Planning a visit to Colorado? Don’t miss these essential tips!
Are you looking for a getaway that’s both relaxing and adventurous? Look no further than Colorado! Colorado’s scenic mountain landscape, endless activities, and fantastic food scene make it the perfect place for your next vacation. Plus, this centrally located state is an easy drive for many within the U.S.
To help you get the most out of your trip, we at Rocky Mountain Food Tours have put together the ultimate guide to planning an epic journey to Colorado.
What to Know When Planning a Trip to Colorado
Whether you’re planning a family adventure, a romantic getaway, or weekend away with the girls, you’ll have plenty to see and do during your time in Colorado! Here’s a few basic tips to keep in mind:
Best Times to Visit Colorado – We may be biased, but there’s no wrong time to visit Colorado! With more than 300 days of sunshine every year, Colorado is an excellent spot for year-round adventures. Of course, if you’re looking to do any seasonal outdoor activities, you’ll want to pick a time that makes the most sense for your interests. For epic hikes and rock climbing, you’ll want to come in the summertime, while skiers and snowboarders will need to visit in the winter or early spring. To see the aspen trees changing colors, you’ll need to visit sometime in September or October.
Pack Layers – No matter what time of year you visit Colorado, you’ll likely get a glimpse into a few different seasons. One day you could find yourself driving through a blizzard, and only 24 hours later, you’ll be soaking up that bright Colorado sun. Do some research a few days before your trip to determine what the weather will be like, and come prepared with plenty of layers so you can adjust your outfit as needed.
What to Know About the Altitude – Colorado’s altitude is quite literally not for the faint of heart. The Mile High City, Denver, sits 5,280 feet above sea level, and ski towns like Breckenridge are more than 9,000 feet above sea level. While your body will slowly adjust to the altitude, be sure to take it easy on long hikes and drink more water than you think you’ll need. Headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness are all signs of altitude sickness.
Hit the Road – Colorado is best explored by car! Having a car during your visit to Colorado will provide you with access to endless activities, space for your adventure gear, and the flexibility to pull over and take in the sights of the Rocky Mountains at your own pace.
Best Places to Visit in Colorado
Because there is so much to see and do in Colorado, it can be a challenge to know where to start! Here’s our take on the top places to visit in Colorado:
Colorado Springs – Colorado Springs is Colorado’s second-largest city and the perfect launching off point for your mountain adventures! Just an hour south of Denver, Colorado Springs provides a more small-town feel for visitors looking to have quicker access to outdoor adventures. Visit Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the newly opened U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, or explore the local food scene on a downtown food tour! Insider Tip: For our ultimate list of what to do during your visit to Colorado Springs, click here!
Fort Collins – Fort Collins is one of Colorado’s most underrated destinations. Home to Colorado State University, this college town is a center for creativity, startups, and really great beer! The outdoor activities in Fort Collins are endless — enjoy a day of boating at Horsetooth Reservoir, hit the nearby hiking trails, or float down the Cache la Poudre River. Make sure to reserve a day for a biking tour of the town’s many microbreweries, including New Belgium and Odell Brewing Co.
Rocky Mountain National Park – Rocky Mountain National Park includes some of the most stunning landscapes Colorado has to offer. Just an hour and a half away from Denver in Estes Park, this national park is perfect for young families and outdoor adventure enthusiasts alike! Whether you make it a day trip or plan on camping or staying overnight, it’s well worth the visit!
Buena Vista and Salida – Located about two hours west of Colorado Springs, Buena Vista and Salida are Colorado’s best-kept secrets. These small mountain towns provide a local look into life in Western Colorado. You’ll have access to the best of Colorado at a fraction of the cost of the more touristy mountain towns! Step outside and go for a hike or take a whitewater rafting adventure.
Colorado Bucket List Items
This list is certainly not exhaustive – there are tons of things to do in Colorado! But if you have limited time, here are a few activities we’d recommend the following:
Climb a Mountain – A “fourteener” is a mountain with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet above sea level. Colorado has 54 fourteeners that are popular hiking challenges among the mountaineering community. If you’re relatively new to hiking at high altitudes, we recommend picking from some of the easier mountains like Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, or Quandary Peak. It’s recommended to start your hike early in the morning so you’ve safely descended in the afternoon, when thunderstorms and lightening are a popular but unwelcome attraction. And be sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and the necessary hiking gear.
Drink Some Colorado Beer – Colorado is known for its thriving brewery scene. Home to more than 10% of the nation’s craft breweries, Colorado is a beer lover’s haven! From major breweries like Coors and Budweiser to small-batch artisan makers like Great Divide Brewing, Boulder Beer Company, and Left Hand Brewing, there’s no shortage of beer tasting opportunities. Insider Tip: Our food tours in Colorado Springs feature local craft beer at several destinations!
Go to a Concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater – You truly haven’t seen a concert until you’ve been to Red Rocks Amphitheater. This iconic venue has hosted some of the greatest musicians of all time, from Daft Punk to the Beatles, and is well-known for its incredible acoustics and out of this world views. If you’re not able to see a show, it’s still worth a visit. Enjoy some of the nearby hiking trails or catch some sunrise yoga on the rocks!
Relax in a Hot Springs Pool – After a long day of hiking, there’s nothing better than a soak in one of Colorado’s many natural hot spring pools. Some of our favorites include Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort and Glenwood Hot Springs Pool. If you’re adventurous, consider hiking to one of the more remote options.
Go “Glamping” – Sure, you could rough it, but why would you when you can enjoy the rugged outdoors without ditching some modern-day conveniences? From tipis to heated yurts to luxury cabins, you have many options to choose from. We love Arapahoe Valley Ranch in Granby, Royal Gorge Cabins in Canyon City, and the new Jellystone Park in Larkspur.
Whatever you chose to do during your Colorado adventure, we hope you found this guide helpful!
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