music delights you with lush mountain valleys littered with wildflowers, towering snow-streaked dramatic mountain peaks.

The easiest way to enjoy the scenery is to drive one of the many 4×4 roads. Be sure to check out the Alpine Loop, Yankee Boy Basin, and Ophir Pass.

Avid hikers will want to explore on foot. With countless hikes featuring gem-colored lakes like the Blue Lakes trail or some of the easiest 14ers in Colorado like Handies Peak are bucket list adventures.

prettiest places in Colorado

Independence Pass

Often referred to as one of the most scenic drives in Colorado, Independence Pass is a seasonal road connecting Twin Lakes to Aspen.

Open from May through October, this scenic byway is a must-drive. The pass tops out at a whopping 12,095 feet above sea level. You’ll get those drool-worthy mountain views without having to leave your vehicle.

Psst: Local secret here – but you can find some of the best free camping in Colorado in this area. You can also find out about the latest road closure information here.

Million Dollar Highway

If you’re looking for a stunning weekend getaway from Denver, then drive down to the San Juans and explore the Million Dollar Highway.

There is no road more perfect than this. Red-capped peaks with verdant green mountain valleys surround you as you wind your way through arguably the most beautiful road in the world.

Known to be home to some of the best mountain views in Colorado, you can’t miss this amazing highway.

Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton are all nearby, giving you ample options for recreation in places like Yankee Boy Basin.

San Juan Scenic Byway

Continue along the Million Dollar Highway past Silverton and into Durango for even more drool-worthy mountain views. This stretch of highway is often confused with the Million Dollar Highway, but it’s a bit longer. Just continue past Molas Lake and ride the highway all the way to Durango – a beautiful town in its own right.

Local Tip: Take the Million Dollar Highway to the San Juan Scenic Byway, then check out the views along the Silverton to Durango scenic railway for a totally different perspective.

Animas Mountain

As one of the most scenic hikes in Durango, Animas Mountain is certainly a worthy contender on the list of the prettiest places in Colorado.

This 6-mile moderate loop hike climbs to the top of Animas Mountain. On your way to the summit, you’ll be treated to unbelievable views of the Western Slope.

What makes this hike so excellent is it crosses through a variety of terrain and gives you spanning views of red rock ridgelines and lush mountain landscapes.

Local Tip: This area is subject to closures for habitat protection. This is usually from Dec 1st through April 15th but check this website for more info.

4th of July Trailhead

Another local favorite – the 4th of July Trailhead is one of the best mountain views for Colorado wildflowers.

Late June into July, this uphill-trending trail delivers on big mountain views and plenty of pretty Colorado wildflowers.

The well-marked route splits at many points. You can opt to choose your own adventure or follow signs to Arapaho Pass.

At the top of the pass, the views are top-notch in every direction. Overall, it’s a moderate mountain hike. Bonus points: it’s dog-friendly too.

Pro Tip: The road to the trailhead is bumpy and requires at least a little clearance (sedans will struggle). It isn’t maintained in the winter so check local conditions before you go.

prettiest places in colorado

Mayflower Gulch near Copper Mountain

If you’re looking to make the most of your winter adventure to Colorado, then gear up and hit the short (2.8-mile-round-trip) easy hike to Mayflower Gulch.

This is one of the most beautiful winter hikes in Colorado and it’s super simple – even for a novice hiker. Little effort and big rewards make Mayflower Gulch a popular scenic spot in Colorado for locals and for anyone looking for the best things to do in Leadville, CO.

Local Tip: You can drive to the cabin ruins, but you will need a 4×4 SUV, a Truck or ATV after that. There is also not a ton of parking at the upper trailhead parking lot.

The Rim Trail near Snowmass

If you’re looking for wildflower blooms, mountain views and aspen groves you’ll get all of that and more on the 7.1-mile out-and-back Rim Trail near Snowmass Mountain.

The views are simply delicious year-round on this classic Aspen hike. In winter, you’ll get gorgeous views of snow-capped peaks. Spring delivers a stark contrast between the snowscapes of Snowmass and the signs of spring. Summer provides ample wildflower viewing while fall is glittering with Aspen leaves.

Lone Eagle Peak

You can’t mention the best mountain views in Colorado and not mention Lone Eagle Peak. Many people refer to this dramatic mountain as the prettiest mountain in Colorado.

It’s a 14-mile out-and-back hike to get there, but don’t let the distance fool you. Most of the trail is pretty mellow. If you’ve got the stamina, the average hiker can certainly get here in a day.

Or, if you’re lucky, you can nab one of 12 daily permits to backpack to Lone Eagle. The choice is yours.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass. Fee depends on how many days you plan to visit.

A view of Lone Eagle Peak in Colorado.

Loveland Pass Hiking

Most people don’t think much about Loveland Pass, but that would be a mistake. This gateway to Denver’s best ski resorts also houses some pretty amazing Colorado scenery.

There are actually quite a few incredible viewpoints from here. The pass alone has a parking area – so you can enjoy amazing views if you’re not up for a hike.

However, the intrepid hiker should pack a picnic and head up to Mount Sniktau for sunset. As one of the most scenic 13ers near Denver, you’ll get sweeping views of the Continental Divide.

Not up for a summit? No problem! Hike just 15 minutes west of the parking area at Loveland Pass (aim for just beyond the ridge you can see from the parking lot).

Just on the other side of the ridge are views all the way from the foothills to Mount of the Holy Cross.

Local Tip: It’s almost always windy here – so bring a windbreaker and pack layers!

Jones Pass

Home to some of the best free camping near Denver, almost every local knows about the beauty of Jones Pass.

For a relaxing weekend of boondock camping, you can drive your vehicle (SUV or truck recommended) to Jones Pass.

Opt to camp at one of the many dispersed campsites (don’t forget to practice Leave No Trace) and drive to the top of the pass for sunset.

I’ll come here often with some takeout and a blanket just to watch the sunset. It’s only 40-minutes from Denver and is a must-see spot!

Local Tip: If you want to hike in the area just know that the road is subject to seasonal closures due to weather. Click here for the most up to date info.

best places in Colorado

Colorado Via Ferratas

For an adrenaline-pumping way to experience some of the prettiest places in Colorado, opt for a via Ferrata. Translated as “the iron way” these man-made courses traverse across stunning mountains, in and out of canyons, and across spanning vistas.

Colorado via Ferratas are located all over the state. A few worth checking out include:

  • The Royal Gorge (fee and guide required)
  • Telluride via Ferrata (free, guided trips and self-supported adventures allowed)
  • Arapaho Basin (fee, guided only)
  • Ouray via Ferrata (free, guided and unguided trips allowed)

Silverton to Durango Scenic Railway

Another amazing Colorado road trip spot – take a spin on the Silverton to Durango Scenic Railway.

Wind your way away from the roads and straight into the heart of the San Juan Mountains on this narrow-gauge train. Stay a few nights in either spot or choose a round-trip tour.

You’ll get to see some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Colorado all while riding a historic steam engine train.

The San Juan Mountains

Located in the southwestern corner of Colorado, the San Juan Mountains are a rugged mountain range within the Rockies that are known for their vast mineral deposits.

Therefore, this region is home to historic remnants from gold and silver mines that are just waiting to be explored.

Additionally, some of the coolest towns within the range include:

  • Durango
  • Pagosa Springs
  • Ouray
  • Telluride
  • Silverton
  • And more!

And the best way to explore all these amazing places is by using the San Juan Skyway. Not only is the scenery gorgeous but you can easily visit all of the places mentioned above.

Salida

Salida is easily one of the coolest mountain towns in Colorado – a place that is high-end but filled with fun and funky things to do.

So, be sure to enjoy hiking, biking, and various water-related adventures since you’re right near the gorgeous Sawatch Range and can easily use the Arkansas River.

Plus, at just 2.5 hours away from Denver, it’s a great place for a weekend getaway. Therefore, grab a drink at Benson’s Tavern and Beer Garden before digging into a breakfast feast at The Biker and the Baker.

You can also spend the night at the Silver Ridge Lodge since it has a patio with stellar mountain views.

Leadville

Known for being the highest incorporated city in the country, Leadville sits at an elevation of 10,152 feet and is well-located two hours from Denver.

It’s also well-situated near Mount Massive and Mount Elbert, making this city an easy home base from which to tackle two of the best 14ers in Colorado.

Other fun things to do in Leadville include visiting Camp Hale, hitting local mountain bike trails, and grabbing some contemporary American fare at Treeline Kitchen.

You can even enjoy a bit of free camping at Half Moon Road, Twin Lakes, and Turquoise Lake if you love being in the great outdoors.

What is the Prettiest Mountain Town in Colorado?

When it comes to the prettiest places in Colorado, mountain towns are certainly a popular option. When it comes to the best mountain towns in Colorado, it’s really up to personal preference. However, as a long-time Colorado local, I’d cast my vote for Crested Butte or Telluride as the prettiest mountain town in Colorado.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the others! Each Colorado mountain town has its own charm, personality, and appeal. Here’s a look at the prettiest mountain towns in Colorado.

Breckenridge

For one of the best day trips from Denver, head up I-70 to Breckenridge. This mountain town features amazing mountain views and has a giant reservoir to explore.

Road bike around the reservoir or explore the amazing array of alpine lakes, waterfalls, and more on one of the hikes in Breckenridge.

Local Tip: Silverthorn, Frisco, and Dillon are all nearby towns with just as much mountain charm.

Silverton

There’s something about the dirt-lined streets of this no-frills mining town that keeps drawing you in. Silverton, located along the Million Dollar Highway, just 30 minutes from nearby Ouray, gives you a real, authentic Colorado mountain town feel.

Many of the buildings are original and historic – dating back to the original mining days that brought settlers to the area.

What people really love about Silverton is the easy access to several recreation opportunities including hikes, scenic drives, OHV experiences, and the railroad.

Telluride and Bridal Veil Falls

As one of my favorite Colorado road trip stops, Telluride literally embodies everything you love about a Colorado mountain town.

A historical Main Street showcases amazing shops and eateries that have an undeniable charm. Plus, Main Street is an amazing place where you can find accommodations surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain views.

So, whether you’re here to enjoy a famous festival or do a bit of skiing, the beauty of Main Street is inescapable. Take time to indulge in a cup of coffee, grab a decadent meal, or watch a movie.

Plus, just a 10-minute drive from downtown you’ll find some of Telluride’s best hikes, including Bridal Veil Falls. This is one of the top waterfalls in Colorado and with good reason. The cascading falls are a whopping 365-feet tall – a rare sight in Colorado.

Oh, and dipping your toes in the cool water is refreshing as can be on a hot day. Make the easy hike from the parking lot at the end of town

Other awesome activities include 4-wheel driving, summing some of Colorado’s most beautiful 14ers, or hitting up one of the many annual festivals in Telluride.

Local Tip: Dying to visit one of the most beautiful places in Colorado? Well, you’re in luck because Telluride’s airport is the highest-elevation airport with commercial flights in the country.

best places in colorado

Crested Butte

Nestled at the base of Crested Butte this tiny mountain town has endless charm. In the winter, it’s a skier’s paradise – often compared to places like Jackson Hole. In summer, it becomes a mountain biking mecca, with hundreds of MTB enthusiasts flocking to an array of trails catering to all abilities.

Fall is a super awesome time to enjoy Crested Butte. With huge aspen groves, the hillsides glitter with golds, reds, and yellows.

Be sure to book some time to do a little shopping in town and don’t forget to grab a pizza at the famous Secret Stash.

Vail

This posh mountain town is about a 2-hour drive from Denver and sits high in the Rocky Mountains.

And while the area is best known for its skiing, there are plenty of things to do in Vail in the summer, like backpack to Gore Lake or try one of the many scenic Vail hikes in the area.

You can also grab some contemporary mountain fare at the Slope Room at Gravity Haus before relaxing with a drink in hand at Root and Flower.

Boulder

best hikes near Boulder, Colorado

Easily one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, Boulder is a gorgeous town that sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado.

It’s a quirky little place filled with college students and people love to visit since it is a 45-minute drive from Denver.

However, what Boulder is really known for are the Flatirons, or craggy rock formations that sit along the outside of the city.

In fact, rock climbers from around the world come to the First and Third Faltirons to try out some epic climbing routes.

Otherwise, visitors can head downtown to check out the wealth of breweries, restaurants, and cafes that make up the pedestrianized, Pearl Street Mall.

Nederland

Located near Barker Meadow Reservoir, Nederland is a great place from which to explore the Indian Peaks Wilderness and check out some of the best hikes in Nederland.

If you can, time your visit for the fall (especially late September/early October) so that you can see all of the Aspens take on a vibrant yellow color.

Just don’t leave without taking in the sweeping views from the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway.

And if you visit in winter, be sure to do a bit of skiing at the nearby Eldora Mountain Resort.

Steamboat Springs

Easily one of the best weekend getaways in Colorado, Steamboat Springs is an amazing winter destination that features aspen glades for skiing and tons of live music that will have you partying all night long.

You can also enjoy a much needed soak at one of the best hot springs in Colorado at Strawberry Park Hot Springs before doing a picturesque fall drive along Buffalo Pass and exploring the many incredible Steamboat Springs hiking trails.

Grand Lake

Located right near the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake is a beautiful place and a cool home base near RMNP.

Yes, it will take you a little bit longer to reach the Bear Lake Corridor than it would from Estes Park, but this tiny town has a much more peaceful feel to it.

So, you may want to base yourself out of Grand Lake if you’re looking for a more relaxed stay near Rocky Mountain National Park.

Plus, the lake is just stunning and home to some lovely beaches/marinas where you can swim, kayak, and paddleboard.

Local Tip: If you base yourself in Grand Lake then just know that it could take you around 3 hours to drive to the trailhead of some of RMNP’s most popular hikes.

Pagosa Springs

This beautiful town in the southwestern part of the state is surrounded by the stunning, San Juan Mountains and is known for its amazing hot springs.

In fact, there are three resorts in the area with their own hot spring and all are fed by the Mother Spring Aquifer. It sits 1,002 feet beneath the surface and is the deepest geothermal spring in the world.

So, after hiking through the nearby San Juans, relax in a hot spring, fish for some trout in the San Juan River, and see the ruins of ancient Puebloan houses at the Chimney Rock National Monument.

However, if you visit one of the most beautiful places in Colorado in the winter, you can always try a bit of cross-country and downhill skiing at Wolf Creek Ski Area while you’re in the area.

Incredible Colorado Lakes

If there’s one thing the Centennial State is known for its gorgeous mountain lakes. Colorado lakes are a bit of a tradition in Colorado. From Colorado’s alpine lake hikes to fishing and stand-up paddleboarding, there are plenty of ways to make a splash.

Gore Lake near Vail

Another locally-held secret, Gore Lake outside of Vail delivers as one of the most scenic places in Colorado.

The 12-mile out-and-back hike is a real butt buster – and best done as an overnight. Gore Lake easily makes the list as one of the most beautiful backpacking routes in Colorado.

Can this Vail hike be done in a day? Sure, but watching the sunset over Red Mountain is a real treat.

Local Tip: Hike left around the lake (if it’s snow-free) and up the steep hillside until you reach a scenic perch for a bird’s eye view! The Eagles Nest Wilderness also requires a permit for overnight camping.

A weary hiker relaxing near Gore Lake.

Alta Lakes

For some of the best free camping in Colorado, check out Alta Lakes. One of the few lakes in Colorado where you are allowed to camp near the water, this is one of the best places in Colorado to pitch a tent.

In the San Juan Mountains, take Co 45 toward Lizard Head Pass, then turn just a mile or so before the Ophir Pass turnout. High clearance vehicles are recommended.

Local Tip: There’s a lot of camping here, so don’t expect solitude. If you’re camping over the weekend, arrive as early as possible on Friday to snag a spot.

Lake Granby

Home to plenty of family-friendly recreation, Lake Granby is one of the best weekend getaways in Colorado for families. With activities like horseback trail rides, boating, fishing, and even swimming there’s a lot of reasons to spend the weekend at Lake Granby.

With plenty of cute cabins and a town nearby, you’ll have all the amenities to accompany the gorgeous mountain views.

Local Tip: From here it’s easy to access the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, a much less crowded side of the park.

Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs

Arguably the best hike in Colorado is Hanging Lake. Everyone knows this super-famous Colorado landmark.

Toutes as one of the top things to do in Glenwood Springs, Hanging Lake is on virtually everyone’s list. Despite the crowds, there’s a reason that the Hanging Lake hike makes the list of the most beautiful places in Colorado. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale.

Dramatic mosses, still waters, and tranquil trickling waterfalls make this a must-see spot.

After your hike, be sure to check out the Glenwood Hot Springs, one of the best hot springs in Colorado.

Local Tip: $12 permits are required for this hike. Get yours in advance. Opt for an early-morning time slot to beat the crowds.

Also, always check on the permit website for the most accurate and up-to-date info to make sure the trail isn’t closed.

A view of Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs.

Dillon Reservoir

You can’t mention Colorado lakes and not give a nod to the Dillon Reservoir. Located right off of I-70 it’s arguably one of the most accessible beautiful places in Colorado. The towns of Dillon, Silverthorn, and Frisco make a great home base for exploration.

Personally, I love Frisco for the quaint nature of the town and easy access to both the marina and Frisco Peninsula. You’ll find mountain biking trails, road biking paths, boat and paddleboard rentals, and more along the Dillon Reservoir.

Local Tip: Check out Sapphire Point for a sunset view of the lake!

Ice Lake Outside of Ouray

The Ice Lake Basin outside of Ouray will blow your mind! The evervensence in the water creates a bright blue hue that’s simply out of this world.

It’s a difficult schlep to get there – a 10-mile-round-trip hike with a little under 3,000 feet of vertical gain. But what did you expect for one of the best lake hikes in Colorado?

The stunning views almost the entire way will keep you motivated.

Local Tip: Visit during July or August to trek down one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado. Start before 6:30 am to beat the crowds.

Wildflowers along the hiking trails in Ice Lake outside of Ouray.

Incredible Views in Rocky Mountain National Park

Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-do for any Colorado road trip itinerary. As one of the prettiest national parks in the US, there is so much mind-blowing scenery here, you’ll need at least 2 days to take it all in.

Local Tip: You need to reserve a timed-entry slot to enter the park. You can avoid the permit it you visit before 9:00 am or after 2:00 pm. The only exception is the Bear Lake Road corridor.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass. Otherwise it’s $30 per vehicle.

Trail Ridge Road

Beautiful mountain scenery galore exists along Trail Ridge Road – a 48-mile stretch of paved roadway that takes you across the stunning Continental Divide. You’re all but guaranteed to come across wildlife here too.

Local Tip: Trail Ridge Road is only open weather-permitting and closes throughout winter. The best time to visit is from mid-June through October.

Wilson Peak

Standing at 14,023 feet tall, Wilson Peak is an awesome mountain that is situated in the northwestern region of the San Juan Mountains.

To visit one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, head to the Lizard Head Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest.

Once there, you can go on a challenging hike to the summit via the Rock of Ages Trail, or stick around and camp, fish, or ski your way through this natural wilderness.

This new trail gives you legal access to the mountain from Silver Pick Basin. It is now the best way to get to the summit.

Dream Lake and Emerald Lake

As one of the most stunning Colorado hikes, Emerald Lake needs to be on your bucket list. You’ll pass three lakes (including the aptly named Dream Lake) along your way.

Once you reach the top of this 3.6 miles out-and-back easy hike you’ll have unreal views of Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak.

The trail itself is very easy, and well marked. There’s some uphill, but you won’t be complaining as you cross lush mountain valleys and hike along the side of beautiful waterfalls.

Local Tip: To avoid the throngs of people, go for sunrise. You’ll not only get solitude, but you may get lucky and catch a glassy reflection from the shores.

prettiest places in colorado

Ypsillion Lake

For an alternative to the more crowded trails along the Bear Lake Corridor, Ypsillion Lake delivers tranquil mountain scenery. With a waterfall along the way, there are plenty of reasons to head to Ypsilon Lake. Most people rate the 8.9-mile hike as more difficult than advertised, but the views are worth it.

The Loch

If you want dramatic mountain views without a lot of effort, then make the 5.4-mile round-trip hike to the Loch. This moderately ranked trail brings you to a large, long alpine lake that delivers dramatic views of the famous spire rock formations.

Climbers (such as myself) flock to these rocky pillars to try and climb them to the top. Gawk at the pipe-like towers, enjoy the view, and relax by the water’s edge.

Local Tip: The Glacier Gorge Trail fills up by 4 am on weekends (it’s a big climbing spot and climbers start early). Either plan for a pre-dawn arrival or prepare to take the shuttle.

Long’s Peak

As the most difficult adventure on this list of the best places in Colorado, Longs Peak is no picnic. In fact, summiting this mountain should only be attempted by experienced mountain climbers.

The easiest way to the top requires a 15-mile, 5,000-foot climb that requires you to climb and scramble up and over exposed rocks. A fall could easily be fatal, so know what you’re getting into. The Keyhole Route is the most trafficked way to the top and you’ll certainly want a helmet and a 2 am start to beat afternoon storms.

Many rock climbers aspire to climb the famous Diamond formation – the second largest granite rock wall in the US next to El Capitan.

If you’re a seasoned climber with a trad rack, I’d recommend the Cables Route on Longs Peak. It’s my preferred way to the summit since (by alpine climbing standards) it’s straightforward, simple, and fun. Not to mention it sees a fraction of the crowds.

If butt-puckering exposure and dangerous climbing aren’t your things, you can hike to the boulder field or Chasm Lake for unbeatable views of this iconic mountain. No hands required.

A hiker admiring the views of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lumpy Ridge

For a different side of Rocky Mountain National Park, check out the weird and wonky clumps of cliffs that make up Lumpy Ridge. You’ll find lower-elevation hikes with beautiful distant views of Longs Peak and plenty of pretty rock formations.

The Gem Lake hike is a personal favorite of mine. And if you’re into rock climbing, Lumpy Ridge is also one of the top climbing areas in Colorado.

Sky Pond

Avid hikers will want to visit Sky Pond, one of the best hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. This lake in the clouds is surrounded by jagged peaks and spires that will put your jaw on the ground.

The hike itself is tough, but you’ll get to pass by other notable landmarks such as the Loch along the way. Towards the end of the hike, you’ll be hiking up a waterfall with slick rocks. Occasionally you’ll need to use your hands.

Once you get to the first lake (the Lake of Glass) keep going just a little further to reach the Sky Pond basin. You’ll see the Sharkstooth on your right and the rocky Taylor Peak beyond the lake.

Parking is also limited at this popular trailhead. So, make use of the park’s shuttle service.

Best Places to See Fall Colors in Colorado

One of the best ways to enjoy fall in Colorado is to head out on a weekend adventure. Immerse yourself in the brilliant yellows and oranges of an aspen grove.

These amazing places to see fall colors in Colorado are great any time of year, but during the fall season, they really shine.

Piney River Ranch

I might be a little biased here, but Piney River Ranch outside of Vail is – simply put – one of the best fall hikes in Colorado.

It’s about an hour down a gentle dirt road to the Piney River Ranch, but once you’re there you are face-to-face with a stunning wooded lake that’s flanked by an aspen grove.

Make your way along the trail and feel as if you’ve stepped into a magical world.

Serious hikers can continue along the bushwhacking route to Knee Knocker Pass (experts only), while leisurely hikers can stop at the Piney River Falls. You’ll also need a permit if you want to spend the night.

Mountain views from Piney River Ranch, one of the best views in Colorado.

Kenosha Pass

Kenosha Pass contains a massive aspen grove that lights the hillside on fire during the fall months.

People come from all over the state to oggle at this unbelievable landscape. Arrive SUPER early if you want any hope of having solitude here (even during the week).

But I promise you, I wouldn’t put it on here if it wasn’t worth it. Hike part of either Segment 5 or Segment 6 of the famous Colorado Trail and listen to the breeze pass through the Aspens.

Local Tip: The Kenosha Pass North trail is currently closed to off-highway vehicles.

Kebbler Pass

Kebbler Pass is hands-down the most scenic drive for fall colors in Colorado.

Located near Crested Butte (famous for its amazing skiing, mountain biking, and – of course – beautiful Colorado views), Kebbler Pass has to be on your fall bucket list.

It’s a popular haunt for some late-season camping, so pack your tent and plan to stay the weekend. It’s also closed seasonally in the winter due to snow.

Maroon Bells in Aspen

You can visit the Maroon Bells during any time of year, but fall is something special.

A sunrise in fall at Maroon Lake really needs to be seen to be believed. It’s also the least crowded time to pop into this famous Colorado Landmark.

The trail is easy to follow and is an easy 1.9-mile loop. Bring your tripod – this one is worth photographing as you do the best Maroon Bells hikes.

Local Tip: Reservations are required to visit Maroon Bells and associated trailheads by personal vehicle or shuttle. For more info, click here.

*$2 to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass. Or $12 per vehicle for parking, more for bus reservations.

maroon bells in fall

Best Views in Colorado That Will Surprise You

Oh wait – there’s more! Colorado is home to a wide array of scenic spots that you can visit in April in Colorado or at any time really. These amazing Colorado views still show off the best of the Centennial State, but they have a few wow factors that put them in a league of their own.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Did you know that the largest sand dunes in the Americas are actually in Colorado?

These unique, towering dunes butt right against the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains. Seeing the juxtaposition between the sea of sand and some of Colorado’s mightiest peaks will take your breath away.

Spring offers a great time to visit because the natural spring from which these dunes have been built is running at its highest.

Local Tip: This is Dark Sky Territory – meaning no light pollution exists here. Stay during a new moon to greet the Milky Way at night.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass or $30 per vehicle.

Colorado National Monument

Want to see towering red rock cliffs and amazing rock spires without leaving the state?

Head to the Colorado National Monument outside of Fruita. Put this place on your Colorado winter bucket list.

This is a great spot to visit in the winter – when the mountains are shut in with snow.

A stunningly scenic drive, plenty of awesome Colorado National Monument hikes, and a few drool-worthy viewpoints make this place a must-see. You might just think you’ve been transported to Moab from Grand Junction.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass or $25 per vehicle.

The view from Colorado National Monument.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Colorado has 4 national parks and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the most impressive and is home to some of the most secret hikes in Colorado.

Thousand-plus-foot canyon walls of sheer granite dominate the landscape here. Many people flock here to camp, hike, and climb in the canyon.

It’s a truly unique location and one of the deepest canyon systems in the country.

As a smaller national park, it gets good accolades for not being too crowded either as you try all the best Black Canyon of the Gunnison hikes.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass or $30 per vehicle.

Mesa Verde National Park

Experience the complex, wonderful native history of western Colorado at Mesa Verde.

The Ancestral Puebloans built a massive cliff dwelling structure here that’s been standing for over 1,000 years. Nestled high in the cliffs, these complicated structures housed one of the greatest societies in humanity.

Although no one really knows why this society collapsed, you can walk through the beautiful ruins and take a step back in time.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass or $30 per vehicle.

prettiest places in colroado

Unaweep Canyon

If you’re looking to take the scenic route to the San Juans (or onwards to Moab), ditch I-70 in Grand Junction and drive through Unaweep Canyon.

What makes this canyon so unique is that it starts as a desert, sandstone environment and quickly changes to a high-alpine canyon with beautiful granite walls.

You can stay at the uber-luxurious Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa for a real treat.

Local Tip: This canyon delivers a s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g sunset drive if you’re hanging out in Grand Junction.

Crystal Mill Outside of Carbondale

If you really love tranquil places and old settler architecture, then Crystal Mill is your jam!

Everyone loves photographing this hot spot – and in the fall it’s particularly busy.

Drive the bumpy 4-wheel drive road (high clearance required) to this famous perch.

Snap your photo of the idyllic scene – an old mill with a water wheel situated on a cliffside. Then ponder the beauty of this special place.

FYI, the visitor’s trail closed this year due to bad behavior from visitors.

Local Tip: This is private property. Obey signage, fencing and respect the owner’s space.

Dinosaur National Monument

Located near the border of Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument is a wild, 210,000-acre park where you can see dinosaur bones embedded in the local rock walls.

Therefore, visitors will love hiking up mountains, across deserts, and through canyons, as they spot petroglyphs from ancient civilizations.

Just don’t leave without stopping by the visitor center since they will provide you with a fascinating history of the dinosaurs that lived in the area.

Also, this is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado that should be avoided in the summer since it gets really hot.

*Free to visit with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass or $25 per vehicle.

Beautiful Places in Colorado Near Colorado Springs

Some of the best places in Colorado happen to be located right around Colorado Springs. Known for unique landscapes such as Garden of the Gods, this city in Colorado has a lot to explore. So, take time time to enjoy all the fun things to do inn Colorado Springs.

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods has to be the most beautiful place in Colorado Springs. Giant red-rock spires pierce the sky while the famous Pike’s Peak towers in its snow-capped glory in the background.

There are hikes and wheel-chair-friendly trails all over this beautiful park. Home to some of the best hikes in Colorado Springs, you’ll find several different routes to choose from. Even though the crowds are immense, everyone needs to make the pilgrimage to the Garden of the Gods at least once.

Local Tip: Visit during the week in winter – preferably arrive before 7 am – to get some solo time here.

One of the best views in Colorado is from the Garden of the Gods just outside of Denver.
All of the trails in Garden of the Gods are some of the best easy hikes near Denver.

Pikes Peak

Want to stand on the top of a Colorado 14er without hiking? Then head on up to Pikes Peak. As one of the closest 14ers to Denver, many people opt to drive the scenic road or book a seat on the cog railway to the top.

From here you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. I’m prettttty sure that on a clear-weather day you can see all the way to Kansas…maybe.

Either way, you’ll be able to check out incredible mountain views to the west and expansive views of the plains to the east.

Local Tip: You’ll have to pay a fee to drive the road, but it’s completely paved and suitable for any vehicle. It is also open year round, weather permitting.

Seven Falls

If you’re into waterfalls, then Seven Falls needs to be on your list. You’ll see – you guessed it – seven different waterfalls along this easy hike.

There is nothing like watching seven unique waterfalls cascade 181 feet down from the South Cheyenne Creek and into the river below.

Additionally, enjoy incredible views of the flat prairie on one side and panoramas of steep-walled canyons on the other.

Also be on the look out for the Pillars of Hercules. They tower 900 feet above the canyon and sit only 41 feet apart.

To reach the falls, you’ll need to park at the Broadmoor Resort (paid parking only) and take the free shuttle to the trailhead.

Additionally, while the shuttle is wheelchair-accessible, the stairs leading to the top of the falls and the hiking trails are not.

Then, after your visit, enjoy other outdoor activities at this privately-owned site, like hiking and ziplining to dining and shopping.

However, the Seven Falls are temporarily closed as of December 2023.

Royal Gorge

About an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs, you’ll find the Royal Gorge. Just outside of Canon City there lies a deep, steep canyon with an adventure park. Opt to take the cable car or walk the suspension bridge. You can also enjoy a zipline, via Ferrata, and even a giant swing.

If adventure parks aren’t your thing, then there is plenty of free and accessible hiking trails along the rim.

bets places in colorado

Painted Mines

Located just outside of Calhan, Colorado, Painted Mines Interpretive Park is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado that is only around 45 minutes away from Colorado Springs.

Just use US Highway 24 East to get here and admire a stunning place that was discovered at the convergence of three separate ecosystems.

All in all, this unexpected landmark is well worth a visit. As one of the prettiest places in Colorado for colorful rocks, the painted mines are ore-stained rock formations that have a rainbow of colors.

Plan a few hours to walk the trails (no dogs) and get up close and personal with these color-streaked rocky canyons.

Local Tip: The colors will be the brightest by mid-day with cloudless weather.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

This impressive, 1,474-acre city park is home to stunning red rock formations that sit along some of the best hikes in Colorado Springs.

So, after tackling the Contemplative Trail, the Sand Canyon Trail, and the Mesa/Greenlee Trail loop, have a relaxing picnic at their on-site pavilion.

Or, nab yourself a permit and try out some rock climbing while you’re in the area before visiting neabry Manitou Springs.

Most Beautiful Places in Colorado FAQ

What is the Number 1 Attraction in Colorado?

The number one attraction in Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. Be sure to visit Bear Lake while you’re here before driving along Trail Ridge Road to enjoy some of the best views in the area.

What are the Prettiest Places to Live in Colorado?

Some of the prettiest places to live in Colorado include:

  • Crested Butte or the “Wildflower Capitol of Colorado”
  • Aspen
  • Telluride
  • Boulder
  • Ouray
  • Estes Park
  • Colorado Springs
  • Breckenridge

Is Colorado a Pretty Place?

Home to the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, Colorado is an insanely gorgeous destination that is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

What are the Prettiest Places in Colorado?

As you can probably tell, there are countless beautiful places in Colorado. In fact, it can be a little overwhelming to choose just one place. However, if you want a local’s opinion I’d have to say the Gore Range and the San Juan Mountains.

For non-mountain destinations, The Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon fo the Gunnison are unique and stunning places.

When it comes to the best places in Colorado, it really depends on what you enjoy the most. One thing is for certain though, the beauty of Colorado will keep you coming back again and again.

Additional Colorado Travel Resources

Planning a trip to Colorado? Looking for a fun way to enjoy your home state? I’ve got your back.

These local guides give you the expert advice you need to travel like a local, not a tourist.

PIN THIS POST

Meg Atteberry
Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Hi There!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.