No place is perfect, and Colorado is no exception. For a place that has so much epic beauty, there are a few hot ticket items that make this list of the most overrated Colorado attractions.
Since I’m focused on the outdoors, I’m only including activities with an outdoor edge in this list.
I’ve lived here for almost 15 years and I’ve scoured the state of Colorado. Over the years I’ve been in places that few souls venture to and big-name destinations that top every best-of list. So it’s suffice to say that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to overrated Colorado locales.
How I Came Up with this List
This list is a combined effort. I did research into what visitors think the most over-rated attractions are and I took my own notes. You’ll see a “my take” section underneath every overrated attraction that gives you a no-holds-bar at what I think about it.
I’ve been to quite a few places on this list several times and seen how it’s changed over the years. A few of these are pretty hot takes, so you’ve been warned!
The Most Overrated Colorado Attractions: Outdoor Addition
Grand slam? Or total flop? These locations are (mostly) highly over-rated. I actually don’t agree with popular opinion on a few of these, so you’ll have to read to get a local viewpoint!
Pikes Peak Cog Railway
The Pike’s Peak Cog Railway actually makes national lists of the most overrated places according to USA Today. And I’ve got to be honest, I was a little surprised by this.
For a long time, the cog railway was one of the most iconic things to do in Colorado. When I first moved here, I took a ride. And it wasn’t uncommon for me to bring visitors up there too.
However, since it’s re-opening in 2021 it’s fallen into the overrated category due to the price. And at almost $60 for one ticket, I’ve got to agree.
My Take as a Colorado Local:
Admittedly I haven’t been on the train since the Broadmoor re-opened it in 2017. But I did take 3 rides prior to that. And I’ve driven the road 3 separate times as well. Frankly, I’d consider the hike to the top of Pike’s Peak to be more over-rated than the train, but that’s based on cheaper pricing.
Honestly, I think the price point has gotten pretty steep over the years. And that’s why it’s on here as an over-rated attraction.
However, the average person isn’t interested in or isn’t capable of going up a 14,000-foot mountain. The Cog Railway delivers that experience of standing on top of one of Colorado’s 14ers. This is one of the few ways people can experience the top of one of these famous mountains.
If you don’t like the idea of a railway ticket, you can drive to the top. Or consider driving to the top of Mount Blue Sky instead. It’s a bit less developed and delivers jaw-dropping views.
2,744 steps laboriously hike up a boring 2,000 vertical feet. You’re literally on a StairMaster up a steep hillside. For a state that’s known for its mountains and challenging hikes, this one just screams boring AF.
Seriously. There are SO MANY more challenging Colorado hikes to choose from that offer an exceptional array of terrain and scenery. Hoofing it up a staircase just outside of town sounds like the worst way to spend your time visiting Colorado.
The Incline is dumb. Really, really, really dumb.
Frankly, who wants to climb that many steps with that many people? If you’re going to put in the effort, you should just hike a hard trail. It’s far more scenic, less monotonous, and you don’t need to hike with thousands of strangers.
Not to mention you need a reservation to hike the thing now. Why bother?
4×4 and hiker enthusiasts alike flock for the iconic view of Crystal Mill. A cool-looking water wheel perched on the edge of a creek on private property.
Sounds great. And at one point, it was.
But now the owner has hired someone to stand by the viewpoint and charge people for photos. That did it for me. Apparently, this behavior has stopped, but overall it’s a tourist trap experience that just doesn’t live up to the hype.
God forbid you hike this 4×4 road. It’s a constant stream of cars, dust, and engine noise. Utterly lame.
Sure, it’s pretty, but this place has gotten so out of control. Although lots of people love it, it’s a hard pass. There are better drives and prettier scenery without the crowds and hassle.
This could be a cool attraction. However, the people, the owners, and the traffic completely ruin it.
Hiking this road is absolutely over-rated, you’re just sitting in a stream of Jeeps. Sure, it’s kind of a cool scene, but it’s really not worth the effort. There are better 4×4 roads and scenic drives in Colorado.
Garden of the Gods
An absolutely stunning public park (read: not a national park or even a state park) that is home to unexpected red rock displays. Garden of the Gods is another attraction that gets a lot of bad press from visitors because it’s crowded and people expect to spend a day here.
This is a classic expectations vs reality thing. Expect to spend an hour or two here. And if you are silly enough to visit between 8 am and 4 pm on a weekend, then you should also expect a ton of people.
A Local’s Take:
I’m honestly quite surprised to see so many visitors claim that this is overrated. Is it busy? When most people visit, absolutely. And a lot of people claim it’s just a pile of rocks. While they are technically correct, if you visit Garden of the Gods the right way, and set your expectations (yes it’s okay to have paved trails for access and no you shouldn’t plan to spend a day here), then I still think it’s one of the prettiest places in Colorado and totally worth doing.
Go for sunrise, avoid weekends, and enjoy the scenery this unique spot has to offer.
We did this as a quick stop on a road trip and it was pretty underwhelming. It’s a concrete slab with a plaque on it. The end.
Overrated? Absolutely! There are better ways to spend your day. But the novelty of standing there is an allure for some, just don’t make a trip out of it.
Frankly, the Four Corners are boring. Just a flat slab of concrete with a placard. Colorado does have much better things to offer. You’d be better off spending your time in nearby Mesa Verde, one of 4 National Parks in Colorado.
Skiing along the I-70 Corridor
Do you like waking up at 4 am to beat traffic to ski? Enjoy $200-plus lift tickets or a $1,000 season pass? Want to sit in just as much traffic leaving the slopes? All after you’ve spent most of your day in long lift lines? Then ski along the I-70 corridor.
It’s brutal. So brutal in fact, that there is an entire satirical Instagram account dedicated to the traffic seen on the highway.
Entertaining IG feeds aside, skiing the I-70 corridor has to be on of the most overrated attractions in Colorado. I don’t care how good the slopes are, spending 7 hours in your car for what should be a 2.5-hour round-trip drive is insane.
I’ve lived here for almost 15 years and I’ve seen the traffic utterly explode during ski season on the I-70 corridor (there are times during the weekend where I can’t leave my neighborhood). Match that with the INSANE, sky-high lift ticket prices, and frankly, no thanks!
There are some really great, less-crowded, budget-friendly ski resorts in Colorado. These have a lot to offer, and – shocker – most of them aren’t along the I-70 corridor.
Royal Gorge Bridge
I’ve never understood the point of this place. It’s nearly $30 just to walk the grounds. You want to do anything else, you better fork out cash. Sure there are a few cool activities, and the Gorge itself is really cool.
But given you can hike around the area for FREE, there’s no point in paying for this tourist trap.
It’s not that I don’t like the Royal Gorge or think it’s not worth visiting. I think the Royal Gorge Adventure Park is a tourist trap. You can visit for free simply by enjoying one of the nearby hiking trails. Why would you pay to go to a developed area of the Gorge? To me, it’s a wasted opportunity to enjoy the area.
Boulder – mostly anything
Another hot-take – especially since I do frequent areas around Boulder. But as a whole Boulder is totally overrated. If you’re going to spend time in a smaller town, why not visit one of the many outstanding Colorado mountain towns?
Boulder doesn’t offer up anything special aside from perhaps the Flatirons, but that doesn’t really warrant multiple or extended visits in my opinion.
Things in Boulder have gone downhill. There is a serious unhoused people problem. Parking is a nightmare (and never free). Most recently, they make everyone who isn’t a Boulder resident PAY to use their public parks. A little snooty in my opinion.
I for sure still go to Boulder – mostly for climbing in Eldorado Canyon – one of the best state parks in Colorado. I also occasionally trail run here when I want to run at lower elevations (I live in the mountains nearby). There are some really great Boulder hikes, but ever since they make you pay to hike here unless you’re from Boulder, I’ve got to agree with the masses – it’s gotten a bit overrated.
Additional Colorado Travel Resources
Looking to get to know Colorado like a local, not a tourist? Check out these resources:
- Colorado’s Most Underrated Attractions (coming soon)
- Incredible Weekend Trips from Denver You’ve Got to Book Now
- When is the Best Time to Visit Colorado