10 must-visit places in Colorado

Last updated:
By David Em
Nola & Luna Travel may earn a commission on purchases made from affiliate links on this page.

Colorado is a western state in the U.S. that’s filled with many outdoor attractions and sights that you need to see.

Mountains and trees in Colorado during the fall.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park

Across 415 square miles in northern Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. It boasts more than 300 miles of hiking trails where you can see wildflowers, wildlife, stars at night, and many serene views of nature.

Related: What are the best historical sites around the world?

It also has more than 100 peaks, with some that are more than 11,000 feet in altitude. Additionally, it holds over 150 subalpine and alpine lakes. Most of the lakes are accessible with a day hike.

With all that it offers, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Each year, more than three million people visit to experience its incredible outdoor adventures.

2. Mesa Verde National Park

In the southwest corner of Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park.

The scenery is stunning, and it’s known for the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, which are one of the best-preserved in North America. It protects 5,000 known archaeological sites, and that includes 600 cliff dwellings.

Some of the most notable cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park includes Balcony House, Cliff Palace, Long House, Step House, and Spruce Tree House.

It also sits on the Colorado Plateau, which offers expansive views of the valleys and canyons. For different sights, try several hikes that it offers. The popular trailheads include Morefield, Chapin Mesa, and Wetherill Mesa.

3. Pikes Peak

If you’re visiting Colorado, Pikes Peak is a must-see. It’s about two hours away from Denver, and an hour from Colorado Springs.

At 14,115 feet, Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America.

When you visit Pikes Peak, be sure to drive on Pikes Peak Highway for scenic views of the mountain. Set aside 2 to 3 hours for the drive, so that you can enjoy the views and make stops along the way.

4. Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center

Address: 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center is located in Colorado Springs and sits at 6,400 feet, which is about 1,951 meters above sea level. It offers 1,300 acres of sandstone formations that are 300 feet tall.

In the backdrop, you’ll see beautiful views of Pikes Peak and the blue skies. Garden of the Gods Park is a unique biological place and is also a registered National Natural Landmark.

5. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Located in southern Colorado, and about 2 hours and 30 minutes south of Colorado Springs is Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

It’s open 24 hours a day, and year-round, so you can go anytime to see North America’s tallest dunes.

There are huge wind-shaped dunes that are nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The best times to go are early in the morning, later in the evening, or on a cool day because it can get really hot.

The surface of the sand can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and -5 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. It also has occasional snow and blizzards in the winter, so make a plan when you’re visiting the dunes.

6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located on the western side of Colorado.

It offers scenic views of the Gunnison River and the Painted Wall, which is the highest cliff in Colorado.

When you’re visiting, it’s important to know that the park is separated into a North Rim and South Rim.

There aren’t any roads or bridges that connect the two. Both, have one access point from the highway, and going from one to the other can take more than 2 hours.

Black Canyon National Park is one of the most breathtaking places in the U.S. because of the deep and steep canyons. You won’t find many guardrails, which makes it feel rustic.

7. Aspen, Vail, or Breckenridge

Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge are excellent locations in Colorado for a winter experience.

All three places are west of Denver and are known for ski resorts. Although skiing isn’t the only reason to visit, it’s the main attraction for all three locations.

Overall, Aspen is more upscale, and it’s evident in the people that go there.

Breckenridge is more laidback, offers good skiing, and more affordable lodging. Vail has a charming village and is also more upscale than Breckenridge.

Regardless of the location you choose, try skiing or snowboarding because it’s one of the best ways to spend a winter getaway. Instead of staying home and hibernating, you can make the most of the winter.

8. Denver Art Museum

Address: 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) well-curated and has amazing architecture. It’s one of the largest museums between Chicago and the West Coast. It represents more than 70,000 works of art from around the world.

Tickets can range from $8 to $13. However, members and people under 18 years old can enter for free.

9. Denver Zoo

Address: 2300 Steele St, Denver, CO 80205

The Denver Zoo opened in 1896 and is an 80-acre campus. There are plenty of animals that you can see from all parts of the world, and it’s a great place to take a family.

10. White River National Forest

White River National Forest is located in northwestern Colorado. It encompasses 2.3 million acres, has 11 ski resorts, 8 wilderness areas, and 10 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet. If you’re a hiker, you can also enjoy the 2,500 miles of hiking trails.

It’s an excellent location that offers many options. You’ll get scenic views everywhere you go, and be sure to catch a sunset over the mountains.

More resources:

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Travel, the destination for travel advice and inspiration. He launched Nola & Luna Travel to share expert advice, useful tips, unbiased reviews, and inspiration about destinations across the globe.