Coloradans are outdoor enthusiasts, and one of their beloved hiking spots is Hanging Lake. The Hanging Lake Trail sits off Interstate 70, just 10mi (16km) east of the town of Glenwood Springs. The trail itself is short, just a little over a mile, but it can be a challenging hike because it’s steep and rocky. However, reaching the end is worth it. Hanging Lake is a unique geological feature, complete with a stunning hanging garden.
The forty-five mile trip takes four and a half hours to ride, as it is still coal-fired, and winds along narrow mountain paths and in and out of canyons. Historic narration is available on the trains for interested tourists. Both the Silverton and Durango ends of the line have railroad museums; the Durango Museum contains artifacts pertaining to the history of railroading, and the Silverton Museum displays a Baldwin Locomotive from 1902 in the original 1882 Depot.
The Bishop Castle regularly hosts private special events throughout the year. Schools are welcome to use the Castle’s facilities for educational purposes. Also, people are welcome to use the Bishop Castle as the location for their wedding ceremony. Although wedding ceremonies can be held at the Castle, people are not allowed to hold receptions or any other party similar to a reception at the Bishop Castle.
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.
Bishop Castle is an incredible feat of one man’s desire to singlehandedly build a fortress in the midst of the San Ysabel National Forest. Jim Bishop purchased the land in 1959 and began building his castle after he got married in 1967. He wanted to build a simple stone cabin for himself and his bride, but he never stopped building, and now the castle is a huge masterwork of turrets, crenellations, arches, and an enormous steam-producing dragon built from stainless steel plates.
Mesa Verde National Park, near Cortez, is perhaps the greatest archaeological wonder in the United States and a Unesco World Heritage site. Learn about the lives and history of the Ancestral Pueblo people as you visit Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House, incredible cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages built between 600 and 1300. There are also a few hiking trails available within the park, including one to a petroglyph panel.
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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.
Rough it and bring some camping gear – you can sleep under the stars, you’ll be so far away from the city lights that the stars seem to burn even brighter. There are plenty of cliffs if you’re a mountain climber. Hike along the South or North Rims for some excellent vistas, you’ll feel like you’re somehow closer to nature and that time seems to not exist here.
Make your Memorial Day memorable at Craig’s Grand Olde West Days or MountainFilm in Telluride. June, July, August and September are perhaps the hardest hitting when it comes to sheer number of events. Every single weekend you’ll have a handful of fun festivals to choose from. Splash around at FIBArk in June or the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo over Labor Day.
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a stone formation near Morrison, Colorado. Conveniently located 15 miles outside of Denver, the raw beauty of these rocks is sure to impress you. Thought to have been used by the Ute tribe prior to westward expansion, the rock formations provide ideal acoustics for live music performances – bands and artists perform on a rock stage!
There are plenty of activities for outdoors lovers here. Explore the trails, you’ll find that they lead you through forests and wetlands that surround the dunes. You should also be sure to visit Medano Lake, one of several alpine lakes and filled with trout if you’re a fisherman. Trek out to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains – the Medano Pass Primitive Road guides you through a canyon until you reach the mountains.
Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A designated National Natural Landmark, the park draws in visitors from all over the country and many international travelers. These gorgeous sandstone formations were discovered by surveyors out from Denver; upon seeing the rocks merged with the Great Plains’ grasslands that meet the woodlands of the Southwest and mountain forests of Pike Peak, they declared it looked like a garden fit for the gods.
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.
Still haven’t packed enough into your Colorado vacation? Make time to see some of the great Colorado mountain attractions — tour a ghost town near Aspen, sail above the mountains in a balloon over Breckenridge, rock out at a music festival in Telluride, check out the nightlife scene in Vail and try your luck at a casino in Black Hawk, Central City or Cripple Creek.
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