Top Can’t Miss Colorado Summer Vacation

Colorado Summer Vacation

A Colorado summer vacation is all about celebrating and enjoying the great outdoors, and with 300+ days of sunshine, it’s easy to have the perfect day in Colorado. Experience one of the many stunning Rocky Mountain sunsets, races and contests, unrivaled outdoor concert venues, food and wine festivals, golfing, horse riding, hiking, rafting, and more as you travel through Colorado. Don’t forget the sunscreen and lots of water. Learn more about Colorado summer vacation planning and trip ideas.

Top 10 Can’t-miss Colorado Summer Vacation - things to do

  1. Whitewater Rafting - rafting in Colorado is a favorite summer vacation activity. There are floats for every kind of friend or family adventure. Raft the Royal Gorge and experience class-V rapids as the Arkansas River carries you under the Royal Gorge Bridge. Head west to Salida to catch their annual Fibark Festival and see what the fuss is about. Raft through Brown’s Canyon National Monument, or head north with the kiddos to raft the Colorado River with smaller rapids but plenty of fun. Local’s Tip: water is highest in the spring and early summer as the snow melts off the mountains to fill our Rivers. Book early for an adrenaline-filled adventure, or wait until later in the summer to take the kids on a mellow float.
  2. Off-road tours - it wouldn’t be a Summer vacation without an off-road tour. Colorado is full of old mining and logging roads waiting to be explored. Traveling along these two-track trails is a thrill. The mountain vistas and sightseeing along the way are fantastic. Ouray and the Royal Gorge Region are hot spots for off-road tours. You can find reputable tour companies or even rent a jeep in these locations. However, we recommend leaving the technical driving to a seasoned expert so you can enjoy the sights.Colorado summer Ouray off-road
  3. Scenic Train Rides - Spend the day riding the rails, taking in the scenery, and learning about Colorado’s history. Colorado has several scenic train rides to choose from. These narrow gauge railroads are restorations of trains from the old mining days when the only way through the mountains for people and ore was via train. These train rides are full of old historical tales, your choice of fare and food, and some even offer mine exploration for the kiddos.
  4. Natural Hot Springs - Colorado is blessed with natural hot springs. If you have never soaked in one of these hot springs, you definitely need to add it to your bucket list. Some of these natural springs have been developed into full-service spas and retreats that offer massage services, lodging, restaurant services, and other amenities. In comparison, other hot springs remain more primitive and can only be accessed on foot or are just not developed at all. However you choose to experience a natural hot spring, please check out our Hot Springs Guide for complete details.Iron Mountain summer vacation
  5. Kayaking or StandUp Paddleboarding - These popular modes will keep you fit and smiling on white or flat water. Test your balance while SUPing one of our top picks for paddleboarding. Marinas often offer rentals by the hour or the day. Follow the shoreline to stay away from any boat wake. Pack a snack and picnic with your dog on the islands you’ve only seen from a distance. Local’s tip: Go early in the day before the winds kick up!
  6. Sailing and Motorboating—It’s often overlooked, but Colorado has many large lakes and reservoirs that are big enough for sailing and/or motorboats. Some lakes cater to both, while others allow sailing but not motorboats. And, yes, waterskiing and jet skis are allowed where motorboats are permitted. Learn more about Colorado’s marinas. Many of these, but not all marinas, are at State Parks.
  7. Fishing - To many, Colorado means fishing. With over 322 miles of Gold Medal fishing waters and even more mountain streams and lakes teeming with Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat, and Brook Trout to explore, it’s hard to go wrong.
  8. Adventure Parks - You might consider Colorado an adventure park, which it is, but to make things even more thrilling (and safe), we recommend checking out a Colorado-style adventure park. These Colorado parks combine mountain and man-made features in safe, fun environments. Scale a mountainside canyon, bounce and flip on a fully outfitted trampoline, zipline across mountain canyons, take a gondola ride, or ride a mountain coaster through the alpine forest, and the list goes on.
  9. Hiking - A  summer vacation would not be complete without hiking, and hiking trails are around every corner. You can find everything from lazy strolls to multi-day backpacking adventures. Great hikes can be taken from Denver, or check out the list of recommended family hikes.colorado summer vacation - mountain bike park
  10. Mountain or Road Biking - Colorado boasts 26 scenic byways, with views to take your breath away if the altitude doesn’t get you first. Pound the miles as you tackle Independence Pass between Leadville and Aspen, or watch for wildlife as you pedal over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain Nation Park. If you prefer dirt under your tires, visit one of the many lift-accessed bike parks, like Keystone Resort or Crested Butte Mountain Resorts. There are also thousands of miles of singletrack around the state. Wait for the snow to melt and experience high alpine rides in Summit County this Colorado summer during July, August, and September. Local’s tip: Stick to the road after its rained. Our dirt dries fast, but if you ride when it’s wet, your knobby tires will do significant damage.

Planning Your Summer Vacation

With so many activities, interesting places to visit, and sights to see, strategic planning is a good idea to make the most of your time. Learn more about the summer season and find our best recommendations for planning your vacation.

by Kathleen Fitzsimmons

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