One of the most beautiful places in the world, Colorado is filled with stunning landscapes, gigantic mountains, and endless rows of green pine trees. I recently spent 4 days exploring and adventuring Colorado during Christmas, and I compiled a list of my favorite experiences for you fellow travelers! You’ll definitely want to add Colorado to your bucket list. Happy adventuring!
Hike Chautauqua – Boulder
One of my favorite hikes in the U.S.A, this lovely park is filled with beautiful hiking trails, golden meadows, colorful wildflowers, and marvelous views of the 5 famous “Flatirons.” There is also a visitors center where you can grab a map, ask questions about the trails, and use the restroom. My friend, Paige, and I hiked the shorter Baseline/Bluebell-Baird Trail (1-2 miles), but if it’s not too icy and slippery in the winter time, I recommend also checking out the Mesa Trail (7 miles one way), or Bear Peak (4 miles one way.) Plan on visiting during the weekday to avoid crowds!
Explore Boulder and along Pearl Street
Boulder is a city I am definitely interested in moving to at some point in my adult years. Not only are there tons of hiking trails, slopes and outdoor adventure activities, but the quaint neighborhoods and shopping district along Pearl Street felt like home! You’ll find dozens of independent boutiques, small businesses, quaint bookshops, and yummy restaurants and chocolate shops. Be sure to grab a slice of Boulder’s pizza – I find it better and tastier than New York and Chicago’s.
Located 30 minutes from Estes Park, Dream Lake is a great hike and drive through the Rockies. This 2.2 miles hike is short and easy, and you can also drive out to Bear Lake and Nymph Lake’s on the way. Emerald Lake is a more adventurous trail (about another 0.7 miles), and you can hit it early in the morning on your way up.
Trail Ridge Road is the most popular drive in the Rockies, and it’s also known as Colorado’s “highway to the sky.” It covers 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake. You can travel up to 12,183 feet in the warm comfort and coziness of your car, but if you’re driving up in the winter like Paige and I did, put some heavy duty snow tires on and drive slowly.
Garden of the Gods Park – Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs has a lot of neat tourist activities for adventurers and hikers. One of my favorite adventures in the area is Garden of the Gods park. Located about 1 hour and 15 minutes south of Denver, you’ll find massive bright orange rock formations right alongside the road. Follow the signs and don’t forget your camera – these views are stunning. You can stroll through the park on the designated pathways and make sure to look up at the views of the dramatic 300 foot sandstone towers. Be sure to stay until golden hour/sunset and watch those rock formations glow with the fading light.
Take the Cog Train up to Pike’s Peak
Enjoy the best of Colorado’s views and take the Cog Rail up the massive 14,115-foot “fourteener” along Pike National Forest. This point is higher than any point in the Unites States, and the views of the mountains below are certainly worth it! Hop onto the cog railroad operating from Manitou Springs to the summit year-round, but keep in mind the train doesn’t all the way to the top if it’s been snowing heavily. You can also drive and hike along Barr Trail, if you wish. Make sure to stop at the gift shop at railroad station and purchase a bottle of oxygen for the high altitude, or you’ll feel dizzy, like I did, when you get to the top!
Relax in a Colorado Hot Springs
One of the things Colorado is known for is its abundance of natural hot springs. After a long day of skiing, snowboarding, hiking or adventuring, plan a stop at one of the many hot springs to relax in. Some local favorites are Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgeway and Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs.
See My Full Photo Gallery of Colorado Trip Here!