Cliff Palace and Balcony House are ancient cliff dwellings that the ancestral Pueblo Indians inhabited in the 12th and 13th centuries. Located in Mesa Verde National Park, both are World Heritage Sites and National Monuments. Balcony House had forty-five rooms and two kivas (ovens), and it can only be accessed on ranger-guided tours. Tour participants must climb a thirty-two foot ladder and then crawl through a twelve-foot tunnel to access Balcony House.
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.
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Not a drive for the faint of heart, as the trees disappear, so do the guardrails. Take your time around the curves for the sake of the views and your own safety. You’ll see mountain goats and bighorn sheep continue to graze without even batting an eye at your visit. Enjoy looking down on the world – the clouds don’t even make it up here all the time!
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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.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has been the city’s leading cultural institution for more than 100 years. Here, you can enjoy a variety of exhibits on everything from natural history and the universe to biology and even Colorado history. In City Park, the museum also has an IMAX theater, a planetarium and a host of exciting temporary exhibits annually.
While its Denver counterpart might be more popular, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs is the most interesting Colorado zoo experience you’ll find. It sits about 6,800ft (2,073m) above sea level and features exhibits built into the mountainside. You can also feed the giraffes, ride an open chairlift over the zoo, walk through an aviary of free-flying birds and expect plenty of animal encounters.
Bent’s Old Fort had an important secondary role as the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail, and it was a godsend for travelers and soldiers who could stop for repairs, replenish their supplies, and enjoy good food, water, and company. Disaster and disease closed the fort in 1849; reconstruction began in 1876, and guided tours of the fort are a must for families and history buffs.
The castle continued to grow and eventually become known as the Bishop Castle. As the Castle grew larger, it gained popularity. Throughout the years, volunteers would verbally agree to help Bishop build the castle, but they would never show up. Eventually, Bishop stopped seeking out volunteer builders and decided to finish the castle by himself. The Bishop Castle is known as the country’s largest castle that was built by one man.
Located in Central Colorado, Bishop Castle has quickly become one of the most popular roadside attractions in the state. In 1959, fifteen-year-old Jim Bishop dropped out of school and purchased a 2.5 acre piece of land for $450. This piece of land was located alongside southern Colorado’s San Isabel National Forest. In order to earn enough money to purchase the land, Bishop worked random side jobs and helped his father, Willard. Although Bishop funded the land purchase, his parent’s legally owned the land since Bishop was only a teenager.
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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.
Start in Bighorn Canyon if you’re an experienced whitewater rafter. You can go for days and camp on the side of the river for a true nature experience. Royal Gorge and Browns Canyon are locations friendly to experienced or new rafters, with opportunities to do a multi-day trip or just try it out for the day. Take the time to explore this beautiful part of Colorado and maybe find a new hobby.
During the next teen years, Bishop and Willard regularly camped on the land and began planning a design for a family cabin. In 1967, Bishop married Phoebe and began building a cabin for them in 1969. One of the most prevalent natural materials in the area was rocks, so Bishop decided to craft a stone cottage. From 1969 until 1971, Bishop and Willard alternated working on the cabin and running the family business.
No visit to the city of Boulder is complete without a stroll down Pearl Street Mall, the delightful pedestrian promenade that also serves as the city’s heart for dining, shopping and the arts. You’ll find hundreds of businesses along this stretch, most being locally owned and operated. While you take in the shops and some of Boulder’s best restaurants, be sure to enjoy the many street performers who are usually out and about showing off their skills.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a mountain paradise with stunning landscapes and plenty of activities. You can explore the park by foot on one of the many hiking trails or by taking a scenic drive on the famous Trail Ridge Road or other passageways. Other activities include camping, biking, water sports and horseback riding. There are also many opportunities for wildlife viewing, including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bears and mountain lions.
And then there are things to do all year, no matter the season or temperature. Biking, hiking, fishing and golfing all can be found in lower elevation places, such as Denver or Grand Junction, thanks to Colorado’s varying topography. It’s truly remarkable to enjoy a blizzard in the High Country one day and a sunny, 60 degree day peddling around Garden of the Gods the next.
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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.