If playing in a giant sandbox appeals to you, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa is a must-visit. This giant dune field of 30sqmi (78sqkm) features at least one dune that’s more than 750ft (229m) high. Sledding down the dunes is a popular pastime, as is hiking and camping. There are also horseback riding trails and the scenic four-wheel drive on Medano Pass.
It is a place of wonder, especially considering that Jim Bishop himself has laid every stone and worked every piece of wrought iron. Bishop Castle is open every day, and admission is always free, although there is a donation box if you wish to contribute. Construction is ongoing and not sealed off; parents are advised to keep a close eye on their youngsters while at the castle.
Mesa Verde has been inhabited since 7500 BC by nomadic tribes, and the experts estimate that the first pueblos were built in 650 AD. The impressive cliff dwellings that still bring visitors to the park were built in 1200 AD. See the Cliff Palace and spend some time learning about these native americans at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Don’t forget to explore the Mesa Top Loop Road for some excellent viewpoints and canyon overlooks.
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Although it’s tucked away in Colorado’s southwest corner, Telluride parties so much its known as the festival capital of the West. One of its most well known is the Telluride Film Festival, which attracts celebrities and visitors from around the world. It also claims one of the country longest running film fests, the Mountainfilm Festival, held in late May. Carbondale showcases the 5Point Film Festival in late April, catering to adventure.
Since Colorado plays hard, residents and visitors are always hungry. Most festivals offer local food, but some are dedicated to it. A Taste of Colorado is Denver’s summer farewell and one of the tastiest ways to cap off summer. And if you can’t wait until then, head to Civic Center Park Tuesday through Thursday from May to October for a mass gathering of food trucks.
With over 750 animals of 170 species, the zoo is world-class, and contains the largest herd of reticulated giraffes in any zoo anywhere. A special feature of the zoo is the fact they allow visitors to hand-feed the giraffes, which are very tame. Hoping to inspire conservation action, the zoo has thoughtfully housed all of its animals in as natural an environment as possible so that visitors can understand the needs of each animal of each species.