Colorado is an incredible state, known for its beauty and diverse landscapes.
Whether you're wanting to ski, hike, wander through picturesque towns or relax in a hot spring, this state has something for you!
With so many places to explore in different seasons it can be overwhelming to know when to visit, how long for, and what the best things to do in Colorado are.
Planning a trip anywhere can often feel overwhelming, but especially here when there are so many fantastic places to visit.
Not to worry, this guide will take you through the best things to do in Colorado!
Let's get started...
It's likely that you'll be getting to Colorado via plane. The two main airports in Colorado are Denver International Airport and Colorado Springs Airport.
Most US cities have daily flights into Denver International Airport so this is likely where your trip will begin.
We’d recommend using Skyscanner to check out available flights!
Amtrak has two routes that run through Colorado meaning that if you're coming from any of the below locations, you can easily get a train into Colorado.
The California Zephyr runs between California and Chicago, and 6 of the stops along the route are in Colorado, including Denver.
The Southwest Chief is the other route and it runs between Illinois and ends in Los Angeles. This route has 3 stops within Colorado, including Trinidad.
Check train times and deals on Amtrak's website in advance!
Colorado is one of the best road trip destinations in the US so whether you rent a car or bring your own, Colorado is a great state to drive to and around.
You'll find plenty of fantastic deals with Rental Cars or you can hire a campervan for the ultimate road trip experience!
Be sure to check out weather warnings and the mountain roads can be dangerous in winter, so just keep that in mind.
Here's the ultimate Colorado road trip itinerary if you're wondering how to create your own epic route.
Colorado is a huge state so if you're looking to stay a while and explore a lot of it, we would really recommend renting a car or a motorhome!
We have used Motorhome Republic multiple times and would highly recommend them! Hiring a camper means you can easily do some amazing Colorado road trips and also save on accommodation costs.
Alternatively, renting a car can be a great way to get around and we would definitely recommend it in Colorado. This is because it will allow you to explore the state in all its glory at your own pace.
Luckily, Colorado has great public transport networks - both in cities and in between them.
Greyhound and Flex offer daily bus routes between locations such as Denver, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.
Train travel is common throughout Colorado too! Aside from their historic railroads that we mention below, they also have modern rail lines including Amtrak.
Colorado likes to be as green as possible so E-bikes and E-scooters are now all the range in the big cities!
Being Colorado’s capital city, Denver is the most popular location for tourists to stay. Denver has everything you'd want from a capital city, whilst also being only an hour away from the mountains.
Here are a few accommodation options that you can try!
Offering an on-site restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, and a shared lounge area, Radisson Hotel Denver Central is a great option if you're looking for a budget stay. There's even a swimming pool at the hotel and the rooms are incredibly spacious!
This hotel has so many fantastic facilities including two swimming pools, a restaurant, a bar, and a business center. Renaissance Denver Central Park Hotel is pet-friendly too so the whole family can come along and some of the rooms offer striking mountain views.
Clayton Members Club & Hotel is a 5* hotel that's known for its great location, excellent amenities, and gorgeous suites. Not only is there an on-site restaurant, a bar, and a shared lounge area, but guests will also benefit from a sun terrace area!
A big city with plenty of things to do, without the prices of accommodation in Denver...
For a budget-friendly hotel, Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort sure has a lot of facilities including an outdoor heated pool, a picnic area with BBQ facilities, and a bar. The hotels' location means that you'll be close to Pikes Peak Highway and Cave of the Winds so it's in a great area!
This hotel has plenty of awesome rooms and suites on offer, and many of them feature stunning mountain views - especially the Deluxe King Suite. The rooms may be spacious and cozy, but it's the facilities that steal the show as you'll benefit from a swimming pool, hot tub, and a fitness center.
This is one of the best hotels you'll find in Colorado Springs with its striking mountain views, beautiful suites, and excellent amenities. Boasting an onsite spa, a golf course, an Olympic-sized pool, and a fitness center - Garden of the Gods Club & Resort is the definition of luxury!
Only a hour's drive from Denver, is the famous Rocky Mountains National Park. There are endless activities to do within this stunning park, but if you love hiking as much as us, then head straight to the Alpine Visitors Center.
While this hike is quite short, it's very steep. With over 200 steps to get to the highest point, this ridge trail has the nickname “huffers hill”!
However, don't let this put you off as the hike is definitely worth it for the views from the top.
If you plan your trip to coincide with spring or summer, you may even get to see the beautiful wildflowers in bloom during the walk.
While this hike is a great activity in Colorado for the whole family, make sure you're aware of the high altitude if you aren’t used to it.
You can easily do the Alpine Hike on your own by driving to the visitors centre.
However, you can also book a day tour from Denver to see the rest of the Rocky Mountains National Park!
No trip to Colorado is complete without a trip to the Mesa Verde National Park.
With Mesa Verde being Spanish for “green table”, these flat top mountains also contain the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings.
These ancient cliff dwellings date back to the 13th century and are an absolute must-see.
Today the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings are preserved within the national park and get thousands of visitors per year.
One of the most popular dwellings is the Balcony House which is only reachable by a tall ladder and a quick crawl through a tunnel. This adventurous act is only accessible via ranger guided tour which you can purchase at the visitor center before entering the park.
Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most historical sites in the world, making it one of the top things to do in Colorado!
Home to the tallest dune in North America, Great Sand Dunes National Park has something for everyone.
If you're up to the challenge you can partake in the 5 hour hike up the 755 feet dune to witness some incredible views.
However if that sounds a bit intense to you, the park's second tallest dune, High Dune at 699 feet, only takes an hour to reach the top from the car park.
If you're looking for a Colorado activity for the whole family, Sandboarding or Sand-sledding down the dunes is a hell of a lot of fun and you can rent sleds at the Oasis store.
All of these activities may take a couple of days so why not take a tent with you and camp on the sand under the stars?
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is known for its stunning stars and if you're lucky you might even be able to see the milky way.
If you're looking for fun things to do in Colorado then this national park has a lot to offer!
This Canyon is so deep and narrow that there are sections that only get sunlight for 33 minutes per day, giving it the name The Black Canyon.
The Black Canyon is based in Gunnison National Park which is one of the smallest national parks in the USA but it still gets thousands of visitors every year.
Highlights of Gunnison national park include the Warner Point Trail which is an hour long hike around the rim or you can hike below the rim in the inner canyon to the Gunnison river. Both of these hikes will let you explore the beauty of the Black Canyon and will be a great day trip in Colorado.
Here's some more information about the best things to do in the Black Canyon...
If you love a hot springs trip, you're going to love Colorado!
There are so many different hot springs in the state that you're going to be spoilt for choice, so there really is something for everyone.
If you're looking for a family friendly hot spring option, head straight for Glenwood Hot Springs. Easy to get to via train from Denver, Glenwood is great whether you want to go for a daytrip or a weekend break in their famous resort lodge.
However if you're after a more luxury option, Dunton Hot Springs is an elegant get-away perfect for that couples retreat. Located in an old ghost town near Telluride, these hot springs have a range of activities and a spa for relaxing in the alpine valley.
Home to 28 ski resorts, people flock to Colorado every year for its winter sports.
Breckenridge Ski Resort is one of Colorado's most famous ski resorts and you will not struggle to have a good time here! Known for its lively ski town, Breckenridge is perfect for beginners and experts alike. The only downside is the crowds, so if you aren't looking for a lively resort, this might not be the one for you.
If you're looking for a slightly quieter trip, Winter Park Resort is a great option. Still easily accessible from Denver, Winter Park is perfect for families and is slightly more affordable, while still being the fourth largest in the state.
Whether you are looking to ski, snowboard, snowmobile or an assortment of other winter activities, Colorado is the best place in the US for that winter break.
If you're looking for a high thrill activity in Colorado, then Whitewater Rafting in Browns Canyon is one to add to your list!
This rafting trip is the perfect combination of calm waters where you can look around and appreciate the stunning scenery, and some epic rapids that will really get your adrenaline going.
This section of the Arkansas river is easily accessible from both Denver and Colorado Springs, and is the best day out for the whole family.
You can book your Whitewater Rafting tour here and don't worry, you can rent your wetsuit and boots and the visitor centre!
One of the best things to do in Colorado is obviously to visit the Colorado National Monument. This picturesque landscape is the epitome of the south west and makes for the best day out.
Rent a car, a bike or get your hiking boots on and start your trip on Rim Rock Drive; this is the only paved route through the monument so you can't miss it.
The park costs $25 to enter per vehicle or $15 per person which is a great price for the amazing stops along the way including the vibrant red rock formations.
You can purchase maps from the visitors center to be sure you make all the stops, and don't forget to check out Cold Shivers Point Overlook for the best photo opp!
You'll find plenty of things to do in Colorado National Monument so don't miss out on this place...
Learning about the history of the location that you visit is important for any trip and Colorado is no different.
First visit the Canyon of the Ancients visitors centre and museum to learn about the history of the Ancestral Puebloan people and Native American cultures of the region. Then view the fascinating remodel of a Puebloan pithouse before going out and seeing the architecture of the canyon.
After the visitor centre, head to the monument in the Four Corners region which is well preserved and shows evidence of the native american cultures. This site alone has the highest density of archaeological sites in the whole of the US.
A great way to tour all of these sites is to mountain bike the six and a half mile long sand canyon trail. Don't forget your water though as there are no refreshment stops along the way.
The Garden of the Gods is the perfect thing to do in Colorado with kids and was rated in the top children activities in Denver just last year.
Check their events calendar as they have different activities everyday, including a weekly tyke hike; a scheduled nature walk for children to learn all about nature and the area. Garden of the Gods even has a junior ranger program where you can complete activities to earn your very own ranger badge and certificate.
If you're travelling to Colorado without children then don't worry, The Garden of the Gods has plenty of things to do for adults. This includes rock climbing, segway tours, hiking, biking, and nature tours, to name a few.
Book your jeep tour here to explore the area, admire the epic scenery, and maybe even spot some of Colorado’s wildlife.
The only thing better than exploring the Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, is exploring it on a raft!
The Yampa River runs through the heart of the Dinosaur Monument and is the perfect river to book a guided boat trip through the beautiful split mountain.
You can easily spend a few days exploring this monument; a ranger led hike around the cliff face is the best way to spot as many real life dinosaur fossils as possible. You'll even get to see 1,000-year-old petroglyphs and pictographs.
The Dinosaur national monument is also home to an array of hiking trails for all abilities as well as a very popular campground.
Looking for things to do for the whole family? After the rafting trip, why not sign up for a free ranger or junior palaeontology program to learn all about the dinosaur and the bones you see around the site.
If you're a fan of dinosaurs (let's be honest who isn't), then Canada has some fantastic destinations that you'll want to add to your bucket list too!
Colorado is home to some beautiful historic railroads that are still running today. Many of these will show you breathtaking landscapes that can only be viewed from the train itself.
Taking a ride on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad is one of the best things you can do in Colorado as a couple. Book yourself a romantic dinner or first class lunch trip and witness the breathtaking scenery while enjoying a luxurious dining experience.
During your trip you can explore the train by wandering down to the open air observation deck or to the 360 degree dome car.
Alternatively, just book the simple coach class, which departs four times a day and takes two hours, and ride in style around Colorado’s famous canyon.
Everyone loves a great railroad adventure as it's a fantastic way to admire the scenery and explore a destination. If this is up your street, then you might want to check out the Alaska Railroad that departs from Anchorage too!
Rent a car and start your Trail Ridge Road adventure!
However, one of the most breathtaking stops would be Milner Pass. Not only does Milner Pass have one of the best views of the Rocky Mountains, it's also where you can see the continental divide.
The Continental Divide marks the spot where the Atlantic and Pacific plates converge. The great divide runs all the way from Alaska to New Mexico and then all the way down to the bottom of South America.
If you're wondering what to do in Colorado then I can definitely recommend this one!
Colorado arguably has some of the most amazing trails in the world which are all beautiful and full of history.
The Trail of the Ancients is a five hour long driving trail starting at Four Corners Monument and ending at Hovenweep National Monument. It will take you around many sites with evidence of The Ancestral Puebloan civilization including rock art and cliff dwellings. Along this trail you can also visit the Canyon of the Ancients
The Highway of Legends Highway, located in the south of Colorado, is full of myths, lore, and legends mainly revolving around conflicts between the American Indians and Spanish explorers.
Based in Colorado Springs, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail is a common place for hikers and cyclists, running along the front of the mountains. Luckily this 17 mile long trail runs through the popular town of Monument so be sure to stop at some of their yummy eateries for lunch and have a chat with some other explorers!
If you're visiting Colorado, it's very likely that you will spend some time in Denver and for good reason, it's an awesome city! For a huge city, Denver has a relaxed vibe while still being bustling and having endless tourist attractions.
Denver was the first city in the US to legalise cannabis so why not visit a cannabis factory? If beer is more your thing, book a brewery walking tour to sample some of the best beer in the whole of the US.
The Mile High City is full of art and culture so be sure to check out some of the museums and art galleries - we would specifically recommend the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
If you've got the time you should also head to Denver Botanic Gardens!
The best way to explore the trendy town of Boulder is to rent a bike and cycle around. This town is surrounded by over 31,000 acres of parks and nature reserves and has endless amounts of outdoor activities.
While Boulder is home to the famous Flat Irons, which is one of the best things to do in Colorado, Boulder also has so much else to offer.
Being quite a progressive liberal university town, Boulder has an amazing foodie scene with hip eateries from all over the world.
Start at the famous Pearl Street and stroll through the rows of vintage shops, trendy breweries and busy restaurants.
Once you've finished people watching in a cute cafe, why not see Boulder from a completely different point of view and book a hot-air balloon ride to witness some truly epic views!
If you're looking for things to do in Boulder then here's some information that you might find helpful...
Obviously while you're in Boulder you have to hike Flatirons! These slanted formations are made from Sandstone and are a trademark of the area.
Start from the Chautauqua Trailhead (get here early if you need a parking space) and from here you can embark on the 2 hour Flatiron Loop Trail.
The Flatiron Loop Trail is a relatively easy hike with a steady incline while still getting the beautiful scenic views in between the two ridges.
For a slightly longer hike, you can take the lesser known hike of Enchanted Mesa Trailhead. While this trail is slightly trickier to find, it makes the hike to the top of flatirons slightly longer as it includes hiking across the Chautauqua park and you may find it slightly less crowded!
On the west side of Colorado but right in the middle of its wine country sits Grand Junction.
Grand Junction is a perfect base for exploring some more of the west including the National Monument, so try to stay a few days here if you can!
Bike or walk along the Colorado River, buy some fresh produce at the local farmers markets, eat at some award winning restaurants and visit many vineyards and wineries!
There are dozens of wineries in Grand Junction so picking which ones to visit can be tough!
Grand Valley Grapes and Grains Adventures have a winery tour that will pick you up and take you around all of the local wineries and allow you to relax, see the sights and enjoy some wine with minimal stress.
No matter the season you visit Colorado, there are plenty of things to do in these mountain towns.
Vail is famous for its ski resort but is a vibrant town with a real European feel to it. If you're looking for a summer destination in Colorado for the whole family, do not miss out on Vail. Paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and even summer gondola rides are all popular things to do in this amazing town.
However if you're visiting in summer, it's still well worth the trip and the crowds will be a lot more manageable. Book yourself an Aspen Off The Beaten Path Tour to see some of those beautiful lesser known gems.
Visiting San Juan National Forest is an absolute must do in Colorado. Based in the south west of the Centennial State, this park takes up 1.8 million acres.
There are so many hiking trails within this forest and many of these offer an opportunity to see some of the 150 different types of wildflower found in the forest.
Check Wildflowers of San Juan to discover what flowers are in bloom during your time of visit, and make sure you take your camera along!
There are so many breathtaking waterfalls within Colorado so it can be difficult to choose which ones to visit.
Why not rent a car and take your own road trip around the state to see some of the state's best cascades.
Complete the Ultimate Colorado Waterfall Road Trip and stop at nine different famous waterfall locations. This trip includes Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest free falling waterfall, and Seven Falls, a famous selection of waterfalls in Colorado Springs.
Don't forget your hiking boots as some of these waterfalls include a little trek to get the best views, although it's definitely worth it!
If you're after an adventurous activity during your Colorado trip, definitely take a trip to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. They have a great RV campground with amazing amenities so do not miss this stop off your road trip.
Golden Gate Canyon is perfect for wildlife spotting with moose, black bears, and elk all being commonly spotted on nature walks and bike rides. In fact, there are 35 miles of trails in the park and these are open to both hikers and mountain bikers.
Fishing, hiking, and hunting are some other of the outdoor activities available, and you'll find plenty of seasonal activities to depending on the time of year!
Here's some more information on the best things to do in Golden Gate Canyon State Park...
If the other activities we have listed are not adventurous enough for you, be sure to explore some of the caves in Colorado.
Cave of the Winds Mountain Park is one of the most fun things to do in the whole of Colorado. Located near Colorado Springs this park has so much to offer including caves, a zip wire, climbing walls, and axe throwing.
The haunted lantern guided tour at this park, takes you deep inside the mountain caves through narrow tunnels. The haunted tour is perfect for older kids and young adults but there is also a discovery tour which is suitable for the whole family.
Here you can learn about the history of the cave and see its stunning formations on an easier to navigate route.
The Florissant Fossil Beds are one of the most diverse fossil deposits in the whole world. These fossils help to tell the history of Colorado and you can learn all about them at the exhibits inside the visitor centre.
If you have small ones with you, there's an adorable mini ranger booklet they can fill out whilst exploring the trails and can even earn themselves a badge.
Near the monument are several hiking trails which are great for nature spotting once you are all fossil-ed out! There are 14 miles of trails within Florissant Fossil Beds so take your time and head out to explore.
You'll find plenty of iconic attractions in Colorado but you don't want to miss out on this place!
Fort Collins is a beautiful town located a short drive north of Denver.
This sunny town is full of history, friendly locals, and so many cool things to do. If you're looking for a base that's outside the hustle and bustle of Denver, Fort Collins might be the place for you to spend a few days.
If you're a big foodie and want to taste a selection of the amazing food served in the local restaurants, why not book your Fort Collins Old Town food tour here?
We've got a whole guide on the best things to do in Fort Collins if you want to learn more...
Glenwood Springs has the perfect mix of fun activities to do and relaxation, making it the perfect place to visit for both couples and families.
The hot springs are obviously a must-visit and is what Glenwood Springs is famous for, however, there are plenty of other things to do here.
This location in Colorado is rich with history and believe it or not it used to be named Defiance and was home to some wild-west legends, making it famous for its frequent outlaw visitors! Take a trip to the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Frontier Museum to learn all about these individuals.
After getting a feel for the history of the city, book a Canyon Raft trip along Glenwood Canyon to get that adrenaline going.
If you end up loving this place as much as we did, then I can highly recommend heading up to Alaska and spending some time in Girdwood which has a similar vibe!
Old Colorado City is located within Colorado Springs; a quirky town that's a must-visit during your road trip!
This charming small town is ideal for wandering aimlessly through hundreds of shops, boutiques, coffee shops and galleries - especially as there are over 100 unique businesses found here.
Both Colorado locals and tourists love to visit Old Colorado city and for good reason, as this area is full of history.
Make sure you visit in time to taste some of the amazing local cuisine at the famous OCC Farmers Market during your trip too!
You'll often find that there are events talking place here as well so do your research before you visit!
There are plenty of other things to do in Colorado Springs aside from Old Colorado City so what are you waiting for?
While you can visit Colorado all year round and still have a great time, summer is known to be the best time to go. All the mountain roads are open, the national parks are in their prime and the road conditions will be best for those scenic road trips.
While you could easily spend a month exploring all of what Colorado has to offer, two weeks would be enough time to visit all the national parks and major attractions without feeling too rushed.
While you can’t book a tour to see the WHOLE of Colorado, here are some popular tours to see some of the highlights:
Colorado is a very safe state to visit, however it's still necessary to be cautious when out and about.
If you're embarking on any long hikes solo, make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’re setting off. It's also always important to check weather warnings before setting off on any road trips, especially in winter.
If you're used to sea level, you may need to take a day to acclimatise to the new altitude, or grab some altitude sickness tablets before your trip!
Forest fires are a real risk in Colorado so many of the parks and campgrounds will have a ban on open fires. Make sure you check in advance with local rangers.
The mountain roads are notorious for being busy on Fridays and Sundays! To avoid being stuck in traffic while soaking in the views, try to go midweek if possible.
As you can see there really are so many fun things to do and see in Colorado. I’m sure we have even missed a few out so please do let us know!
After seeing all the beauty that Colorado has to offer you may be thinking, where next?
If you're road-tripping, you're in the perfect place to start exploring so many other places! A great next stop would be to drive on down to Santa Fe in New Mexico, or even to Arizona, Nevada or Texas.
If you're planning a road trip through the United States then here are some other articles that you may find helpful: