15 Best Things to Do in Colorado, USA

Colorado is a land of diverse landscapes and endless activities. Whether you’re looking to ski the Rocky Mountains, raft the Arkansas River, or explore the mining towns of the Colorado Plateau, there’s something for everyone in this Centennial State. Here are our picks for the best things to do in Colorado:

Hike the Rockies

aerial photography of man standing on hill
Photo by Kalen Emsley

Before you go, you should know that Colorado’s hiking trails are a lot of fun. But they can also be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. For example, if you’re going on a day hike, make sure to bring enough water with you and wear appropriate clothing (such as sturdy hiking boots).

You’ll find easy nature trails in Colorado State Parks, like those around Cheyenne Mountain State Park or Rocky Mountain National Park. If you’re looking for something more strenuous and challenging than that, try one of these five trails:

  • The Panorama Trail at Mount Evans Scenic Byway—this trail is perfect for families who want to experience the Rockies without straying too far from Denver city limits; it’s also great for mountain bikers!
  • The Black Bear Pass Trail—the highest point on this trail is 12,000 feet above sea level so it can be pretty cold up there—but it’s worth it when you get those breathtaking views at the top!

Visit Estes Park

Photo by profnohair

Estes Park is a mountain town nestled in a valley on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s one of those places where you can go to escape everyday life, but it still offers plenty for people who love nature, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

The town has several restaurants with patio dining like Bear Creek Tavern, which serves up some great burgers and fries along with local beers on tap. The nearby Stanley Hotel is known as “The Shining” hotel because it was used as an inspiration for that Stephen King novel/movie classic.

You can also visit Trail Ridge Road (in summer only) if you want to see some spectacular views from an elevation around 12,000 feet above sea level!

Go Whitewater Rafting on Clear Creek

Photo by Abenteuer Albanien

Clear Creek is one of Colorado’s most popular whitewater rafting rivers, and for good reason. It has something for everyone, from families to more experienced rafters and kayakers. If you’re new to the sport, there are plenty of guided trips that will take care of all the logistics and allow you to focus on having fun on the river. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, check out some of Clear Creek’s rougher sections where expert paddlers have access to huge waves and technical rapids.

The town itself has several outfitters offering trips down this beautiful stretch of water; we recommend going with Colorado Whitewater Adventures or Western Rivers Guides & Outfitters (both based out of Buena Vista). Each company offers exciting adventures that include stops at historic landmarks like Idaho Springs’ original gold mining town or ghost towns like Pine Grove along with breathtaking views throughout your journey!

Embrace the Natural Beauty at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Photo by Lauren Lopes

Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in the middle of Colorado’s Sangres, just west of Alamosa and south of the San Luis Valley. It’s a great place to visit if you’re interested in active travel: you can hike up sand dunes, explore the sand sheet itself (which is over 10 miles long), or go horseback riding. The park also includes several campgrounds–both developed and primitive–for those who want to stay overnight.

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The main entrance for Great Sand Dunes National Park is off Highway 150, which runs east-west through Alamosa; this highway intersects with I-25 just north of town. You can also use Ute Pass Road (Hwy 17) as an alternative route into this part of Colorado; this route takes its name from native Ute Indians who once lived nearby but have since moved on due to encroachment by settlers starting in 1878 onwards through World War II when many Americans migrated westward looking for jobs during wartime manufacturing efforts across America at that time period known as World War II).

If driving yourself there via car then we recommend allowing six hours total travel time including stops along both routes mentioned above if possible so that way you know exactly how much time needs to be allotted beforehand, especially since traffic can be heavy at times even though both routes are paved roads except for sections near Denver where not all lanes may be paved yet due out future construction efforts taking place within city limits which could impact traffic flow depending on location/directionality along these two alternate routes listed above.”

Stroll Around Red Rocks Park

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Benjamin Rascoe

Incidentally, Red Rocks are open year-round. The best time to visit is in spring, summer, or fall when the weather is most pleasant and the crowds are lowest. There’s plenty of parking at the park—but it does fill up fast! And guess what? It’s all free (except for food at the restaurant).

In addition to being dog-friendly and having plenty of parking spaces available on site, there’s also a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs from your trip. If you get hungry while exploring this Colorado landmark, stop by Akumal Restaurant for a bite to eat.

Explore the Royal Gorge

brown mountain under white sky during daytime
Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR

The Royal Gorge is just that—a gorge, or canyon, formed by the Arkansas River. You can visit it and see one of two bridges spanning the 1,200-foot-deep chasm: the suspension bridge built in 1929 or the newer highway bridge constructed in 2007. The Royal Gorge Bridge Park is a tourist attraction with lots of activities including an aerial tram you can ride across the gorge (you’ll know what we mean when you see this thing). There’s also a funicular railway that will take you back down to the lower ground if you don’t want to hike it yourself. If walking isn’t your thing but watching others do it is then stop by their visitor center where they have live cameras showing what’s going on up above us mere mortals down here on Earth!

The area around Royal Gorge has several hiking trails including some along each side of its namesake canyon which provides great views as well as opportunities for birding (bring binoculars!).

Catch a Show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

people on beach near brown mountain under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Benjamin Rascoe

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an outdoor venue, so be aware of the weather when planning your visit. You may want to bring a jacket or sweatshirt as it can get cooler at night depending on what season you’re visiting.

In addition to checking out shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, there are many hiking options nearby including Roxborough State Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

See the Historic Garden of Gods

brown landmark mountain
Photo by Bailey Galindo

Colorado’s Garden of the Gods is a must-see for visitors to Colorado. Located in the Pikes Peak region and open year-round, this park features red rock formations that are famous for their beauty.

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For an easy day trip from Denver, take Highway 24 west toward Colorado Springs and make your way to Garden of the Gods Road (Highway 115). Once you arrive at the park entrance, stop by one of the visitor centers for maps and information about what there is to see and do. Here are some things you can expect at this free attraction:

  • Hiking trails
  • Horseback riding opportunities (April – October)
  • Road biking on designated paths through rocks with amazing views! You’ll need a helmet/gear, though – no exceptions! Don’t forget sunscreen as well as water! * Camping options available within park boundaries; reserve now because space fills up fast during peak season (late May through September). Come early if possible so that you can get set up before dark falls.* Rock climbing routes throughout the site; come prepared with all necessary safety equipment including helmets which must be worn while climbing in order for us not get fined by rangers who patrol regularly here.”

Hike the Manitou Incline Trail

Source: Jncraton, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hiking the Manitou Incline Trail is one of the most popular trails in Colorado. This steep trail climbs 2,000 feet over 1 mile, making it the steepest trail in Colorado.

When you’re done climbing, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the city below and Pikes Peak to the west. The Manitou Incline was once part of an old railway bed that connected Colorado Springs to Manitou Springs and provided access to spring water from nearby mountains. Today it’s a popular weekend destination for hikers looking for an adrenaline rush or anyone who wants to get some exercise in spectacular scenery. If you’re not a beginner hiker, this hike will be worth your while—but if you are new to hiking or just want something easier than this one-of-a-kind trail, check out these other great places:

Discover Mesa Verde National Park

brown rock formation during daytime
Photo by MARIOLA GROBELSKA

Mesa Verde National Park is one of the United States’ most popular National Parks, and for good reason. The park protects over 5,000 archaeological sites and cliff dwellings in four national monuments: Spruce Tree House, Cliff Palace, Long House, and Balcony House. These dwellings were built by the Ancestral Pueblo people from about 1150 to 1300 AD. Visitors can walk through these homes that are still occupied today by people who live in them seasonally or year-round.

The park has many other activities available as well—from hiking trails to ranger talks—but nothing compares with seeing these ancient structures up close and personal. To learn more about this unique place visit nps/webmapengine

Ride the Alpine Slide in Winter Park Resort

Ron Shawley, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Alpine Slide is a great way to spend some time if you’re heading to the mountains in winter. The slide is 2,400 feet long and has a 400-foot drop. It’s open for both summer and winter activities so it’s not just for those with snow on their boots! This ride will take you down at speeds of up to 25 mph! It’s an adrenaline rush that spans several seconds but will be over before you know it! This is one of those rides where you should be prepared for anything; if you don’t want your clothes getting dirty then bring old ones or wear something waterproof.

Suppose there are any children who want to join in on the fun (and we’re sure there will be). In that case, they can participate as well by getting themselves fitted with a helmet at Guest Services first before hopping into their toboggan seat which features lap belts only – no straps or harnesses here! Overall this ride offers plenty of excitement without being too scary or difficult so anyone can hop right in and enjoy themselves while learning some new skills like steering around corners while going fast enough not only to keep yourself upright but also to avoid hitting another person ahead.

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Enjoy a Fall Foliage Tour on Pike’s Peak Highway

road in mountain with green trees
Photo by Dustin Groh

Colorado is known for its majestic scenery, and the best way to experience it is by taking a fall foliage tour on Pike’s Peak Highway. This stretch of road was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1908 and offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods. The trip up can be done in your own car or you can take a guided tour from Colorado Springs with Colorado Gold Tours.

The drive takes about 1.5 hours one way with upwards of 6,000 feet in elevation gain (that may sound like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to what climbers do every year when they summit Pikes Peak). Take your time! There are plenty of stops along this journey so you can enjoy all that nature has to offer during this time period when leaves turn bright reds, oranges, and yellows before falling off their branches onto the warm earth below them.”

Go Horseback Riding at Paradise Meadows Ranch

Meadow Ranch
Photo by Giuli Canderlx

Colorado is a great place to go horseback riding, and the Paradise Meadows Ranch offers some of the best experiences in the state. If you’re visiting from out of town, this location is a must-see for anyone who loves horses.

Besides offering an excellent selection of trail rides that are sure to be fun for everyone involved, Paradise Meadows Ranch also offers overnight stays at its guest ranch where you can get an up close look at how horses live in Colorado. Take advantage of this opportunity if it’s available because it will help you better understand how these animals have been able to thrive here throughout history.

Take a Walking Tour of Downtown Denver or Boulder Colorado

16th Street Mall, Denver, Colorado
Source: ken Lund | Flickr

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening, take a walking tour of downtown Denver or Boulder Colorado. These vibrant towns offer plenty of attractions and activities, including museums, art galleries, theaters, and restaurants. You can also enjoy scenic views of the mountains and river valleys.

Walking tours are a great way to learn about the history, architecture, and culture of a place and they’re also easy to find. In downtown Denver, you can join a free tour or take part in one of the many paid options that offer insider knowledge from local experts.

For those with more time on their hands and an interest in learning more about Colorado’s history, consider taking a trip up to Boulder for one of their walking tours (or even their bike tours!). This town is known for its laid-back vibe, so you’ll be sure to have some fun—but don’t forget your camera: there are plenty of photo opportunities!

There are many walking tours throughout the city that you can take to learn more about its history and culture. These tours often include historic buildings such as Union Station or Coors Field, but they may also focus on other aspects of life in Denver like food or art. Some of these walking tours are free while others require tickets purchased ahead of time online or at your hotel front desk. You should always check ahead to see what time each tour starts so that you’re not late for yours!