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.
The Mile High City boasts the Great American Beer Festival, one of the country’s largest gathering of brewers and beer tastings. It’s held over three days in late September / early October. Palisade is Colorado’s wine capital, so it’s only fitting that one attend the Colorado Mountain Winefest there in September. Distillers have grown so rapidly that there are now festivals dedicated to liquor, including the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival in October.
The Annual Flower Trial Garden is a devoted horticultural research garden on the campus of Fort Collins' Colorado State University, open to the public throughout the year near the campus' Center for the Arts. The garden strives to serve as a trial space for the performance of annual plant cultivars in the region's high-altitude Rocky Mountain environmental conditions, with primary annual plantings on display between late May and mid-October. Plant varieties are grouped by genus and arranged by color, with more than 1,000 different cultivars typically on display each year. In addition to the main annual showcase, the garden also presented an annual pansy display, which is planted in fall and on display through the early spring. Perennials cultivated by the garden are also on display year-round across the street from the garden facility.
Take a tour of the Argo Gold Mine and Mill to learn about its history, including its tunnel, which processed more than $100m worth of gold ore after its completion in 1893. This Idaho Springs attraction also provides insight into the history of the gold rush in Colorado. You and your family will not only get to tour the mine and museum, but you can also try your hand at panning for gold.
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On the Colorado-Utah border, Dinosaur National Monument is an incredible testament to the natural and geological history of the area. You can see more than 1,500 fossils on display on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall. There are also petroglyphs of lost cultures and the abandoned homesteads of early settlers. For the adventurers, there are camping and whitewater rafting opportunities.
Those looking for a scenic mountain drive will love the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America. The highway rises to a height of 14,264ft (4,348m) above sea level and takes you right to the top of Mount Evans. Along the way, you might spot mountain goats and bighorn sheep as you pass alpine lakes and rock formations. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime drive with plenty of places to stop and snap a photo.
Bring your camera to capture the sparkling turquoise waters and melodic waterfalls that feed into the lake. It is home to a delicate ecosystem that is maintained by refraining from swimming or splashing in the tempting water, a sacrifice well worth it to preserve the environment. Enjoy the naturally occurring hanging plant gardens and peace that comes with this tranquil lake.
The Rocky Mountains are the birthplace of the Arkansas River, the most popular river in the United States. It is also perfect for white water rafting, whether you want to go for a half day, or turn it into a multi-day trip extravaganza. There are many different rafting routes depending on your level of expertise, from family-friendly to expert Class IV.
Visit any of the 5 visitors centers in the park; one is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places and was designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. There is a variety of landscapes to explore, from mountains to mountain tundra, and a wide array of wildlife. Whether you come for a day and do a short hike, or stay and camp out to go on longer treks, the scenery will impress you. Don’t miss the Arapaho National Forest or Indian Peaks Wilderness.
William F. Cody, aka “Buffalo Bill,” was a skilled bison hunter, a scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, and a world-famous showman who performed Wild West shows across the United States, in Europe, and in front of Queen Victoria, who was fascinated by him. The small museum outside of Golden, Colorado looks at Buffalo Bill’s life from its beginning in Iowa Territory in 1846.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is dedicated to conservation, captive breeding of endangered species, and comprehensive animal care. It aims to give every visitor an experience that will last them a lifetime. Founded in 1926, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is, as the name implies, on the slope of a mountain, affording both visitors and animals fabulous views, though it requires stout walking shoes and a degree of physical fitness.