Colorado is one of America’s most scenic states, where the beauty of both the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains converge. Known as the Centennial State, Colorado boasts four national parks and is a premier recreational area in the U.S. Whether you want to immerse yourself in indigenous heritage at Mesa Verde National Park, explore stunning high alpine lakes in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, or hit the slopes in Vail during winter, this state has something for everyone. Take your time driving through the dozens of scenic byways and highways that cross the state to discover hot springs, quaint towns, and local breweries. Even in metropolitan hubs like Denver and Colorado Springs, bustling cities with well-connected public transportation systems, you will find yourself surrounded by breathtaking mountainous beauty. But Colorado is not only an outdoor lover’s paradise; it also offers peace and tranquility indoors at one of the many wellness resorts, spas, and retreats throughout the state. Moreover, organic and natural food is abundant, with plentiful farmer’s markets and privately owned natural food stores even in tiny towns.
Best Time To visit
Colorado experiences all four seasons, from blustery winters with deep snow in high elevations to both fair and sweltering summers. Luckily, Denver sees over 300 days of sunshine every year and usually has mild temperatures due to its semi-arid climate. Colorado is a year-round destination, offering winter sports like skiing and summer activities like mountain biking and more. Popular ski destinations with the most snow in winter include Vail, Telluride, Crested Butte, Aspen, and Leadville.
Many cities in Colorado have mild summers due to their high elevation, though towns like Pueblo can see temperatures climbing well into the 90s. So, the best time to visit Colorado depends on your preferences. Winter is perfect for ski fanatics and those seeking a snowy wonderland. Summer brings primarily mild temperatures, ideal for backpacking trips or city hopping. Spring and fall are both beautiful times to experience Colorado’s stunning scenery without the crowds, although you might have to compete for views of the autumn leaves
What to expect
Though often associated with the western United States, Colorado is actually located closer to the middle of the country. It borders seven different states and is completely encompassed in the center of America. The Rocky Mountains run straight through the center of the state, with the Great Plains on the eastern side. The weather varies depending on the elevation and area of the state, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers as evenings can get chilly, even in summer.
Be aware of altitude sickness, as many towns are above 8,000′ in altitude, and the effects can be felt if you’re coming from a city closer to sea level. If you plan to be outdoors, remember to wear plenty of sunscreen, as the UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes, and stay hydrated with lots of water. Additionally, keep in mind that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, and dispensaries can be found throughout the state, from roadside stands to posh shopping centers.
Things to know
Before your trip to Colorado, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Time Zone: Colorado is on Mountain Standard Time (MST).
- Airports: Denver and Colorado Springs are the largest airports in Colorado, but there are also small commercial airports in Alamosa, Pueblo, and other tiny towns. Just note that Denver Airport is about 40 minutes away from the city without traffic.
- Major Cities: Denver is the major city and also the capital of Colorado. Other significant towns include Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Fort Collins.
- Organic Grocers: Major cities in Colorado have popular chains like Whole Foods and local chains like Natural Grocers. You’ll be surprised by the variety of tiny natural grocery stores, even in small towns.
- Best National Parks: Colorado offers four national parks, including Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and the most popular, Rocky Mountain National Park – a haven for outdoor lovers.
- Best Wellness Destinations: Colorado is emerging as a wellness destination, with places like the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Mountain Princeton Hot Springs Resort, and the Drala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes.
- Unique Small Towns: Colorado is renowned for its quaint and quirky mountain towns. Explore Leadville, Ouray, Salida, Estes Park, or Silverton, to name a few of the many unique villages scattered throughout the state.
how to get around
The best way to explore Colorado is by car. Rentals are available in all major cities. Keep in mind that you might need special equipment to drive in certain areas during winter, and appropriate winter driving gear, such as snow chains, is required by law. Several bus routes connect most cities in Colorado, offering transportation within more prominent cities like Denver. Denver itself has a Light Rail system, a metro that connects to the airport, and various stops around town. Biking is an excellent option for getting around town, as many cities are bike-friendly. Colorado is unique in the U.S. for having scenic trains that serve as tourist attractions and public transportation modes. For instance, you can hop aboard the Winter Park Express in winter, providing direct access from Denver to Winter Park. Multiple trains run from Chicago to California and make stops in Colorado cities like Grand Junction and Trinidad.
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