Colorado Top 20 Attractions

The beautiful state of Colorado delivers an incredible visitor experience for all tourists with lots of attractions to explore. There’s something for everyone in Colorado – from the natural landscapes showcasing impressive mountain peaks, red rock formations, to adrenaline fun for the entire family.

You’ll discover some of the best sights and places to visit in Colorado outside of the major city hubs. If you’re ready for some adventure, explore these top 20 must-visit Colorado attractions.

1: Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/snowpeak

This Colorado Springs attraction gets visitors from over 60 countries every year. The Garden of the Gods Park covers 1,367 acres and is a National Natural Landmark containing pinon-juniper woodlands from the American Southwest and grasslands from the Great Plains.

The gorgeous landmarks and rock formations are the results of 300 million years' worth of geological history.

Be sure to stop by the visitor center before entering the park as you will find snacks as well as maps and information telling you which trails will give you the best views of nearby Pikes Peak and the rest of the park.

Address: 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Accomodation: Where to stay near Garden of the Gods

Website: www.gardenofgods.com

2: Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/daveynin

The name of Mesa Verde means "green table" in Spanish and the area shows visitors what it was like to live in this Ancestral Pueblo. It was occupied between 600 and 1300 AD and today you can find almost 5,000 archaeological sites within the park, a figure which includes 600 cliff dwellings, which are some of the best-preserved in the country.

You can go on tours of the Cliff Palace and even in the wintertime, visitors to Mesa Verde have plenty of opportunities for adventure with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the gorgeous snow-covered trails.

Address: Mesa Verde, CO 81330

Accomodation: Where to stay near Mesa Verde National Park

Website: www.nps.gov

Also Read: Top 10 Things To Do In Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

3: Vail Ski Resort

Vail Ski Resort
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Connor Walberg

Vail is widely known as the top ski resort in North America, bringing visitors from around the world to enjoy the legendary Back Bowls. This ski resort is known for its clear blue skies, mountain wall spanning seven miles, and 5,289 acres of three areas that let skiers of all levels enjoy the outdoors and beautiful scenery.

You don't have to worry about finding the right place to stay while in Vail as there are plenty of lodging options ranging from budget-friendly to luxurious resorts.

There is even a school for skiing and snowboarding if you want to learn. While at Vail Ski Resort, be sure to visit Vail Village as well for European sophistication mixed with mountain charm.

Address: Vail, CO 81657

Accomodation: Where to stay in Vail

Also Read: Top 10 Ski Resorts in the USA

4: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the best Colorado attractions for those who love old rock formations as it has some of the oldest rocks as well as craggiest spires and steepest cliffs within North America.

Over the past two million years, the Gunnison River has worked to create this gorgeous vertical attraction. You can find hiking trails around the rim of the canyon with options for all abilities and adventure levels. If you are up for adventure, try going camping or take the strenuous hike to the river.

Address: 102 Elk Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230

Accomodation: Where to stay near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Website: www.nps.gov

5: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/markbyzewski

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has been a popular attraction in the city for more than 100 years. Here you'll find an excellent planetarium as well as an IMAX theater with fun, educational films for the whole family to enjoy.

This museum is designed to keep children entertained while they learn with areas such as the Discovery Zone and Expedition Health.

Adults will also enjoy the exhibitions that explore cultures, prehistory, gems, space, wildlife, and more. You even get the chance to touch real fossils during your visit.

Address: 2001 Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80205

Accomodation: Where to stay in Denver

Website: www.dmns.org

Also Read: Denver, Colorado Top 10 Attractions

6: Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/wdayton

Maroon Bells are considered the peaks that are most photographed throughout North America. The gorgeous 14,000-foot peaks are surrounded by Maroon Lake and beautiful wildflowers. You don't have to pay anything to access Maroon Bells via non-motorized transport, whether you are hiking, biking, rollerblading, or doing something else.

Instead of driving it is usually more convenient to take a bus tour, which you can find plenty of during the summer. Even if getting there is sometimes complicated, the journey is well worth it.

Address: Aspen Highlands, End of Maroon Creek Road, Aspen, CO

Accomodation: Where to stay near Maroon Bells

7: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

Inside the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, you will find the tallest dunes in the continent along with tundra, alpine lakes, aspen and conifer forests, wetlands, and grasslands.

This national park is the perfect place for nearly any outdoor activity, including sand sledding, wildlife watching, and hiking. You can even enjoy the water in Medano Creek, have a picnic, participate in a free ranger program, or spend the night camping.

Address: 11999 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO 81146

Accomodation: Where to stay near Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Website: www.nps.gov

8: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/mark byzewski

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is actually the only mountain zoo in the country and to make it stand out even more, you will find one of the biggest herds of giraffes in the world. At approximately 6,714 feet and 140 acres this zoo is both an adventure and an attraction.

This zoo is one of the most popular attraction in Colorado for all walks of tourists. Everyone from children to seniors and everything in between will find something to marvel at here.

And if you come on a week day (Monday through Thursday) then you even get a discount! Adults pay $19.75, and children (3-11) $14.75. Otherwise for Friday through Sunday, the adult price is $24.75, and for children $19.75.

Another great focal point to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is education and engagement. This zoo really values its animals as more than just exhibits. They have rigorous programs and protocols they maintain to keep their animals both happy and healthy.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo even has a unique focus titled ‘EdVenture’ which mixes all the fun of adventure with the importance of education. Don’t just visit a zoo, but really and truly learn from it. At the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you’re sure to experience a visit like no other.

Address: 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Accomodation: Where to stay in Colorado Springs

Website: www.cmzoo.org

Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Colorado Springs, Colorado

9: Elitch Gardens Theme Park

Elitch Gardens Theme Park

Elitch Gardens Theme Park is actually two theme parks in one, a water park and the typical one with rides. The theme park also hosts concerts, drive-in movies and more, providing family entertainment as long as the weather is nice.

When you visit the theme park, you will quickly see why it is the coaster capital of Colorado, with kid's rides, family rides, thrill rides, and everything in between. The water park is the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day, whether you want to swim, raft, or go on a thrill ride.

Address: 2000 Elitch Cir, Denver, CO 80204

Accomodation: Where to stay in Denver

Website: www.elitchgardens.com

Also Read: Denver, Colorado Top 10 Attractions

10: Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/vincrosbie

The great outdoors never seemed so great! Here at the Rocky Mountain National Park, visitors are literally raving about all there is to see and do. As a proud Colorado native, it is home to some of the most stellar views of the Rocky Mountains on this side of the divide.

The Park is spread over 355 miles of unforgettable hiking trails winding their way throughout the mountain. They are bordered on all sides by rich, lush Colorado vegetation and draw mass numbers of excited adventurers to its borders every year.

Aside from hiking, the Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a few other headlining adventures as well. Things such as mountain climbing, wildlife photography, horseback riding, camping, and even fishing! And if you want your vacation with a little more relaxation, then a grab a bench or picnic table and just enjoy the views.

There’s plenty to see here at the Rocky Mountain National Park! Be sure to plan ahead of time and save some time and money. Day passes into the park typically cost $25, whereas a seven-day pass costs $35 per vehicle. Get more park for what you pay, and stay for the week!

Address: 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, CO 80517

Accomodation: Where to stay near Rocky Mountain National Park

Website: www.nps.gov

11: Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway

Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/John Fowler

Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway is a heritage railroad attraction and National Historic Landmark in Colorado. The site takes visitors on a historical journey along the tracks to learn more about the legacy, see historical locomotives, and enjoy the scenic landscape.

The Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway was built in the late 1800s, extending between Durango and Silverton – it was used to transport gold ore and silver mined in the nearby San Juan Mountains.

A few decades after being decommissioned, the site opened the Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway (D&SNG) Museum and the Silverton Freight Yard.

The museums showcase former locomotives that traveled the railway. You’ll gain lots of insight into the historical significance of the railway and its impact on the local industries.

Visitors have a chance to ride along the railway on a functional train, one of the best-recommended experiences—the train travel between the towns, including an expert guide who provides historical commentary along the way. You’ll have incredible views of the wilderness and river canyons of the region.

You’ll arrive at the old western towns that have souvenir shops and restaurants to check out.

Address: Durango, CO

Website: www.durangotrain.com

Also Read: Most Scenic Train Trips in America

12: San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/flamouroux

The San Juan Skyway is one of the most prominent highways in the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway System. The road reveals some of the most scenic areas of Southwest Colorado and makes for a fun drive filled with sights and adrenaline.

San Juan Skyway extends for a 233-mile loop – the route consists of multiple highways: US Highway 160, State Highway 62, and US Highway 550 (called the Million Dollar Highway). Be sure to follow the signs along each of the highways to make the right exits to continue on the skyway route correctly.

The scenic byway’s popularity comes from the incredible views it offers for travelers along the routes. The extensive loop passes through a diverse set of landscapes showcasing the diversity of Colorado. You’ll see the San Juan Mountains and ride through several mountain passes.

Other sights include the Uncompahgre National Forest, rivers, and waterfalls; you’ll pass through western towns such as Ouray and Silverton, two former mining hubs.

At times, there are no guardrails, giving you a shock of adrenaline as you peer down the cliffs of the winding roads.

Address: 4201 E Arkansas Ave Colorado Scenic & Historic Byways, CO 80222

13: Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Shogun_X

The Mount Evans Scenic Byway takes you on a journey to the highest paved road on the continent. As you drive through the Mount Evans wilderness, be prepared for a wild ride, beautiful scenery, and lots of wildlife roaming the land.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is recognized as a National Forest Scenic Byway and a Colorado Scenic Byway. It’s a 28-mile long strip extending from the Idaho Springs Visitor Center to the Mount Evans summit.

Take some time to visit the visitor center, where you’ll get lots of information about the route and things to see along the way. As you begin the trip, you’ll pass through Interstate 70, State Highway 103, and State Highway 5.

The road itself makes for an exciting trip, with winding turns, ascending the mountainside, and some sections lacking guardrails to peer over the cliff drops.

Reaching the peak of Mount Evans is a rewarding ending to the byway. You’ll have incredible views of the landscape from the highest peak in the wilderness region.

Whether you decide to stop at the road’s shoulders along the route for photos or wait until the end, you’ll get to see one of the best scenic sights in Colorado.

Address: Denver, CO

Website: www.codot.gov

14: Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Matthew Dillon

Dinosaur National Monument preserved the land where dinosaurs used to roam. The national monument was a popular excavation site where dinosaur bones are discovered – it’s open to the public to witness evidence of the historical creatures in nature.

Dinosaur National Monument stretches across the Colorado-Utah border. It was discovered in the early 1900s, where it became a well-known site for excavating dinosaur bones – many species were found. It soon was declared a national monument in 1915 and opened to the public.

Today, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the site – one of the most popular features of the attraction is the Dinosaur Quarry. The Dinosaur Quarry is an enclosed section of rock called the “Wall of Bones.” Visitors can see and touch real dinosaur bones that were preserved in the sandstone rock. The fossils date back over 150 million years.

The quarry also features displays for learning about the dinosaurs and expert ranger guides.

In addition to the dinosaur attractions, visitors can also enjoy the preserved region by hiking. Many trails go through the diverse landscape, including the Uinta Mountains, Green River, and Yampa River.

Some hiking trails in the monument lead to petroglyphs, exhibiting evidence of early civilizations.

Address: 4545 Highway 40 Quarry Visitor Center, Dinosaur, CO 81610

Website: www.nps.gov

15: Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/wagon16

Bridal Veil Falls is a famous waterfall in Colorado . It will take a bit of hiking or off-roading to reach the falls, but the views are worth it once you arrive.

Bridal Veil Falls has an elevation of 365-feet, with water running from the San Miguel River. With its location high up in the mountains, it’s considered the highest waterfall in Colorado. The beautiful falls provide viewers with a cooling mist after making the journey to see it. You will have two vantage points of the falls – from the base or the top.

Hiking is the most common way to reach the falls, tucked away in the mountains. Take the Bridal Veil hike, and the scenic waterfall is only one of the many things to see on the trek. The trail extends through the mountain meadows, and you’ll also find the Blue Lake along the route.

You can view the Bridal Veil Falls at any time of the year. During the Spring and Autumn are great times to visit to avoid hiking in the strenuous heat – the hike to the falls can be steep. In the wintertime, the falls freeze, although ice climbing is currently prohibited.

Address: East Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO

16: Royal Gorge Bridge and Park

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/joevare

Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in Colorado – the highest bridge in the US and among the top-ranked in the world. The bridge extends more than 1,000-feet long to reach the opposite side and sits nearly 1,000-feet above the gorge floor.

The bridge was built in 1929, designed for vehicles and a pedestrian walkway. The suspension-style bridge was recently renovated and upgraded to its current appearance.

The architectural wonder also draws visitors to the several ride attractions at the site. One of the first rides built here was an incline to take passengers to the bottom of the gorge.

Now, the Royal Gorge Bridge is a theme park with lots of rides and other attractions. Two of the most popular rides are the Sky coaster, which allows you to swing over the edge of the gorge; and a zipline, a speedy way to cross the gorge to the other side.

Many of the theme park rides are designed to give you great views of the gorge. The site recently built a visitor center. Climb to the top onto the observation deck for a sweeping view of the site. You can also sit in the Plaza theater to see a documentary about the bridge's construction and park development.

Address: 4218 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212

Website: www.royalgorgebridge.com

17: Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Zach Dischner

A hike to the beautiful Hanging Lake is one of the top reasons people visit the Glenwood Canyon. Although the hike may be a bit strenuous due to the elevation, it’s more than worth it after arriving at one of the most scenic lakes in Colorado.

Hanging Lake is preserved as part of the White River National Forest – it’s also recognized as a National Natural Landmark. The lake has always been a favorite destination for hikers, but increased efforts have been issued recently for the protection of the lake ecosystem.

Hikers must have permits before beginning the hiking trail in the canyon – it’s the most popular route and a 1.6-mile journey up through the canyon. The high elevation and steep climb add a bit of a challenge to the hike.

The sight of Hanging Lake is a reward for completing the hike. Visitors are greeting with clear turquoise blue water with high visibility to see the lake floor and the fish living in it. There is a lake boardwalk for sitting and enjoying the view with two waterfall streams flowing into it.

Over 100,000 people visit the lake attraction every year, with an optional shuttle service for navigating to and from the lake.

Address: Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

18: Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

Buffalo Bill Cody was an iconic figure of the American West – the Buffalo Bill Museum commemorates him as well as a nearby gravesite where he is buried.

Travel to the top of Lookout Mountain just outside Denver to reach the summit where the museum is located. Views from the museum alone are worth the trip, but there’s still lots to discover about the legacy of Buffalo Bill inside.

The Buffalo Bill Museum exhibits the life and times of Buffalo Bill, a soldier, and showman. Upon entering the museum, you’ll get to watch a film documentary about his life. The museum showcases well-curated exhibits of various clothes worn by Buffalo Bill and even items from his personal collection. You can see his horse saddle, gun, paintings, vintage show posters, and more.

The museum even includes a kid’s area to dress up in Old West outfits.

The Buffalo Bill gravesite is located outside of the museum and free to view. The site includes Buffalo Bill and his wife.

The entire mountaintop showcases the life and death of Buffalo Bill Cody. You can take a piece of the experience home with you by shopping at the nearby gift shop.

Address: 987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd, Golden, CO 80401

Website: www.buffalobill.org

19: Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/adifferentbrian

Take a ride along the Trail Ridge Road, one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. Trail Ridge Road is a section of US Highway 34, passing through the Rocky Mountain National Park – it’s the highest paved through road in the state.

Trail Ridge Road stretches for 48-miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It’s a seasonal route, closed during the winter due to snow and other unfavorable driving conditions. The route is a bit of an adventure for most drivers because of the road conditions – there are only guard rails at specific parts of the route, while others put you either along the mountainside or cliff drop site.

Trail Ridge Road is also referred to as the Beaver Meadow National Scenic Byway. The beautiful drive has incredible mountain views along the entire journey. There are several pullouts along the route to stop for a rest and admire the sights. You pass across the Continental Divide, with notable sites such as the Milner Pass, the Fall River Pass, and the Iceberg Pass.

In case you want to just enjoy the views without thinking about driving, you can join one of the sightseeing tours that take groups or passengers along the road.

Address: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Website: www.nps.gov

20: Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride Ski Resort is a top-ranking ski resort destination in Colorado – perhaps one of the best in the US. The unique ski resort is in the Rocky Mountains, providing an amazing ski experience with incredible views of the surrounding mountains on the slopes.

Telluride Ski Resort is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District because of the past mining history. The resort opened in 1972, becoming a go-to destination for skiing.

There are 127 ski runs total at the resort, located on the San Juan Mountains – it covers more than 2,000 acres. The resort is known for the variety of ski runs. All experience levels are welcome to hit the slopes, with trails for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers.

One of the most popular runs is the Galloping Goose, a 4.6-mile long ski run.

The ski slopes at the resort are easily accessible with lots of ski lifts and even a free Gondola ride from the bottom.

In addition to the ski experience, the resort provides excellent hospitality. The entire site is well maintained with a friendly staff accommodating to your needs.

Telluride Ski Resort is open all year long – in the winter, there is plenty of natural snow, but in the summertime, the slopes use man-made snow.

Address: 565 Mountain Village Blvd, Telluride, CO 81435

Website: www.tellurideskiresort.com

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