Colorado is located in western United States and has a varied geography. It is full of natural and historical attractions, such as the mountains, plains, canyons, plateaus, rivers, and deserts! Some say that Colorado was named by the Spanish explorers because of the red-colored rocks and soil found here. Let’s explore what Colorado has in store for all the Peripatetics, Hodophiles, and Wayfarers! Let’s explore some best Colorado road trip destinations.
- 1 1. The Crystal Mill – Colorado’s Most Photographed Spot:
- 2 2. Hanging Lake via Rocky Mountain Trail, Glenwood Springs:
- 3 3. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs – Must-Go Destination
- 4 4. Million Dollar Highway – Road Tripper’s Fantasy:
- 5 5. Great Sand Dunes– A Colorado Miracle:
- 6 6. Grand Lake – A Serene Family & Adventure Spot:
- 7 7. Mesa Verde National Park – An Archaeological Paradise:
- 8 8. Palisade – The Peach Capital of Colorado:
- 9 9. Royal Gorge Bridge – Highest Suspension Bridge:
- 10 10. Idaho Springs – The Mining Heritage of Colorado:
- 11 11. Colorado Road Trip Destinations : Denver
- 12 12. Attractions Within Six Hours Radius from Denver:
1. The Crystal Mill – Colorado’s Most Photographed Spot:
First spot on our road trip itinerary, has a rich history. It came into existence in 1892 and was essentially a hydro-based powerhouse, sometimes called the ‘Watermill’, that used a turbine system to generate power and compressed air for the nearby silver mines. Now you may wonder, what is the big deal about this place? Well, it is one of the most beautiful sites on the planet! The powerhouse is a tiny wooden hut situated next to the riverbank of the Crystal River and is surrounded by lush greenery. It is a must-go for all of us who love still and video photography and natural beauty. There is a single-lane road reaching this place, suitable for a 4-wheeler. However, those of us who don’t mind walking or hiking can reach there by foot also. It is 6 miles from Marble, Colorado. There are guided tours also for this place. It offers something for everyone. Summer is the most suitable time to visit as it remains inaccessible during other times.
2. Hanging Lake via Rocky Mountain Trail, Glenwood Springs:
Located near the Glenwood Springs, this is nature’s miracle. Due to the faulting of the valley, the bed of the lake fell down and the lake was formed. The walls of the lake are formed of limestone deposits carried by the flowing water which falls into it from the great heights of Bridal Veil waterfalls above the lake. Reaching the lake is a 1.2-mile trail of rocky mountains starting from the Glenwood Canyons. During the off-peak months of November to April, the trail head can be reached by vehicles and the serene beauty can be enjoyed. Being one of the favorite tourist spots, the lake requires an advance permit. Swimming, fishing, dogs, and drones are prohibited so that the natural habitat of the lake is not disturbed. This is a lovely romantic spot for couple travel. You can click memorable photos here.
3. Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs – Must-Go Destination
Next on our list of Colorado Road Trip Destinations is Garden of the Gods. The blue sky in the backdrop, snow-covered Pikes Peak Mountains, and hundreds of tall sandstone formations merging with the lush green trees make for a jaw dropping scenery! That’s Garden of the Gods for you! Situated in Colorado Springs, there are open-top Jeep tours, mountain climbing, biking, adventure activities, and a museum for the history buffs. There are several annual sporting events held here for biking and racing too. You can’t complete a road trip visit to Colorado without visiting the red rocks it is named after. The Nature Center hosts several educational programs that tell-all about the formations, mineral deposits, flora, and fauna of the place.
4. Million Dollar Highway – Road Tripper’s Fantasy:
The 25-mile long highway in western Colorado is a scenic beauty for road trippers. Originally built for transporting goods from mines to towns, this is a highway cut out between the mountains and has many turns along its way. It looks like an ‘S’ shaped road when looked from a bird’s eye view above. That is similar to the Dollar symbol. It includes a beautiful 12-mile pass along the Red mountains. No one knows for sure why it is called the Million Dollar Highway. There are many rumors around it. Some say it took a million dollars to build back in the 1920s, which was unheard of in that time while some others say that the scenic beauty is worth a million dollars! As this is cut out between the mountains, it requires experienced driving and further, there are no rail-guards along the route so safety needs to be incorporated in the driving.
5. Great Sand Dunes– A Colorado Miracle:
Studies suggest that the Great sand dunes began forming 440,000 years ago due to the drying up of Lake Alamosa. The winds carry the sand from the nearby mountains and drop them on the valley bed. This is a continuous process and therefore the dunes so formed are the tallest in the entire North America. The dunes can be a wonderful destination on a road trip. The national park there can guide the visitors on how to reach the place. It also holds concerts from May to September. Sandboarding and sledding are attractive sports for tourists here. There are camping sites nearby, which are open from April to November.
6. Grand Lake – A Serene Family & Adventure Spot:
Take a road trip to this is a place for all year long recreation. Like any other place in Colorado, the summers offer biking, hiking, mountaineering, kayaking. However, the winter’s offer skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. The road trip here can be a lot of fun. At times it is also known as the ‘highway to the sky’. Another road trip could be along the Trail Ridge Road. There are cascading waterfalls known as the Adam falls, a visit-worthy place. People enjoy camping and there is also a Yacht Club that offers sailing in the lake during the summers.
7. Mesa Verde National Park – An Archaeological Paradise:
Mesa Verde is another top destination on Colorado road trip, this is bliss for Archaeologists and history buffs. In the 13th century, the Puebloans built their settlements here in Mesa. On a road trip, you can get a whole view of the place from far to see how beautiful the cliff dwellings look. The road is known as the Ruins road route which is at times steep, full of twists and turns but the shorter route is the Mesa loop road route. It is 80 square miles covered with 4000 archaeological sites. These ruins show the advanced architectural skills of the inhabitants. Cliff palace is one of the best places within the park as it shows the ruins of close to 200 rooms.
8. Palisade – The Peach Capital of Colorado:
All wine and nature lovers should head out on a road trip to Palisade.This place is famous for peach orchards and vineyards. Sometimes also referred to as the “Peach capital of Colorado”, it can be reached in 4 hours by road from Denver, the capital city of Colorado. Throughout the year, the temperatures are warm, suitable for the production of wine. Therefore the city is full of wineries. The temperature is lowest in May, June, and September. People prefer being outdoors here to enjoy the warm weather and the scenic beauty of the mountains. So if you are traveling during the right months, do check out Palisade of all the Colorado road trip destinations.
9. Royal Gorge Bridge – Highest Suspension Bridge:
It takes 2 hours to reach here from Denver. The route is beautiful, but what the gorge holds is even more amazing. It is a 360-acre park near Canon City. This place houses one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. They have a zipline facility across the bridge which they call an ‘Aerial Gondola’ located 1200ft above River Arkansas, these bridges are the place for thorough adventurers who are seeking an adrenaline rush. The region has witnessed the entire history of the earth going back for 100 million years. Fossils of Dinosaurs have been unearthed here, Natives have lived here, Railroad wars took place here. The Arkansas river held deposits of Silver back in those days.
10. Idaho Springs – The Mining Heritage of Colorado:
Those interested in the mining history of Colorado, can stop at Idaho Springs on their road trip. The major attraction here is the mining tour because it used to be essentially a mining town. There are Agro mines and the Phoenix Gold mines which can be toured. Apart from this, the Echo Lake park provides a site for camping and hiking. Hot springs are another attraction in the city of Idaho, this is not a natural beauty, but is also known for its medicinal and therapeutic benefits. There is a skiing area too. Therefore, it is a place for adventurists and nature lovers.
11. Colorado Road Trip Destinations : Denver
We have mentioned so many places to visit in Colorado. How can we forget Denver, the capital city. This is the starting point for most of the attractions of Colorado road trips as it is centrally located. But Denver itself has a lot to offer. You can buy fruits, veggies, and locally produced foods from the farmer’s market, look at the street art and graffiti on the walls of most lanes, try the oysters at the Buckhorn Exchange, or even go to a concert. The city is always hustling and bustling and full of fun, food, and life. Also, this city offers some of the best Colorado spring nightlife.
12. Attractions Within Six Hours Radius from Denver:
The twelfth suggestion on our list of Colorado road trip destinations is slightly different. Why stay within Colorado? If you don’t mind interstate travel within 6 hours of a road trip from Denver, you can even reach lovely attractions of the states of Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and South Dakota. The Black Hills in South Dakota is one of the most famous places, you know why? Because that is where Mount Rushmore is! One of the most visited tourist places in the world. Apart from that, there are several attractions from the Gold-rush era too. Santa Fe in New Mexico is home to Cathedrals, Art Galleries, Loretto Chapel, Museums among others. Thermopolis in Wyoming is known for its hot springs and the Dinosaur Center.
Colorado offers a multidimensional experience of nature, adventure, history, and archaeology and has something for everyone and every age. Be it the sandstones , the lush green expanse, the snow-covered mountains or the peach covered orchards. History, Spanish influence, Mines, and lots of stories, all await for you when you think of visiting Colorado. Be it summers or winters, Colorado always has something for you all the time, throughout the year. I hope you enjoyed the list of Colorado road trip destinations. Color your lives red, Come to Colorado!