National Parks
Skiing in Colorado
© Catherine Yeulet

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado are home to some of the best ski resorts in the world.

Colorado Attractions

Denver, the Mile High City

Denver is located on the high plains of central Colorado at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountain range. It is a large modern city with diverse entertainment, sports and cultural attractions as well as many shopping opportunities. Red Rocks Park, just west of the city, has a spectacular natural amphitheater carved into the dramatic rock formations. During the summer months, you can drive from Idaho Springs, about 50 miles east of Denver, to the summit of 14,000 feet Evans Peak along the highest paved road in North America.

Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak

Colorado Springs is located about 70 miles south of Denver near the base of 14,110 feet high Pikes Peak. The Garden of the Gods, in the western suburbs, contains some spectacular rock formations including a huge balancing rock. The city is home to the Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame, the US Air Force Academy, a museum of Anasazi Indian culture, and a Ghost Town museum. Suburban Manitou Springs has a refurbished old west flavor with many restaurants and unique shops as well as a cog-wheeled train that ascend to the summit of Pikes Peak. A partially paved road to the summit of the peak begins a few miles west of the city.

Old West gold and silver towns

Many "boom towns" sprouted in the Rocky Mountains when gold and silver was discovered in the 19th century. When the mines became depleted, most of the new towns died and now exist only as ghost towns. The surviving mine towns still resemble the old western towns you might see in a cowboy movie. Drive 50 - 70 miles west of Denver to visit Idaho Springs, Georgetown and Silver Plume where the houses and shops have been restored to their old western glory!

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde © Andreas F. Borchert / ShareAlike 3.0
Park rangers at Mesa Verde National Park give tours of the Cliff Palace, during which visitors explore the ancient dwellings and learn the history and culture of the Anaszazi Tribe.

Mesa Verde is the most important Native American archeological site in the US

Mesa Verde National Park is the best place to see a preserved Native American city. This area was populated by the Anasazi tribe and has many ruins of their ancient dwellings. The rangers provide tours of the cliff-side palaces, which are an inexpensive way to learn about the history and culture of the tribe. Mesa Verde also is a good place for day hikes and scenic drives.

Colorado ski and snowboard country

The fabulous ski country of Colorado with its "Champagne Powder Snow" is located in the central Rocky Mountains about 75 - 100 miles west or Denver and Colorado Springs. See our Ski Colorado page for more details!

Hiking, backpacking and camping in the Rockies

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado contain many National and State Parks plus extensive wilderness areas with thousands of miles of well-maintained trails. Wilderness adventures such as hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, horseback riding and wilderness camping are favorite attractions in Colorado. You will find outfitters, guides and horse stables in many mountain towns. The trails on the "Front Range" are within a few hours drive from Denver or Colorado Springs and may become crowded on summer weekends. The trails farther west are more isolated and less utilized.

Mountain climbing and white water adventure

The Rockies provide many locations suitable for mountain trekking, mountain climbing and rock climbing. There are 54 peaks in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet in height. They are known as "the fourteeners" and climbing them is a popular pastime in Colorado. Some routes require no technical climbing skills just a lot of stamina and perseverance. Other routes are challenging to the most skilled mountaineers. The rivers and mountain streams offer tough challenges for rafting and kayaking.

Scenic drives and back roads

The scenery is beautiful along every road in the Rocky Mountains and some of the less traveled roads are spectacular. The drive through Rocky Mountain National Park takes you past herds of elk and moose plus some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. With a four-wheeled-drive vehicle and a good map, you can attempt to negotiate one of the many back roads into the wilderness of Colorado. Some of these "jeep roads" lead to abandoned ghost towns.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Ken Canning
Photo Description: Aspen trees explode with fall colors beneath snow covered peaks in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.