Colorado is known for its famous Rocky Mountains and is a year-round destination that boasts spectacular national parks, forests, gold-rush ghost towns and Native American ruins. The state has an impressive count of 54 mountains over 4,267m (14,000ft).
The capital, Denver, is the gateway to numerous ski resorts and is home to many museums, parks, gardens and a restored Victorian square. Located at 1,609m (5,280ft) above sea level, on high rolling plains at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is known as the Mile High City and is the largest city within a 1,000km (625-mile) radius. Founded as a gold-mining camp in 1859, Denver was the centre of the Old West, filled with wagon trains, cowboys, Native Americans, gamblers and gunfighters.
Things To See & Do
Explore the 16th Street Mall, a tree-lined promenade in the heart of the city, running between downtown Denver and Union Station. Popular with shoppers, it is always alive with pedestrians, cafes, street performers and fountains.
Cheer American football team, the Denver Broncos (www.denverbroncos.com) to victory at Invesco Field, Mile High Stadium.
View the plains from Colorado National Monument (www.nps.gov/colm), west of Grand Junction, an area of fantastic red rock canyons, monoliths, pillars and cliffs. Dinosaur National Monument (www.nps.gov/dino) in Colorado’s northwest corner, is a plateau cut by two rivers and home to one of the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur and reptile fossils.
View the Denver skyline from the Colorado State Capitol, with its spectacular genuine gold roof and sweeping views over the city and the Rockies.
Tour the Coors Brewery at Golden and sample the famous beer made from Rocky Mountain spring water.
Wander through the Denver Botanic Gardens (www.botanicgardens.org), boasting water gardens, a Japanese garden, a rock alpine garden and conservatory housing a collection of orchids and bromeliads.
Hike, bike or horse ride around the dramatically sculpted red sandstone pinnacles of the Garden of the Gods (www.gardenofthegods.com), a National Natural Monument.
Soak in the world’s largest natural hot springs pool at Glenwood Springs (www.hotspringspool.com), surrounded by soaring mountain peaks.
Visit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (www.nps.gov/grsa), with some of the highest inland sand dunes in North America.
Explore Rocky Mountain National Park (www.nps.gov/romo) and the resort village of Estes Park (www.estesparkresort.com). The Trail Ridge Road, one of the highest continuous highways in North America, is strung with massive peaks, rugged canyons, flower-strewn meadows, peaceful lakes and thundering waterfalls.
Tour Indian cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park (www.nps.gov/meve), in the high plateau country of southwestern Colorado, 56km (35 miles) west of Durango. The 21,044-hectare (52,000-acre) park, a World Heritage Site, contains dramatic Anasazi culture’s cliff dwellings built over 700 years ago (www.nps.gov/meve).
Follow the path of early traders and stagecoaches along the Santa Fe Trail (www.santafetrailscenicandhistoricbyway.org), now designated a National Historic Trail, which is dotted with historic trading posts. Step back in time exploring St Elmo’s, Colorado’s best-preserved ghost town built around a mining camp in Chalk Creek Canyon.
Drive the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (www.nps.gov/blca). It preserves the most spectacular 19km (12-mile) stretch of the 85km (53-mile) gorge carved by the Gunnison River. A paved road circles the rim of the canyon, at some points nearly half a mile deep.
Travel on the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway (www.cograilway.com) offering views of the Continental Divide from the 4,300m (14,110ft) summit of Pikes Peak. Or ride the scenic Royal Gorge Railway in Cañon City (www.canoncitycolorado.com), then experience the thrill of whitewater rafting down the Arkansas River.
Ski the Rocky Mountains (www.nps.gov/romo), renowned the world over for unparalleled skiing, quaint mountain towns, world-class accommodation and spectacular scenery. Aspen (www.aspenchamber.org) is America’s most sophisticated ski resort, offering a full range of winter and summer activities and countless restaurants and shops. Ski or snowboard in Summit County, home to the popular ski resorts of Keystone (www.keystone.snow.com) (with the longest ski season in the state), Arapahoe Basin (www.arapahoebasin.com), Copper Mountain (www.coppercolorado.com) and Breckenridge (www.breckenridge.snow.com).
Try your hand at fly fishing, float over mountain vistas in a hot air balloon, or go tubing on the Yampa River in the popular western-style town of Steamboat Springs (www.steamboat-chamber.com). In winter hit the ski slopes for unforgettable champagne powder snow.
See the US Mint, the second-largest storehouse of gold bullion in the USA after Fort Knox in Kentucky (www.usmint.gov).