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Colorado Vacation Ideas

Vacation Planning Ideas

Colorado Vacation Ideas

You're ready to do some vacation planning. You could really use a break, and you've seen pictures of Colorado's majestic landscapes reaching 2 miles into the American sky. This is someplace you'd like to see and experience. It would take a few lifetimes to see, enjoy, experience, feel, and reach all of what Colorado offers. So, we're here to help you with your Colorado vacation planning and the best way to maximize your time while in Colorado.

Create Your Vacation Plan

With so much going on in Colorado it’s best to identify your vacation passion and the passions of the group or other person you are traveling with. Here is a list of considerations to help you get the best Colorado vacation experience.

Summer Vacation Planning vacation planning scenic train

What summer Colorado activities are a priority for you and your group? Start by identifying the primary activity and prioritizing from there.

    • Perhaps your bucket list includes visiting an adventure park, a scenic train ride, a hot springs visit, zip lining, getting a hike or two in, and rafting.  Wow, that’s ambitious but it can be done. Once again, staying in a region like the Royal Gorge area can serve this up. If you look closely, you will find companies that even sell combinations of experiences in one day.

    • If you're planning a backpacking trip. You will want to select a region, such as the Rocky Moutain National Park, and just stay there.

    • If day hiking is more your thing. You will get the most hiking in by exploring a region versus trying to travel all over the state, but some travel is realistic.

Are you planning to tour the state? Will you need lodging or will you be camping along the way?

    • Summer tourist season in Colorado is popular. If you’re planning on camping, tent camping or RV camping, you will need to plan ahead. Reservations at public campgrounds are necessary, especially during “peak season”.

Identify what “other” activities are important.

Winter Vacation Planning

Will your winter vacation be at a ski resort?snowboarder vacation planning

    • There are 25 ski areas in Colorado, not including cross-country ski touring centers.  First, understand the abilities and expectations of your group. Then investigate your options for what they offer, type of terrain, expense, apres ski activities, and more.

    • There are other resort options besides ski resort towns. Many guest ranches stay open in the winter and offer a variety of winter activities. This is true for out-of-the-way cabin rentals and some of the natural hot spring resorts.

Are all members of your group skiers, or are there snowboarders too?

    • If you’re vacationing with a mix of skiers and snowboarders, as well as ability level. It’s best to closely examine the resorts with terrain parks and a mix of blue and expert-level ski runs. The larger resorts will have the most options.

Does your group want to travel to different resort destinations or stay at a specific resort?

    • If touring different resorts is what you have in mind. Staying in the Central part of Colorado is by far the most efficient. As all these resorts can be traveled to by car in a few hours. Or, skip the winter driving around, stay at a designated resort, and focus on your fun there.

Is vacationing on a budget a concern?

    • If being budget-minded is part of your vacation. Try planning your trip during the “off-season” or not “peak-season” times. Check out lesser-known resorts. In either case, you should be able to find deals on lift tickets and lodging.

Are off-slope activities appealing, such as shopping, dining, spas, events, or alternative activities?

    • If your group needs alternative activities. The bigger resorts will have the most varied selection of activities to choose from. However, popular attractions like winter scenic train ridesnatural hot springs, and guided tours such as snowmobiling or sleigh rides are not necessarily at the resort. Check out “other attractions” first and then decided on the resort to stay at.

Colorado's Endless List of Vacation Options

Colorado offers an almost endless list of vacation options. The first step is to understand if you want to tour around or stay in one place. Either has much to offer. However, touring the state will require more vacation planning. Please use our free vacation planning itinerary tool. This will help you keep track of the sights and experiences you don’t want to miss. Plus, organize your lodging and travel routes along the way.

Staying put at that special place in Colorado is also a good way to spend your vacation. With so much to explore in any given region of the State, it might make more sense for you just to find lodging in a favorite place and base all your activities on that location. In either case, feel free to request some of our free visitor guides, and use our free itinerary tool to help organize all the activities, keep the dates and times handy, and make your vacation more relaxing.
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Snowy Colorado Mountains

Colorado Destinations

Unique Colorado Destination

Colorado’s cities and towns are as diverse and beautiful as its landscape. 

From the culturally rich city of Denver to the quiet mountain escape of Aspen. Colorado has a vacation destination for everyone. Are the high mountain peaks calling your name? Get to know Colorado and plan your trip to check off everything in your bucket list. Rafting, skiing, hiking, art shows, concerts, mountain biking, cycling, dinning, fishing, mountain retreats, exploring nature, and much more. Coloradoinfo.com has divided Colorado into 3 regions. Each of these regions represents unique characteristics and proximity.

View our interactive regional map of Colorado to take a closer look and find the locations you want to visit.
Order a free Colorado vacation planning guide to help find the perfect vacation spot!

The Central Mountains 

The heart of the Rocky Mountains spans the state north to south, and is home to the highest elevated cities and towns in the country, which feature over two dozen ski resorts. This region is Colorado’s gem for world-famous ski areas, mountain lifestyle, and activities. 

The Rockies Playground, recently named by the Colorado Tourism Office, is the most central region of the Rocky Mountains and includes some of Colorado’s most famous resort towns. Due to their close proximity and popularity as ski resorts, the name was chosen to appeal to potential tourists. This region’s towns include Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Winter Park, Glenwood Springs, Dillon and Leadville. However, significant resort towns lie north and south of the playground region, including Steamboat Springs in north-central Colorado. Resort towns in south-central Colorado include: Crested Butte, Monarch, Del Norte, Powderhorn and Wolf Creek. The Central Mountains region captures almost all of the mountain towns north to south, aside from Telluride and Durango.

The Central Mountains region includes several spectacular national forests.national forest in Colorado

All of which include amazing mountain scenery, wildlife, trail systems, nearby camping and towns. From north to south:

 

The Front Range & Plains

A way of referring to how the plains of Colorado meet the eastern slope of the continental divide.

If you want to watch a broadway show or enjoy a museum exhibit, you will have the most options in the Front Range. The urban cities of Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs are well known for their performing arts, museums, and cultural festivals.

Front Range Mountain Attractions

The Front Range region includes notable attractions such as Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park

Pikes Peak, a whole family mountain attraction, lies just west of Colorado Springs. Featuring a scenic train, rafting, horseback riding and much more.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an amazing music venue in the foothills west of Denver.

 

Colorado’s Western Slope 

A general way of referring to Northwest and Southwest Colorado. 

The Western Slope is a much more remote experience. Grand Junction is the largest city in the area and is often referred to as a city with a small-town feel. This high plains region is rich in agriculture, canyonlands, and warmer weather. Offering up a distinctively unique variety of Colorado destinations. 

Northwest Colorado, or The Great West

Features of this area are the national parks such as Dinosaur National Park, the remote Brown’s Park, and the wild horses of the Sand Wash Basin. This area is popular with outdoor enthusiasts offering a variety of camping, RV parks, off-road vehicles, horseback riding, rafting, cycling and exploring in general. While the mountains are melting down, northwest Colorado is in full bloom.

Southwest Colorado, or The Mountain Mesas

Another very diverse region of Colorado with a mix of Colorado destinations and ski resort towns such as Telluride, and Durango. Complemented by Montrose, a very agricultural community but also rich with adventure. In the very southwest corner of Colorado is Cortez. Surrounded by big attractions such as  Mesa Verde National Park, Monument Valley . Cortez is also the gateway to the Four Corners and the Canyonlands of Utah

 

 

 

 

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Royal Gorge Region

Welcome to the Royal Gorge Region

The Royal Gorge Region, is a great vacation choice among many beautiful and fun Colorado destinations. Base your adventure in Cañon City, the “Climate Capital of Colorado”! Where it is warmer, dryer and sunnier than Colorado Springs and Denver. Close and convenient, but without the crowds and traffic that can overwhelm other popular destinations.

Request a FREE visitors guide or email about the Royal Gorge Region.

AttractionsRoyal Gorge Region

Families and visitors of all ages will find there are loads of options to enjoy the area’s amazing scenery or participate in some real Colorado fun,

Many visitors consider the Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River the finest natural assets. America’s top destination for whitewater rafting and anglers relish the fact that it is the country’s longest stretch of Gold Medal Trout water. The trail networks offer something for every ability level, whether on foot or a bicycle. Up for a challenge? Check out mountain bike trails or world-class rock climbing. Try the exhilarating experience of ziplining across the gorge, plus classic and extreme courses above treetops and canyons.

Downtown Cañon City

Don’t forget to visit the region’s museums, history and heritage sites. Downtown Cañon City and Florence are both hidden gems offering quaint, locally-owned shops, farmer’s markets, restaurants, breweries, and annual festivals. Learn about dinosaurs that roamed this land 150 million years ago through outstanding indoor and outdoor exhibits and interpretive trails. Check out the Royal Gorge Dinosaur experience just north of Canon City. They have all kinds of fun for the kids including interactive exhibits.

Plan more than a day to experience all the Royal Gorge Region has to offer. The recommendation is to spend at least a night, or more. Options include hotels, motels, cabins, B&B’s, full-service and forest campgrounds, or even glamping! Enjoy your visit! Cañon City looks forward to welcoming you to the attractions and activities that await in the Royal Gorge Region. Safe travels.

Fremont County Tourism Council

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Colorado Winter

Colorado Winter

Colorado's central location and 25 world-class ski resorts attract skiers and snowboarders from around the world. With convenient non-stop flights, regional airports, discount travel packages, and other means of getting around the mountains, snow enthusiasts are quickly placing Colorado at the top of their must-visit lists. Colorado's ski areas span the state, covering more than 40,000 acres of terrain beginning at the sky-scraping Continental Divide and unfolding north, south and west deep into the Centennial State's majestic mountain ranges. Learn more about skiing and snowboarding in Colorado. Colorado's world-renowned resorts and accommodating ski towns beckon travelers of all backgrounds, ages and interests, with every ski resort offering something different. From the family of four looking for lessons and a laid-back day on groomed runs to the hardcore backcountry hike-it crowd, there's a resort that will exceed expectations
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Colorado Summer

Colorado Summer

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. 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 much more as you travel through Colorado. Don’t forget the sunscreen and lots of water.

Request a FREE Summer Travel Guide

Top 10 Can’t-miss Colorado Summer Activities

1. Whitewater Rafting

Rafting in Colorado is our favorite can’t-miss chance for fun. 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 a little further 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 Colorado summer to take the kids on a mellow float.

colorado summer - mountain bike park

2. 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 out the miles as you tackle Independence pass between Leadville and Aspen, or watch for wildlife as you pedal over Trail Ride 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 manage.

3. Horseback Riding

Colorado’s “wild west” roots live on, with many ranches offering horseback rides for the whole family. Saddle up, head into the plains, or over the trails to expansive vistas. If you bring your own horses, many trails outside of Denver are horse-friendly. Durango has an active equestrian culture with many trails and ride opportunities!

4. Ziplining & Aerial Parks

Fly over canyons and zip over rivers. Ziplining is an activity growing in popularity for good reason – It is so much fun for every age! Race your friends in a dual slalom race to the finish while your family cheers from below! Then test your balance on the aerial parks with rope ladders, wooden platforms, and balance beams. Both activities utilize 4-point harnesses to keep everyone safe and having fun. Local’s tip: Book a package of ½ day of zipline, followed by ½ day a the aerial park, which many times includes lunch for everyone!

5. Golfing

There are over 250 golf courses in Colorado, with many that are playable year-round! The thin air in Colorado lets your ball fly further than at sea-level, so don’t let a 144 slope make you nervous. Colorado Spring’s Castle Pine’s Golf Club has hosted PGA golf tours on its Jack Nicklaus-designed course and is always rated one of the best courses in the country. Cañon City and Pueblo are in the “banana belt” of Colorado and have courses open all year. Local’s tip: Many courses offer reduced greens fees for last-minute tee times, so don’t stress if you want to play a late 9-hole after lunch.

6. Rock Climbing

Pack the chalk back on your sticky shoes! Garden of the Gods or the Boulder Flat Irons are popular spots near Denver for multiple routes and a variety of difficulty. The town of Rifle has some of the best limestone climbing areas in the country with near-by camping sites. Not to far from Rifle is another climbing hot spot: Black Canyon of the Gunnison which has over 140 documented routes up the canyon walls for experienced climbers. Local’s Tip: Make it a real Colorado Adventure by hiking or biking into your route.

7. Soaking in Hot Springs

When you’re ready for real relaxation, Colorado’s natural hot springs await you. Try a rustic hike-to Radium Hot Springs near Kremmling, where you can wave to the passing kayakers and rafters on the Colorado River. Or if you prefer a more spa-like retreat, head west to Glenwood Springs for various hot springs and vapor cave options!

8. Scenic Train Rides

Spend the day riding the rails and taking in the scenery. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad winds through spectacular & breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest for an unforgettable adventure aboard original 1880s steam engine trains. Local’s tip: Take the train to Silverton, but then take the bus back over Red Mountain Pass to spend more time in Silverton AND Durango.

9. Fishing

Colorado has 6,000 miles of streams and more than 1,300 lakes and reservoirs to choose from, including many sections of gold medal fishing waters. Float the Colorado or wade into the Blue River for your best chance to catch a prized trout or salmon. Check in with a local outfitter to get the best flys and lures for the area, and don’t forget your fishing license! Local’s tip: Book a guided trip to really get insider information from a local.

10. Kayaking or StandUp Paddle boarding

These popular modes will keep you fit and smiling on white or flat water. Test your balance while SUPing on Dillon Reservoir. Marinas in Frisco and Dillon 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!

Other Popular Colorado Summer Activities

by Kathleen Fitzsimmons

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