48 of the Best Things to Do in Colorado According to a Local

Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by foxintheforest

When it comes to the best things to do in Colorado, locals really do know all of the secrets. From awe-inspiring mountain vistas to a Denver street art scene that’s out of this world, there are plenty of Colorado activities to keep you occupied.

I’ve lived here for over 13 years and I still find ways to discover something new in the Centennial State. The top things to do in Colorado revolve around being outdoors and enjoying the over 300 days of sunshine you’ll see in the state.

So pack your bags, strap on your adventure shoes, and get ready for a list of the best things to do in Colorado that will put your jaw on the ground.

If you’re looking to discover Colorado like a local, not a tourist, then you’re in the right place. It’s my mission to give you a local look at things to do in Colorado. I’ve personally done everything on this list (quite a few things more than once).

About this Guide to the Best Things to Do in Colorado

When it comes to finding the top things to do in Colorado, local input counts! Here’s what you’ll find inside this guide:

  • The best time to visit Colorado
  • How long to spend in Colorado
  • The number 1 attraction in the Centennial State
  • Popular Colorado activites you’ve got to try
  • The prettiest places in Colorado
  • The best things to do in Colorado if you’re into adventure
  • Unique things to do in Colorado
  • Where to find amazing Colorado scenery
  • What to do in Denver
  • Top things to do in Colorado Springs
  • Quick tips for visiting Colorado
best things to do in colorado

What is the Number 1 Attraction in Colorado?

As the 4th busiest national park in the country, Rocky Mountain National Park is the top attraction in Colorado. It sees over 4.6 million visitors per year. In fact, it’s so popular that a permanent timed reservation system in place. However, the park is absolutely stunning and should be on everyone’s list.

Local Tip: Planning on visiting multiple national parks in Colorado? Or spending several days in Rocky Mountian? Consider buying the America the Beautiful Parks Pass, you may save a few dollars in the long run!

From the unbelievably scenic Trail Ridge Road, to famous hikes like Dream Lake, Long’s Peak, and Sky Pond, there is a lot to see and do.

If you want some solitude and a better chance at seeing wildlife, consider entering the park before sunrise to get ahead of the crowds.

Local Tip: Book your entry into Rocky well in advance, most weekend slots fill up immediately when they open.

What Activities is Colorado Known For?

Most of the best things to do in Colorado revolve around one thing: getting outside. Coloradans are an active bunch, with many people engaged in extreme outdoor sports. This doesn’t mean you have to be a world-class rock climber to enjoy Colorado, but you’ll certainly want to spend some time outside during your stay.

Many of the top Colorado attractions revolve around hiking, camping, backpacking, scenic driving, and rock climbing. Adventure is commonplace here in Colorado and it caters to everyone from the casual scenic driver to the mega-hiker.

You’ll find a variety of outdoor activities for all abilities and skill levels. A few notable Colorado activities that are a must-try include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • 4×4 driving
  • Sunset chasing
  • Rafting
  • Rock climbing
  • Wildlife spotting
  • Backpacking
top colorado activities

A Map of the Best Things to Do in Colorado

Get oriented with this map of the top Colorado activities and places to see. Don’t forget to check out the interactive version.

Colorado activities must-do map

The Best Things to Do in Colorado if You’re Into Adventure

Live for life on the edge? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered – I’m an alpine trad climber myself, so you’re in excellent company. If adventure is what you seek, then you have to check out the best things to do in Colorado to get your adrenaline pumping.

1. Go Sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park

For a truly unique and fun-filled day, go sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Climbing these mighty dunes is a triumph unto itself. There’s nothing quite like strapping on your board (or using a sled) to slide down these towering dunes that spurt out of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

As the largest sand dunes in North America, these massive sand mountains are worth spending a few days at, so be sure to book your lodging well in advance.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, camping is reservation only

2. Rock Climb in the Famous Eldorado Canyon

Eldorado Canyon State Park, or Eldo to the locals, is one of the top climbing areas in Colorado. Many famous climbers come here to train. Known for its sandbagged (read: harder than advertised) climbing grades and killer multi-pitch adventures, this is the place for trad climbers to test their skills.

Not to mention, the views from the top overlooking nearby Boulder to the east and the Continental Divide to the west make for one incredible day out.

Don’t climb? No problem! Hire a guide to take you up one of the many famous climbing routes in the area and learn the ropes. Or if heights freak you out too much, you can always hike and gawk at the climbers in the park.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold and climbing isn’t recommended)
Price: $10 per day
Red Tape: The park closes at sunset

things to do in Colorado

3. Thru-Hike the Colorado Trail

For burly hikers and avid backpackers, consider hiking the famous Colorado Trail. Winding its way through some of the highest elevations in the Lower 48, this 486-mile thru-hike takes around 1 month to complete.

As one of the best things to do in Colorado if you’re into hiking, you’ll need to do a little prep work to make this one happen. You can stop in towns along the way to re-supply, or send yourself boxes to local post offices.

The ideal time to hike is July and August when the higher elevations are snow-free. Some of the most gorgeous areas include the Sawatch Range, Molas Pass, and Kenosha Pass.

Local Tip: Don’t have the time? Hiking sections is totally an option, just keep in mind you’ll need to shuttle cars, hitch a ride, or head back the way you came.

Location on Map (starting from Denver area)
Hours/Time of year: July, August, although you can access some sections of the trail year-round
Price: free
Red Tape: None, although some segments require a 4WD vehicle to reach.

4. Visit a Ghost Town

Feeling spooky? Then visit one of the several famous Colorado ghost towns. These eerie, left-in-place, abandoned settlements can be found all over the state. A few fan favorites include:

  • St Elmo near Buena Vista
  • Independence along Independence Pass
  • Winfield near Buena Vista
  • Animas Forks near Silverton
  • Teller City near Walden

Local Tip: A lot of these ghost towns require a 4WD, high-clearance vehicle to reach, so be sure to check out road conditions before you check some of the best-hidden gems in Colorado.
Hours/Time of year: Summer and fall
Price: Free
Red Tape: You are not allowed to enter the buildings, as many are deemed unsafe.

5. 4×4 Drive the Alpine Loop

For an epic day in the mountains, rent a side by side (or bring your own) and drive the utterly scenic Alpine Loop. Starting from the historic Silverton in the heart of the San Juans, head on a 91-mile dirt road journey up and over two mountain passes.

Known for its gorgeous scenery, the San Juan Mountains are often referred to as the Alps of America. July and August are jaw-dropping times to go (and roads are typically clear). You’ll head over Cinnamon Pass and stop for lunch in Lake City, then continue back over Engineer Pass for an unbelievable backcountry adventure.

If you’re not renting a side by side, you’ll need a lifted, high-clearance vehicle with low gears. Due to the bumpy road, it’s worthwhile to camp along the way (no services, designated spots only) and make this a 2 – 3 day trip if you’re traveling by Jeep or equivalent.

Location on Map (Ouray start). Alternatively, start in the heart of town in Silverton, Colorado
Hours/Time of year: Late June through September
Price: free, around $385 per day to rent a side by side from Rock Pirates
Red Tape: Must stay on marked trails and only camp in designated areas

6. Raft the Arkansas River

Make a splash on one of the top water-filled things to do in Colorado. The Arkansas River outside of Salida is home to the famous Browns Canyon, a world-class rafting destination.

You can opt to enjoy gentle rapids or try your luck in the Class 4 mega-rapids of the canyon. Be prepared to get wet and enjoy stunning scenery along the way.

Rafters can bring their own gear (no permit required) or you can join up with an organized tour.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Summer
Price: Around $50 per person for a guided rafting trip
Red Tape: None

7. Go Tubing on Clear Creek Canyon

Ride along in a tube in Clear Creek Canyon on this long-honored local pastime. Every spring, when the snow melts, the rapids of Clear Creek swell enough to make tubing possible.

The Clear Creek White Water Park is a self-serve area where tubers can walk upstream plop in and hold on for the wild ride back down to Golden, Colorado. Ride at your own risk and wear a life vest if you’re worried.

You can buy a tube in town (inner tire tubes work great) or rent one from the Adventure West River Tube Rental.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Late spring through early summer
Price: free unless renting a tube
Red Tape: None, younger children aren’t advised when the water is really high

8. Tackle the Telluride Via Ferrata

Telluride isn’t just one of the best mountain towns in Colorado, but it’s home to one of the top Colorado via Ferratas too. If you’re looking to step out into the void, then you’ve got to check out the Telluride Via Ferrata.

This vertigo-inducing “iron way” takes you out and across some of the biggest cliffs in the San Juan Range. Located just above the town the Telluride Via Ferrata is totally doable if you’re an avid outdoor rock climber with anchor-building experience.

Inexperienced but intrepid travelers should hire a guide for safety reasons.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: summer to early fall
Price: free or around $100 per person for a guide
Red Tape: This is a one-way route

best adventurous colorado activities

9. Camp in the Sawatch Mountains

One of the best things to do in Colorado, hands down, is to camp. And the Sawatch Range near Buena Vista offers some of the top free camp spots in Colorado. With lots of different options available, it’s a great place to learn how to camp for free after enjoying the best hikes in Buena Vista.

If you don’t like being off the grid, you can also find many different campgrounds available right in the heart of the mountains. Home to Mt Elbert (Colorado’s tallest mountain), Twin Lakes, and plenty of paved scenic drives, it’s easy to spend a weekend under the stars in the Sawatch.

Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, camping is reservation only

10. Ice Climb at the Ouray Ice Park

One of the top things to do in Colorado in winter besides skiing is to try your luck at climbing frozen water. The Ouray Ice Park is a safe environment where you can learn the ropes of this weird, but fun Colorado activity.

Bring your own tools and rope or hire a guide in nearby Ouray to learn how to climb. As one of the most fun Ouray activities, you’ll want to give this activity a go!

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Winter
Price: Free if you are not hiring a guide
Red Tape: none

11. Ski at Vail Resort

There are a lot of top ski areas in Colorado, but Vail has to be one of the most iconic. Nestled in a cute Swiss-themed village the resort offers plenty of epic terrain for all types of skiers and riders.

If you tire of Vail, you can always head to nearby Beaver Creek for even more slopeside action.

Local Tip: I-70 traffic is very brutal on the weekends. Plan for delays to and from Denver lasting well over an hour.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Winter and early spring
Price: $200+ per day
Red Tape: None

12. Hike to the Stunning Ice Lake

As one of the most stunning alpine lake hikes in Colorado, the Ice Lake Basin hike needs to be on your list. This butt-busting hike takes you up into the heart of the San Juan Mountains to Ice and Island Lakes.

Yes, the water really is that blue, especially on a sunny day. If you’re lucky enough to be there when the flowers are in bloom, then you’re in for a real treat.

But be prepared, you’ll earn it along this 8.1-mile hike that gains over 3,000 feet in just 4 miles.

Local Tip: This hike gets mega crowded, start before 6 am to beat the hordes of people.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Mid-June through October
Price: Free for now, but permits are slated to be required
Red Tape: At the time of this post, no permits are required for ICe Lake, but the Forest Service has indicated this will change for the summer 2022 season, so read up on current regulations.

prettiest places in colorado

13. Stare in Awe at Canyon of the Ancients

Immerse yourself in Native American history and uncover the vast network of ruins and artwork at Canyon of the Ancients. Located near the 4-Corners region of Cortez, you’ll find an amazing array of Native American dwellings, art, and more. Some of which date back thousands of years.

Unlike the more developed Mesa Verde, you’ll want to plan for off-grid adventures here. Do your homework, check fire restrictions, and always maintain a respectful distance from artifacts and dwellings. Removing pottery, arrowheads, or defacing these ruins is a felony.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold, unbearably hot in summers)
Price: $3 to enter Canyon of the Ancients National Monument
Red Tape: Dogs not allowed

Unique Things to Do in Colorado

When it comes to utterly unique things to do in Colorado, you’re literally spoiled for choice. Colorado is home to so many distinct landscapes, quirky sites, and unique activities that you could spend a lifetime here and still not have seen it all.

14. Take the Cog Railway to the Top of Pike’s Peak

The newly re-opened Cog Railway in Colorado Springs heads to the summit of Pike’s Peak. At 14,115″ above the sea, t’s the only rail line in the USA that goes to such high elevations. It’s certainly the most unique way to summit a mountain, which is why it’s near the top of the list of the best things to do in Colorado.

Local Tip: Dress in layers! The top of Pike’s Peak can be quite cold and windy, even in summers. Drink plenty of water and be prepared to really feel the altitude on this adventure.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Open year-round, but very cold in the winter
Price: $58 and up per person depending on ticket class
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed. Advanced reservations are strongly recommended during the summer and fall.

15. Discover Ancient History at Mesa Verde National Park

See some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan ruins in all of the American Southwest at Mesa Verde National Park. Hike amongst the ruins and see how people built homes directly into gravity-defying cliffs. This well-preserved site offers an exceptional, educational glimpse into the great civilizations of America’s First People.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $20 per day from November 1 to April 30th, $30 otherwise. Free with the America the Beautiful annual pass
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed. Services near the park are limited so plan accordingly.

Mesa Verde

16. Hike to the Top of the Famous Flatirons

Known as a right of passage by many local Coloradans, hiking to the top of the First and Second Flatirons in Boulder is a must-do activity. As one of Boulder’s best hikes, it sees quite a bit of traffic. And as you make your way up the steep, winding switchbacks you may question your sanity, but I promise the views are worth it.

More intrepid rock enthusiasts with climbing experience may even want to consider free soloing the Second Flatiron.

Local Tip: There are some scramble-y bits (where you will need to use your hands and climb up a few boulders) along this hike.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $5 to park
Red Tape: Dogs are allowed on leash, but they will need to be lifted over rocks.

17. Soak in the Famous Pagosa Springs

All of this activity wearing you out? Then book a few days at Pagosa Springs. As one of the best things to do in Colorado to unwind, the three unique hot springs facilities at Pagosa Springs offer up everything from relaxing spa treatments to kid-friendly springs.

Local Tip: Many hot springs resorts require advanced reservations. This system has stuck and will continue to be required for most Colorado hot springs.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round
Price: Varies
Red Tape: Some hot springs do not allow children

18. Summit a 14,000 Foot Peak

If you’re looking for a unique challenge, consider hiking one of Colorado’s prettiest 14ers. Avid hikers from all over the world flock to the 54 (or 58 depending on who you ask) mountains that are over 14,000 feet tall.

Known as 14ers by locals, they range in technical challenges. With some of the easiest 14ers in Colorado having a trailed route to the top. But don’t let the name fool you – none of these mountains are easy – people die every year – and you should certainly read up on how to hike your first 14er before you hit the trails.

Hours/Time of year: late June through mid-October
Price: Free with the exception of Mt Quandary (parking) and Culebra Peak
Red Tape: These are serious endeavors that should only be attempted by highly experienced hikers.

19. Ride the Narrow Gauge Trail from Durango to Silverton

Offering up some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado, you can ride a narrow-gauge railway from Durango to Silverton. Traversing the mighty San Juan Mountains, this scenic railway brings you into the heart of the mountains. As one of the most unique Colorado activities, you can pack your bag and backpack directly off of a train stop along the way.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round
Price: $158+ per person
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed. Advanced booking is highly recommended, especially if you’re backpacking.

20. Scope Out the Sandstone Monoliths at the Colorado National Monument

One thing people don’t realize is that Colorado has a stunning red rock desert.

Sure, Moab may get all of the attention, but the Colorado National Monument is the perfect place to get your desert fix while doing the best Colorado National Monument hikes.

Featuring beautiful rock spires, endangered bighorn sheep, and unbelievable desert views, the Colorado National Monument near Fruita is worth a visit.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over summer, but exceptionally hot)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, camping is reservation only

21. Take a Winter Driving Class

The Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs is the largest winter driving track in the country. This unique ice track is designed to teach you how to keep control of your vehicle in winter conditions.

Classes teach you the basics and enable you to practice your skills in a controlled environment. Learn what to do if you lose control on the roads, or opt to take a premier performance course – where you’ll get to have fun spinning around tight turns on the ice.

22. Camp at the Largest Sand Dunes in North America (Great Sand Dunes National Park)

Camping at the Great Sand Dunes National Park is simply one of the best things to do in Colorado if you want to sleep under the stars. The Pinon Flats Campground at the park is tired and features incredible sunset views against the tallest sand dunes in North America.

The best part? This is dark sky territory, meaning the starscape really delivers at night since there is no light pollution.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per vehicle to enter the park (free with an America the Beautiful Parks Pass), camping is $20 per night.
Red Tape: Advanced reservations are required for camping and they sell out almost immediately.

road trips from denver

23. Discover Bishop Castle

If weird and whacky architecture is your thing, then there’s no place like Bishop Castle. Located off of the beaten path in Rye, Colorado, this unique landmark is the product of 100% off-the-grid effort. 100% free to visit and open all the time, this DIY landmark is something unique!

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Always open
Price: Free but donations are encouraged
Red Tape: No dogs

24. Visit the Stanley Hotel

Located in Estes Park, this stunning hotel dates back to 1909 and was featured in the iconic movie, The Shining.

Therefore, it’s one of those unique places in Colorado that is known for its paranormal activity.

So, if you’d like to visit you can either book a room for the night or explore as part of a guided tour that costs $24-$28 per person.

And with daytime and evening tour options available, you can easily book an experience that best suits your needs.

Just be sure to go with the nighttime tour if you’re looking to get super creeped out during your visit.

Hours/Time of year: Always open
Price: Tours are between $24 and $28 per person
Red Tape: No dogs

25. Relax in the Hot springs at Glenwood Springs

Nestled along the mighty Colorado River and surrounded by the Colorado River, Glenwood Springs is brimming over with amazing hot springs that are just waiting to be explored.

After all, the Yampah Spring feeds the water in the area and heats it up to around 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, for the best chance to soak in some hot springs, head to Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. After all, they have the largest hot spring pool in the world, enabling visitors to swim laps in water that is between 90 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another great spot is Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which is quieter with 17 different soaking pools that are interconnected via walkways. You can even refresh yourself in rain showers between dips but be sure to make a reservation since this place gets quite crowded, especially on weekends.

Lastly, head to the Yampah Spa and Vapor Caves if you want to see the only vapor caves in North America. Again, just be sure to make reservations prior to visiting.

Hours/Time of year: Year-Round
Price: Varies
Red Tape: No pets

Top Things to Do in Colorado for Pretty Scenery

Coloradans spend so much time outside in part because it’s just so dang gorgeous. The adventure, mixed with incredible scenery is what has kept me here for the last 13 years. Here’s a look at a few of the top things to do in Colorado that feature gorgeous scenery.

26. Check Out Boulder

Boulder is well-located in the state and allows you to get out into the Front Range and see the famous Flatirons.

However, for the best views of the Flatirons possible, head to Chautauqua Park. You can also try some world-class trad climbing in Eldorado State Park before taking a dip in the creek at Boulder Canyon.

And for some of the best panoramas in the area, be sure to climb to the top of Flagstaff Mountain.

Hours/Time of year: Year-Round
Price: Varies
Red Tape: None

27. Take a Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

There’s a reason Rocky Mountain National Park is so popular – it’s stunning. One of the best ways to experience the park is on foot. There are countless amazing hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park to check out. From epic summits requiring a helmet and climbing skills to leisurely strolls around dreamy alpine lakes, there’s something for everyone. A few must-see spots include:

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed on trails. Timed entry permits are required during certain hours from April through October.

top coloardo attractions

28. Drive Trail Ridge Road

Easily one of the most iconic scenic drives in all of Colorado, Trail Ridge Road is something that everyone in Colorado should do at least once.

After all, it’s located in Rocky Mountain National Park, is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, and spans the Continental Divide at 12,183 feet in the air.

Therefore, it offers visitors sweeping views of the region at Rainbow Curve Overlook but is closed annually from October through the end of May.

Hours/Time of year: End of May through October
Price: $25 to enter the park.
Red Tape: None

29. Visit the Maroon Bells in Aspen

Chances are if you’ve Googled Colorado, you’ve seen photos of Maroon Bells. These iconic, pyramid-shaped peaks are located just outside of Aspen. As one of the best places in Colorado for fall colors, this is a bucket-list destination for sure. You can go on a short hike to Maroon Lake for sunrise to catch the iconic photograph.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but you’ll have to hike along the road to get in).
Price: $16 for the shuttle
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed on the shuttle. Shuttles reservations or parking reservations are required and sell out fast during the busy season.

30. Wander the Garden of the Gods

As one of the top hiking areas in Colorado Springs – and in Colorado for that matter – Garden of the Gods will put your jaw on the floor. Rid rock towers pierce into the sky with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the background.

There are all different kinds of hiking trails catering to all abilities. Including paved, accessible paths.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, camping is reservation only

31. Hike to Hanging Lake

The Hanging Lake hike will have you rubbing your eyes and slapping your face. You’ll think you’re in an absolute dream. Sure, the trail is a little steep, but take your time as a real treat awaits.

Arguably one of the best hikes in Colorado, Hanging Lake is a dreamy location. There’s nothing else in Colorado that’s quite like the fairy tale oasis perched at the top of these impressive canyon walls.

You’ll need a timed permit to hike the trail, and competition can be quite fierce, so make your reservation early.

Local Tip: Hanging Lake has been experiencing temporary closures due to trail maintenance from the 2021 landslides. Always check on the permit website for the most accurate and up-to-date info!

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Year-round, but late April/early May at the earliest time slot is best.
Price: $10 per person
Red Tape: Dogs are not allowed. Swimming, fishing, walking on the logs or going anywhere but the prescribed path is strictly forbidden. Advanced permits are required.

most scenic things to see in colorado

32. Drive the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway

Immerse yourself in stunning million-dollar mountain views along the Million Dollar Highway. This paved, winding, ribbon of tarmac makes its way from Ouray, Colorado to Silverton. As a must-do Colorado activity, you’ll want to spend a half-day driving the road (and back).

Featuring brilliant views of Red Mountain, epic (and sometimes a little nerve-wracking) views of Uncompahgre Canyon, this is one of the most scenic drives in America.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter weather permitting, but it can be very hazardous)
Price: Free
Red Tape: None, but do keep in mind there are steep drops and no guardrails along the road.

33. Relax at Strawberry Park Hot Springs

For an all-natural hot springs experience, there’s nothing quite like Strawberry Park in Steamboat Springs. These relaxing hot springs feature eco-friendly facilities that blend in seamlessly with the forested landscape. You’ll feel like you’re in an oasis in the trees.

Local Tip: Ater dark it’s clothing optional and children are not recommended.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round
Price: $20 per person.
Red Tape: No dogs, no alcohol cash only. Advanced, timed reservations re required. There is no lighting after dark so bring a headlamp.

34. Backpack to Lone Eagle Peak – Colorado’s Prettiest Mountain

Known as the prettiest mountain in Colorado, Lone Eagle Peak is well worth the effort it takes to get there. As one of the best backpacking trips in Colorado, if you’re into backcountry camping, then this is one of the best spots to do it.

The 14-mile round-trip hike is gorgeous unto itself – and you may even run into a moose! But the views from mirror lake make the effort well worth the sweat.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: early summer through fall
Price: $11 per night, $11 for 3 days to enter the area.
Red Tape: Camping is by permit only. You are not permitted to camp within 200 feet of lakes or streams. Weekend permits fill up almost immediately.

35. Drive to the Top of Mt Blue Sky (formerly Mt Evans) in September

Perfect for fall, one of Colorado’s top scenic fall drives takes you through some spectacular scenery to (almost) the top of another famous 14,000-plus-foot peak – Mount Evans (now Mt Blue Sky). At 14,265 feet tall, the views are quite impressive. Not to mention, you’ll wind your way through a stunning aspen grove along the way.

Local Tip: This is one of the best scenic drives near Denver, so if you’re in the area it’s a great way to visit the mountains without having to leave your car.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall, the road closes after the first snow and is not maintained through winter.
Price: $2 per vehicle
Red Tape: Timed entry reservations are required

36. Get Vertigo at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado is home to 4 national parks, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is somewhat of a hidden gem. Often overlooked, and rarely crowded, this incredible National park will give you vertigo!

Featuring some of the tallest, steepest cliffs in America. At over 2,700 feet deep, the impressive granite walls will have you feeling smaller than ever. You can walk around the rim of the canyon (and try to hold your lunch) or if you’re an intrepid hiker, try your luck at scrambling down one of the two main trails to the bottom. Either way there is a best Black Canyon of the Gunnison hike for you.

Camping is an excellent choice to see the canyon walls during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.

Local Tip: The North Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and South Rim are separated by several hours of driving, so pick one area to explore. The north is more remote and better known for its intrepid climbing routes, while the south is easier to access.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (open over winter, but very cold)
Price: $30 per day
Red Tape: Dogs are only allowed in certain areas of the park, camping is reservation only

37. Visit Grand Lake

Looking for a great place to go boating, fishing, and hiking? If so then catch some rays along the shores oF Grand Lake.

After all, this is the largest natural body of water in Colorado and it is one of the best things to do in Colorado that is just a short drive away from Rocky Mountain National Park.

So, be sure to stop by and take advantage of the many picnic spots here that offer amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

You can also relax on the beach or head to the marina and try kayaking or renting a motorboat there.

Afterward, venture into the town of Grand Lake and check out the many cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops in the area.

Hours/Time of year: Year-round
Price: $15 per person
Red Tape: None

coloardo things to do

Top Things to Do in Denver

There are countless things to do in Denver if you’re looking for more of a city vibe. This laid-back city has a casual atmosphere and is well-known for its art scene, creativity, and small businesses.

38. Tour the Botanical Gardens

With an impressive lineup of programs, the Denver Botanical Gardens host an impressive collection of fauna to enjoy. Their tropical house is quite unique, while the garden grounds are an oasis of native plant species in the summer. Come for the blooms or the light displays in winter.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Year-round
Price: $15 per person
Red Tape: Advanced reservations are required.

39. See the Denver Street Art

Mural art is a long-time tradition in the Mile High City. For awesome street art, check out the trendy RiNo district. Or attend the annual Crush Walls Festival, where artists come into the RiNo and re-design the walls each year.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round
Price: free
Red Tape: none

40. Check Out a Concert at Red Rocks

About a 30-minute drive from downtown Denver is one of the most unique concert venues in the country. The red Rocks Amphitheater is one of 4 naturally occurring amphitheaters in the world. Two giant red rock cliffs jut out of the ground creating an outdoor concert space unlike any other. The stunning views of Denver in the distance are just the icing on the cake.

Local Tip: Can’t catch a show? No worries! The amphitheater is open to the public during the day so you can still check it out.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Year-round, although most concerts happen spring through fall
Price: Free to visit during the day, concert prices vary.
Red Tape: None.

colorado attractions

41. Experience Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station

If you’re into immersive art, then look no further than Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station. Over 110 local artists help create these whimsical, intense feasts of the eyes. It’s hard to really describe Convergence Station, but one thing is for certain, you won’t leave the same.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: 10 am to 10 pm every weekday, 12 am on weekends
Price: $45 per person with special discounts available for Colorado residents.
Red Tape: Timed entry reservations are required

42. Attend the Biggest Beer Festival in North America

The Great American Beer Festival celebrates hoppy suds in a 3-day event. Breweries from all over the US compete for medals in their craft and you can get in on the action. Attend the festival and try as many brews as you want. Sample your favorite breweries or discover something new.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: 2022 dates: October 6 through 8th, September 21 through September 23, 2023
Price: TBD
Red Tape: Tickets to this event sell out almost instantly, so be sure to mark your calendar for the release date.

43. Nosh Away at Denver’s Food Scene

Many people are surprised to learn that Denver actually has a pretty bumpin’ food scene. This is largely thanks to access to fresh ingredients and pro-small business legislation. A few of the most popular areas for eating include:

  • The RiNo District
  • Highlands Neighborhood
  • South Broadway
  • Cherry Creek

Hours/Time of year: year-round.
Price: varies
Red Tape: Reservations are becoming increasingly necessary in Denver, even at more casual establishments, so it’s best to book a table.

Things to Do in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is a popular place to visit and with good reason – it’s got a lot to offer. We’ve covered a great many things to do near colorado Springs already (Garden of the Gods and the Cog Railway) but there’s still more to discover.

44. Drive to the Top of Pike’s Peak

If the railway isn’t your thing, you can drive a paved road to the top of Pikes Peak. the Pikes Peak Road is a popular attraction that truly defies gravity. In fact, every year there’s a rally race on this road. But the views are fantastic and the adrenalin burst will get your blood pumping.

Go slow, because protection on winding turns isn’t always the greatest.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Summer, hours vary.
Price: $35 per car
Red Tape: None

unique things to do in Colorado

45. Stay at the Broadmoor

The beautiful grounds of the Broadmoor Resort are the stuff of legends. This famous historic resort features several pools, cabins, a few golf courses, and plenty of eateries. In the winter, their gingerbread display will make your mouth water, while summer blooms bring the beautiful property to life.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round
Price: carries, but rates start at around $250 per night
Red Tape: None

46. Walk Across the Royal Gorge

You’ll find the highest suspension bridge (956 feet above the river) in America right outside of Colorado Springs. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Adventure Park is home to several fun-filled activities along with walking across the high-flying bridge. If you want a real thrill, strap into America’s tallest Zip Line. or You can enjoy the views from the Gondola.

Local Tip: if visiting the adventure park isn’t your thing, there are plenty of free hikes that offer amazing views of the Royal Gorge and the surrounding landscape.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round 10 am to 4 pm
Price: $25 for general admission, more for skycoaster, via ferrata, and zipline.
Red Tape: None.

47. Visit Seven Falls

Now owned by the Broadmoor, you can visit the Seven Falls by shuttle leaving from the Broadmoor (free transportation for everyone but the falls are paid). The 1,250-foot wall box canyon falls are absolutely gorgeous. Hear the roar of the water and experience the magic of one of the best waterfalls in Colorado.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: Spring through Fall (closes for maintenance in the winter)
Price: $17 per person
Red Tape: none

48. Explore the Painted Mines Interpretive Park

For a weird and whacky twist, check out the Painted Mines Interpretive Park. Named for their colorful clays, these other-worldly cliffs feature bands of vibrant colors. Once used by Native Americans for paint, this unique landscape is now a hiking area where you can enjoy the unexpected landscape.

Location on Map
Hours/Time of year: year-round, dawn to dusk
Price: Free
Red Tape: Bikes, horses, and drones are not allowed.

things to do near colorado springs

When is the Best Time to Visit Colorado?

Colorado is an awesome place to visit year-round. Colorado in winter is great for a variety of snowsports from dog sledding to world-famous skiing.

In the spring, it’s still possible to ski, but this is a great time to enjoy city life in Colorado. Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs are excellent this time of year. The mountains will hold snow well into the beginning of June, so camping, hiking, and 4×4 roads will be limited. If you want to get into nature, check out Fruita and the Colorado National Monument.

Local Tip: Mid to late fall and Spring (after spring break in April in Colorado) are the quietest times to visit Colorado. Lodging tends to be less expensive and there aren’t as many tourists around – although locals love to travel in Colorado.

Summers are a happening time in Colorado. This is the busiest time to visit the state, with plenty of people embarking on Colorado road trips. Summers are hot, with frequent (and violent) thunderstorms virtually every afternoon and the appearance of some of the best Colorado wildflowers.

Many of the most popular places in Colorado require advanced, timed reservations, so do your homework. July marks the wildflower season in the mountains and is one of the prettiest displays in the world.

Fall in Colorado is another drop-dead gorgeous time to visit. The fall colors in Colorado change from year to year, but generally, the third week of September sees a lot of action with the changing aspens. Although the nights are cooler, it’s still possible to camp, go for a scenic fall drive, or check out one of the top fall hikes in Colorado. You can also check out Fort Collins hikes too.

Quick Tips for Visiting Colorado

If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, there are a few things you should know before you go. Here’s a look at how to visit Colorado like a local.

Acclimatize properly. The altitude here is real. You may feel you’re out of breath, dizzy, or get headaches. Avoid alcohol for your first day and drink plenty of water.

Book things well in advance. Many of the best things to do in Colorado now require advanced reservations and permits. You’ll want to book as soon as you can – in some cases, as soon as permits open up – in order o have the most flexibility.

Early bird gets the solitude. Colorado is a BUSY place – especially during the summer months. Mountain traffic can be horrendous and trails can feel more like a line for a ride at Disneyland. Plan to arrive at places early for your best chance at fewer crowds.

Be a good steward. Listen, we all love our public lands and outdoor spaces, but to put it bluntly – your mom doesn’t live here. More and more people are littering the trails and outdoor spaces we love. Always have a plastic baggie on hand to stash your trash. Do not litter and pack out your trash. This includes your toilet paper and dog poop if you are hiking or camping. If you’re not ready to do that, choose activities that are better suited for your comfort level.

Follow all fire bans and closed signs. Always be sure to stay on the trail, camp in previously established sites, and follow any fire bans that are in place. Keep in mind that counties and land management both have separate fire regulations so check with both the county you are in and the land management department (forest service, national park, BLM, etc) you are visiting.

Stay right except to pass. Look, I get it – even the interstate is pretty here. However, the left lanes of traffic ar meant for passing. if you’re driving slow, pull over if there are more than 5 cars behind you, and stick to the left lane when possible.

Additional Local Colorado Travel Resources

Wanna make the most of your visit to Colorado, check out these local guides:

Picture of 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.