30 Ways to Experience Summer in Colorado
Long sunny days, serene lakes and forests, waterfalls and wildflowers, festivals filled with every kind of food and music you could ask for and so many outdoor adventures that you’ll wish there were more hours in the day. Here are 30 experiences to help you make the most of the season.
Choose from mellow family hikes to hardcore multi-day treks along trails lacing 42 state parks, four national parks, 13 national forests and dozens of 14ers (peaks topping 14,000 feet).
2. Road Tripping
Discover red rock formations, deep canyons, lush woodlands, Front Range fun, wild rivers and unbelievable vistas along Colorado’s 26 scenic and historic byways.
3. Rock Climbing
Eldorado Canyon, Estes Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Canon City are all excellent climbing destinations with outfitters on tap to show you the ropes.
Summer is prime for waterfall viewing. Head to Steamboat Springs’ Fish Creek Falls, Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park or famous Bridal Veil Falls near Telluride for freefalling wonders.
Landlocked Colorado serves up an impressive number of sandy spots. Try Blue Mesa Reservoir (the state’s largest body of water), Chatfield State Park and Grand Lake for beautiful indigo waters.
6. Horseback Riding
Saddle up for a taste of the Wild West at one of Colorado’s dude ranches or family-owned stables.
7. Whitewater Rafting
Colorado is known for epic river rafting, with guided trips spanning half-day to multi-day, mild to extreme. The Arkansas River, Cache la Poudre River and the Colorado River never disappoint.
Road to mountain to downhill, whichever type of wheels you prefer, Colorado has designated terrain to keep you pedaling.
Pick up Colorado-made jewelry, woodwork, clothing, gear and souvenirs from locally owned boutiques and retailers.
Rustic, riverside tent sites, fully equipped RV grounds, private yurts and cabins—Colorado is built for nights under the stars.
Cast into ample rivers and lakes with a fly or reel rod and see if you can pull in one of Colorado’s legendary rainbow, cutthroat or brown trout.
Do those little white balls fly farther in the thin mountain air? Find out at gorgeous courses in Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, Wolcott and beyond.
Aerial adventure parks dot the state, providing plentiful opportunities to soar between mountains and over dramatic landscapes.
Nearly two dozen naturally healing hot springs occur in Colorado, many combining plush lodging and spa treatments with the relaxing pools.
15. Ride the Rails
Train rides in Leadville, Georgetown, Durango, Cripple Creek and more put riders in the middle of iconic scenic and historic backdrops.
Pontoon across high alpine lakes, discover placid sailing stretches and motorboat around wide reservoirs.
Flat-water lake paddling or whitewater river wrangling, Colorado spools out miles of kayaking excitement.
18. Jeeping and Four-Wheeling
Access some of Colorado’s most rugged and remote terrain on an off-roading excursion.
19. Breweries and Distilleries
Cheers the state’s many talented brewers and distillers on a tour culminating in a tasting or taproom.
20. Farmers Markets
Bountiful harvests and handmade wares come to life at farmers markets statewide. Top summer market picks include Boulder, Vail and Pueblo.
21. Adventure Parks
These man-made attractions combine nature and adrenaline-focused activities such as ropes courses, high-flying rides and scenic trams.
22. Outdoor Concerts
Colorado draws big-name artists while nurturing homegrown talent. Find everything from country to indie on stages as large as Red Rocks Amphitheatre and as intimate as Planet Bluegrass.
23. National and State Parks
Colorado’s 42 state parks and 10 national parks and monuments are jam-packed with camping, fishing, hiking, water sports and plenty of room to roam.
View fossils and see where these massive creatures once wandered at Dinosaur National Monument, Florissant Fossil Beds and Fruita’s Dinosaur Journey Museum.
25. Catch a Game
Pro sports teams light up summer evenings. Head to Coors Field to see MLB’s Colorado Rockies and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for Colorado Rapids soccer matches.
26. Water Parks
Hot summer days call for thrill rides and big splashes. Hit Elitch Gardens and Water World in Denver, Pirates Cove in Littleton, The Splash at Fossil Trace in Golden and more.
Colorado fests revolve around music, food, beer and wine. Don’t miss Crested Butte’s Wildflower Festival, the Colorado Brewers’ Festival in Fort Collins, Telluride Blues and Brews and the Taste of Colorado in Denver.
28. Hot Air Ballooning
Take to the sky on a balloon ride with outfitters in Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Longmont and Lafayette.
Small town round-ups and nationally recognized competitions, Colorado’s rodeo scene is one of the best.
30. Endurance Competitions
High mountain passes, winding trails and a built-in uber-athlete population make this home to highly sought marathons, triathlons, biking and long-distance running events.