Bordering beautiful states like Wyoming and Kansas, Colorado is a Midwestern gem that’s incredible to visit. Now, being one of the larger states in the US, it can be quite bamboozling when planning which of the best things to do in Colorado; especially as there’s so many. Not only that, they’re dotted all across the state and range from being totally accessible, to back trials, too.
There’s just so much to see! After all, Colorado has a heap of canyons, deserts and mountains, that date back hundreds of thousands of years. And you know what, that’s even before we get to talking about the historic pueblos and epic cities.
Trust me, you’re gonna be spoilt for choice!
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Colorado when you visit. It’s an epic state whatever time of the year you visit. Have the best time!
1.) Rocky Mountain National Park
Located northwest of the capital, Denver, the Rocky Mountain National Park is easily one of the best things to do in Colorado when you fancy escaping the city.
It’s totally gorgeous, especially with its incredible drives like the Trail Ridge Road which is amazing. That being said, there’s also a heap of hiking trails to explore this incredible landscape by foot.
For instance, the Emerald Lake Trail is totally beautiful and seeing Bear Lake (and the Bear Lake Trailhead) is a must, too!
2.) Black Canyon
Perched on the Western side of Colorado, Black Canyon (of the Gunnison National Park) is home to elk, golden eagles, deer and, of course, the famous Black Canyon.
Characterized by steep cliffs and dramatic drop-offs, the Black Canyon is a stunning sight to see and quite awe-inspiring! It is also known for the striated Painted Wall, the tallest cliff in Colorado. For me, it’s one of the lesser-rated national parks that I think lots of people tend to miss (and that’s a massive shame).
Once here, be sure to not only explore the Southern Rim but also head to the Northern Rim. Of course, there are a few of hiking trails once you’re here but it’s also easy to drive if you’re wanting to take in the stopping points on the Southern Rim.
Here, you’ll get to see Pulpit Rock Overlook, the gorgeous Painted Wall View and Gunnison Point Overlook (to name a few). It’s totally lovely.
If you fancy a little city break, then stopping off in Denver is easily one of the best things to do when exploring Colorado. You see, it’s pretty big (as cities in Colorado go) and there’s a bunch of fun and historic places that are perfect for a weekend break.
Once here, be sure to see the capitol building, explore the Botanic Gardens and visit the Denver Art Museum.
Their Waygu Beef Rolls are just too good to miss. Afterwards, get yourself over to Little Man Ice Cream who make the tastiest homemade ice cream sandwiches this side of the Atlantic.
4.) Pike’s Peak Cog Railway
Want to climb high without moving much? Yeah, we all have days like this!
Well, if you’re fancying a more chilled out, less exercise a heavy, day, pop over to Pike’s Peak Cog Railway.
Not far from the city of Colorado Springs is the base station of the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, located in Manitou.
Hop on the train to take in the scenery and reach the summit! Bring warm clothes and try to ride during good weather to get the most out of this experience. It’s totally lovely and one of the best things to do in Colorado, especially if you’re blessed with some epic weather.
5.) Red Rock Amphitheatre
The Red Rock Amphitheatre is a massive, open-air amphitheatre that’s just west of Denver and really easy to visit when in the city.
Now, before you visit, check out the calendar and book a performance if you can. The incredible atmosphere and natural beauty make this venue like no other. The venue really does make any show feel super special.
6.) Breckenridge Ski Slopes
While this mountain resort is is most popular during the snowy winter months (for skiers, at least). You can actually visit year-round, too.
It’s easily one of the best places in Colorado to brush up on your skiing skills. Plus, you can easily arrange lessons on the slopes as they have a variety of gradings that’ll suit an absolutely pro or beginner.
Though it can get busy, the slopes are large enough to accommodate lots of people. Though, if you want to avoid most of the crowds, visit at off-peak times.
7.) Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park might be one of the most special places to visit in all of Colorado.
You see, here, they have a heap of Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings that date back years.
Now a UNESCO protected site, the 800-year-old Puebloan dwellings and palace are just too incredible to miss.
Once here, you can take a ranger-guided tour to some of the cliff dwellings that you can see here.
Just remember, some of the trails can be steep and uneven and might even require a ladder climb or two.
8.) Garden of the Gods
With a heap of hiking trails and over a thousand acres to explore, visiting the Garden of the Gods is one of the best things to do in Colorado to see this unique region.
These huge sandstone formations stand proudly, watching over the landscape and their just so imposing and beautiful to see. After arriving, either head out on one of the best hikes or rent a bike (or jeep) to explore.
Plus, the vast majority of the trails are paved and relatively flat. This means their great for families or those that might have mobility issues.
You can’t miss this place.
9.) Hikes in Colorado
Okay, so I know I keep mentioning about hikes in Colorado, but there are so many options and routes you can’t miss when visiting.
Dotted all across the state, there’s a massive mix of trails for every ability. From the Blue Lakes Trail to the Mount Bierstadt Trail; you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Check out our full post on the best hikes in Colorado to experience; there’s too incredible to miss!
10.) Rattlesnake Canyon
Just shy of Grand Junction, visiting the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area is one of the best things to do in Colorado when driving west towards Utah (on your road trip).
You see, it’s just off Highway 70 and a great place to stop for a day of hiking and exploring, especially to Rattlesnake Canyon. To get here, follow the Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail that’s totally gorgeous.
Now, you will be hiking through the desert here, so, be a responsible hiker and prepare ahead of time. In the heat of the summer, this place can be quite intense, so plan accordingly. The trails are well marked, which all makes them totally easy to follow.