Home of the Rocky Mountains, America’s best-known collection of peaks and valleys Colorado boasts some of the country’s best skiing, boating and other outdoor recreation. Nature pulls out all the stops in this magical alpine state, featuring several of America’s greatest ski towns revolving like glittering planets around their central star Denver, the Mile High City.
Whether you come to Colorado to camp in the wilderness or indulge yourself in one of its many luxury mountain resorts, the Rockies are the star attraction. In winter, 22 ski resorts let the snow pile high, then transform into a summer playground of hiking, biking, fishing, and loads of festivals. Its Victorian-era mining towns like Telluride and Aspen are now world-class ski resorts, while Denver anchors the front range plains with as much urban pleasure as you like.
Tourism is a major component of Colorado’s economy, the towns and residents are well-equipped to welcome visitors throughout the year. While glitzy Aspen is very expensive, there are dozens of other sleepy mountain towns like Pagosa Springs where things are significantly cheaper and more low key. Most travelers end up in a ski town, where condos and posh resorts cling to the sides of slopes.
But these old mining towns are no old-school villages. The dining, nightlife and outdoor recreation in Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge and Telluride is as diverse and upscale as cities 100 times their size. Apart from the spring mud season, Colorado’s ski towns are bustling all year-round with recreation, festivals and fall colors. Denver is the only main city in the state, but it’s a charmer. Head to historic LoDo (Lower Downtown) in the capital’s center to get a feel for the gold rush roots topped with a cosmopolitan, posh night out.
The bigger cities of Denver and Colorado Springs are along the eastern flank of the Rockies, and typically the first point of entry. Having a rental car is a huge advantage in Colorado because most natural attractions, trail heads and parks are well outside the scope of public transportation. Denver’s airport is the only international hub in the state. With a rental car you can conquer the incredible scenic roads of the Rockies in no time. If you plan to simply spend all your time in a small ski town like Aspen, however, no car is needed because you can walk everywhere.
- Ski or snowboard at one of the 22 ski resorts within Colorado’s Rocky Mountains
- Enjoy a summer music festival in Telluride, Aspen, Steamboat or Vail
- Raft down the Arkansas River in early summer
- Drive down one of Colorado’s scenic byways in fall (October) when the aspens are changing colors
- Taste craft brewed beers in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and most other Colorado towns
- Summit a 14er (14,000 foot peak) in July after hiking fields of wildflowers
- Hit the streets of LoDo in Denver for a night on the town