When Spanish explorers first set foot in Colorado their simple name for the land, meaning coloured in Spanish, was for their river which flowed red from the silt of the mountains it carved. They probably didn’t think that the state would become so renowned for its vividly colourful scenery; mountains, mesas, forests, rivers, canyons and desert land. Any adrenaline junkie will wax lyrical about the adventure playground Colorado provides, but what may surprise you is the arty scene born of the creative and historical culture in the cities. There is definitely something for everyone in this diverse state.
Rocky Mountain Blues
The Rocky Mountains run through the entirety of the state and bestow millions of rugged, untouched acres. In the summer the blue skies, flowing rivers, lakes and rich landscape is endless inspiration for photography enthusiasts or just anyone who likes breathtaking scenery (so, everyone then). With national parks, lakes, rivers and peaks it is the perfect recreation area for people looking to have an action-packed break. You’ll find all kinds of experiences for all levels of skill so try your hand at white water rafting, fishing or kayaking. Take some time to see the great mountain attractions, balloon ride over Breckenridge or take a bicycle ride along one of the many scenic routes. Visit one of the ghost towns in a 4WD tour from Leadville to see the abandoned mines with dramatic mountain backdrops. If you prefer a less energetic pace but still want to see the scenery, drive your way up USA’s highest climbing paved road, Trail Ridge Road, or jump on the scenery express with a Rio Grande scenic railroad tour.
Red Hot Sand
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in the south of Colorado and was formed from the sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande flowing through the San Luis Valley. The highest sand Dunes in the USA, standing at about 750 feet, are a stark contrast from the lush peaks of the Rockies. You won’t recognise them on a daily basis as the winds whip them into changing shapes. The adventure lifestyle doesn’t ever tire in this state and here you can feed that adrenaline high with sand skiing, boarding and sledging. Also take a barefoot hike on these dunes for a more relaxed walking excursion.Just west of the dunes sits the Zapata Ranch, our favourite place to go for a bit of authentic cowboy culture.Read more
When you think of the two main cities of Colorado you might picture checked shirts, cowboy hats and line dancing. Well you’d only be half right – these cities are also hives of creativity and inspiration.
Boulder is known as one of the most liberal cities in the USA and back in the sixties it attracted a large colony of hippies. It houses the nation’s only year round Chautauqua so a visit to the historical dining hall before catching a concert in their auditorium is a must. Despite the cities rise in cosmopolitanism, there is still such a taste for the colonial and at the Farmer’s market is one of the top attractions. Also be sure to visit the Dushanbe tea rooms gifted to Boulder by their sister city in Tajikistan. It was made by forty artisans over two years in Dushanbe and then dismantled to pack in a box (or two) and send to Boulder, where it was finally reconstructed.
Denver is quickly becoming a very stylish city to visit and many of its old classic hotels and buildings are being refurbished to include more modern furniture and underground art. Its districts, affectionately nicknamed “LoDo” (Lower Downtown) and “SoBo” (South Broadway), have a great music scene, second hand bookshops, vintage clothing stores and bohemian art shops. With Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and The Centre for Performing Art it attracts creatives from all over. Spend some time in LoDo sucking in the culture; visit some of the 90+ brew pubs (the first one opened by the now governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper) and the various and vast galleries. Denver expertly combines its artistic side with Colorado’s love for the outdoors and during the summer months holds frequent music concerts under the sun and stars. Also visit the Colorado State Capitol which sits slightly higher than the rest of downtown Denver. From the 13th step you can stand exactly one mile above sea level, hence why (rather tamely) Denver is known as the Mile High City.
The Green Table
Preserved as a United Nations World Heritage Site the Mesa Verde National Park is steeped in history. One trip here will make you realise why Ancestral Puebloans made it their home until the 1300s. Mesa Verde means Green Table in Spanish and you will see why it was given this name with its unusual table top landscape clothed in greenery. You can visit the ruins of 600 mesa top dwellings of the Anasazi and there are 4700 archaeological sites. In addition to getting lost in the history of this magnificent site, you can become one with nature with bird watching, plant walks, stargazing and observing the diverse wildlife, including mountain lions and black bears.