If you’re planning a trip to Colorado, it can be hard to know where to start. After all, there are so many amazing places to visit in Colorado.
I’m here to help! I’ve lived in Colorado for years, and in this post, I’ll share my picks for the 41 best Colorado destinations you should visit in 2022.
From the top travel destinations in Colorado to a few hidden local gems, this is the only list you’ll need to decide where to go and what to see in Colorado. After reading, bookmark my guide to the best things to do in Colorado for more awesome Colorado activities.
📺 Want a video version of this list? In this 5-minute video, Abigail rounds up her 14 favorite places to go in Colorado 👇:
Table of Contents
- 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
- Pikes Peak
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
- Maroon Bells
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
- Snowmass Village
- Colorado Springs
- Glenwood Springs
- Grand Junction
- Pagosa Springs
- Garden of the Gods
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Colorado National Monument
- Estes Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Hanging Lake
- Buena Vista
- Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
- Red Feather Lakes Area
- Grand Lake
- Steamboat Springs
- Fort Collins
- Crested Butte
- Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
- San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway
- Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
- Castle Rock
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41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
Hike, drive, or ride a train up one of Colorado’s 14ers
Pikes Peak towers 14,115 feet above the sea, and is one of the best Colorado places to visit. You can get to the top several ways — by hiking (which is definitely a lot of work!), biking, driving, or booking a spot on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
For a fun adventure, you can take guided Jeep tours to the top which gives you a lot of info about the history of one of the most famous Colorado destinations.
Take in the sights in the Mile High City
The Mile High City is a great place to start your visit in Colorado, and likely your point of entry. As one of the best cities to visit in Colorado, Denver features several fantastic art museums and art galleries (those mountains inspire a lot of creativity!), a science museum with amazing displays of gems and minerals found here, and lots of outdoor activities.
There’s even a river for kayaking and tubing that runs right through several of Denver’s downtown neighborhoods.
If you’re a sports fan, Denver is home to six pro teams, so there’s always a game or match on somewhere. After a day of exploring, grab a bite while admiring the historic buildings in Larimer Square.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Pull on your hiking boots and enjoy endless views of mountain peaks
Rocky Mountain National Park is about a two-hour drive from Denver, but the drive and the destination both offer spectacular views! Just about every spot at the park gives you a scenic view of the Rocky Mountains, and you may spot moose, elk, marmots, and adorable pikas roaming the park.
Trail Ridge Road is a breathtaking road through the park that climbs to more than 12,000 feet above sea level. In fact, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved highway in the U.S. RMNP is definitely one of the best places to visit in Colorado!
👉 Pro Tip: Rocky Mountain National Park currently has a timed entry system and is requiring reservations to get into the park. This is one of those places in Colorado that requires advanced planning to visit!
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
Perch yourself high above one of Colorado’s deepest canyons
Royal Gorge’s suspension bridge crosses high above the Arkansas River, giving you amazing views of the canyon if you’re brave enough to cross.
There’s also an adventure park at the gorge, featuring the highest zipline in the country, a rollercoaster, and aerial gondolas that carry you over the canyon. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to visit in Colorado and a great option for families.
👉 If You Loved: The view from the Royal Gorge Bridge, this Jeep tour will give you another perspective… and take you over the highest suspension bridge in the whole country!
Head to nature-lovers’ paradise, a must-see in Colorado
There’s a good chance you’ve actually seen the Maroon Bells before. Located near Aspen, they’re a popular stock shot of Colorado because they’re just that awe-inspiring (in fact, they even occupy the homepage of Travel Lemming!).
Despite their status as one of the most popular places to see in Colorado, a visit to Maroon Bells should still rank high on your list of best places to visit in Colorado!
👉 Pro Tip: Maroon Bells has a reservation system during the summer. You can either reserve a parking spot or a seat on the shuttle from nearby Aspen.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Visit one of Colorado’s more remote National Parks
Visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for hiking, fishing, or admiring the views carved out by the Gunnison River. This National Park is one of the four national parks in Colorado and is in a less-developed area of the state, with the small Colorado town of Crawford about half an hour away.
If you’re looking for quiet and a chance to appreciate nature, Gunnison National Park is one of the best destinations in Colorado!
Ride a historic train through picturesque wilderness
Durango is in southwestern Colorado, about a six-hour drive from Denver, but with a Colorado feel all its own! There are hiking and mountain biking trails, river rafting opportunities, and scenic drives nearby.
You’re also not far from Mesa Verde National Park and the Four Corners Monument, two other popular places to go in Colorado.
One unique Colorado experience is to hop aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train for a beautiful Colorado mountain train ride. You can also take the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway drive, beginning in Durango.
Coast down the Million Dollar Highway into one of Colorado’s best mountain towns
If you take the narrow-gauge train from Durango, you’ll end up in the former mining town of Silverton. The town is a National Historic Landmark, and along with being the destination of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, it’s a stop on the San Juan Skyway as well.
If you’re in need of Colorado vacation ideas, Silverton has plenty. You can shop for souvenirs, grab a bite to eat, or head out hiking, go on a Jeep tour, or try an ATV ride.
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Sled and sandboard down some of the tallest dunes in North America
Colorado’s national parks make some of the best places to visit in Colorado! Each one will give you a quick history and science lesson about various regions, and Great Sand Dunes National Park is no exception.
The sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park are actually the tallest dunes in North America, and visitors can hike, splash in Medano Creek (in certain seasons), and even sled down the dunes.
All the while, you’re surrounded by amazing views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains just beyond the dunes. It’s definitely one of the most mesmerizing places in Colorado!
Enjoy outdoor recreation and plenty of breweries in this quirky college town
You’ll find lots of fun things to do in Boulder, a funky college town just a 45-minute drive from Denver. The area has plenty of nearby hiking trails and mountain biking paths to explore the nearby Flatirons — the flat rocks that give Boulder a striking backdrop.
Pearl Street Mall is a popular strip, with shops, restaurants, and breweries where you can unwind after a day of outdoor activities.
👉 Love hiking and beer? Who doesn’t? This Boulder Hike & Brews tour takes you to hike the Flatirons with an expert, then to a taproom near Pearl Street to sample a local, award-winning beer.
Take part in year-round activities in this popular ski town
Lots of people only think of Colorado ski towns in winter, but they offer plenty to do year-round! Snowmass is a popular Colorado ski resort, sure, but in summer you can also hit the biking trails, or hiking or fishing.
Kids will also love the activities at The Lost Forest, including an alpine coaster, a treetop challenge course, and a climbing wall.
🥾 Read Next: Colorado’s 15 Best Hikes
Discover several of the best places to go in Colorado in the state’s second-largest city
Colorado Springs is about an hour’s drive south of Denver, and this travel destination offers a great base camp for more Colorado adventures!
Top activities in Colorado Springs include visiting Garden of the Gods, The Broadmoor Seven Falls, and taking a scenic drive up nearby Pikes Peak or down to Manitou Springs.
📚 Related Reading: Staying a few days in the area? Check out my list of the best day trips around Colorado Springs for more ideas!
Soak in several of Colorado’s hot springs in this charming mountain town
Glenwood Springs sits perched in the mountains, just off I-70, and about a three-hour drive east of Denver. The town is best known for its large swimming pools that are fed by the hot springs in the area.
The spring-fed pools are open year-round, and many people enjoy sitting in the warm pool during a peaceful snowfall. Glenwood Springs is popular year-round (it is one of the top hot springs in Colorado, after all).
You can also take an ATV tour or hit the nearby adventure park for a fun day in the mountains! Glenwood is also a short drive from Hanging Lake, so nature lovers can hit that hiking trail while you’re there.
🚗 Getting There: If you’re headed to Glenwood from the Denver area, be aware that the status of I-70 could make or break your trip. Be sure to check traffic reports before you start the drive!
Take a road trip to this far-off ski town, one of the best vacation spots in Colorado
The city of Telluride should be at the top of anyone’s list of places to visit in Colorado! It’s a long drive from Colorado’s major metro areas, but the untouched beauty of the Telluride area makes it a big draw year-round.
Whether you enjoy warm or cold weather outdoor activities, you’re sure to find something to do in this gorgeous Colorado mountain town.
Explore towering redstone cliffs and rock formations in this western region
Grand Junction is a great spot to visit in Colorado, especially if you’re coming into the state from nearby Utah. The town of Grand Junction has its own vibe, different from Denver but very Colorado-feeling all the same!
There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, along with rafting, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. You’ll soon realize why exploring the Grand Junction area is one of the activities that also makes our list of the best stuff to do in Colorado.
Head to Pagosa Springs, the place where to go in Colorado for peaceful relaxation
The hot springs in Pagosa Springs make it one of the best places to visit in Colorado! Three resorts in town are fed by the Mother Spring aquifer, which is more than 1,002 feet deep — certified the world’s deepest geothermal spring.
Besides the springs, Pagosa also has several impressive waterfalls you can visit, and quaint downtown shopping and dining.
Want more hot springs? Check out our list of the best hot springs in the Colorado mountains.
Sip wine in the Colorado sunshine
Palisade is near Grand Junction, but off the beaten path which makes it one of the great places to visit in Colorado! Palisade is in the heart of Colorado’s Wine Country, and you can spend a day touring wineries and vineyards.
Palisade is also renowned for its delicious peaches and produce and you can schedule a farm tour as well.
Garden of the Gods
Take a hike at one of the most family-friendly and fun places to go in Colorado
Garden of the Gods park is one of the best places to visit in the area. The red rocks, with the Rocky Mountains behind, make a beautiful scenic picture.
The hiking trails are mostly paved, so strollers and wheelchairs can be easily pushed. Look for fun formations like the Sleeping Giant and the Kissing Camels on your walk through the park.
Tube down Clear Creek, mountain bike, and more
The town of Golden is about a twenty-minute drive from Denver, and one of the fun places to visit in Colorado that makes the state so unique. Most people associate Golden with the famous Coors Brewery tour, but there are also many other breweries and some distilleries in town also.
In Golden, you can also tube on Clear Creek, browse the quaint shops on Washington Avenue, or go hiking or mountain biking in a nearby park. Golden Gate Canyon is one of the premier places for outdoor recreation and ranks as one of Colorado’s best State Parks.
Hit the ski slopes outside this Bavarian-inspired mountain village
A lot of people know of Vail as one of the most popular places to visit in Colorado, thanks to the world-famous Vail ski resort. Don’t get me wrong, skiing is definitely a great reason to visit Vail, but there is so much more to this popular Colorado vacation spot.
Vail offers fun outdoor activities year-round. In summer, the ski gondolas convert for mountain biking. Vail also has gorgeous hiking trails, and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are free and a beautiful spot to wander and relax. Don’t forget about the world-class shopping and dining in the village, too!
Dinosaur National Monument
Discover the stories of ancient peoples, carved into these colorful cliffs
Dinosaur National Monument is on the western edge of Colorado and actually extends into Utah as well. You will, of course, learn about the dinosaurs that lived here, but you’ll also be able to view petroglyphs from early people.
You can read about the settlers and outlaws who ended up in this rocky, barren region for lots of different reasons. Like the rocks, their stories are definitely colorful! This National Monument is definitely one of the most cool places to visit in Colorado.
Colorado National Monument
Experience quintessential views of the Wild West
Colorado National Monument is in Fruita, just next to Grand Junction near the western edge of Colorado. It preserves a very Western-looking landscape, and you could easily picture John Wayne riding through the canyons here!
Take the historic Rim Rock Drive for the full view of the land, or go hiking or mountain biking in the park. Wildlife viewing is popular here — be sure to watch for bighorn sheep and eagles flying high above the park.
👉 Read Next: 9 Best Road Trips in Colorado
Explore the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park is just outside the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and is one of the must-see places in Colorado. It’s a great place to stop after visiting the park, and one of the more underrated Colorado vacation spots.
You’ll find lots of fun things to do in Estes Park. There are hiking and biking trails, or you could try horseback riding in summer, and skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and more in winter.
Estes Park is nestled in the Rockies, so whatever you do, you’ll be surrounded by amazing views of the mountains.
Visit this mountain town any time of year for spectacular sights and activities
Breckenridge is another one of those places to visit in Colorado that usually inspires thoughts of winter ski resorts. But, beyond winter, the ski town also features many incredible outdoor activities and things to do year-round.
Summer is great for hiking and there are plenty of mountain biking trails, and winter offers great skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and sleigh rides.
If you get a chance to visit in the fall, the colorful foliage in the mountains near Breckenridge is fleeting but unforgettable! The season’s yellow aspens are hands-down one of the best things to see in Colorado.
Get planning your Breckenridge trip now with our guide to where to stay in Breckenridge.
Mesa Verde National Park
Tour the largest cliff dwelling in North America
The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park are a reminder of the ingenuity of the ancient native civilizations that lived in Colorado long ago.
The cliff dwellings were built with great care so that the Ancestral Pueblo people stayed warm in winter, cool in summer, and had places to preserve food and to worship and mingle.
If you need a nearby small Colorado town to base yourself out of, Mancos is less than a ten-minute drive. Durango is a bigger town with more options for lodging and is a little over half an hour away.
Witness the charm and beauty of the “Switzerland of America”
Ouray bills itself as the Switzerland of America, and the charming town tucked into the San Juan Mountains is one of the best places to see in Colorado.
Try horseback riding, go rock climbing, or try your skills at Ouray’s ice park. The town also hosts an international film festival every June.
Climb to one of Colorado’s most iconic attractions
Hanging Lake is just a short drive from Glenwood Springs. The hike, too, is pretty short but pretty steep! You’re rewarded at the end with views of a beautiful lake that’s an unusual bluish-green shade.
The color is due to minerals that dissolve in the lake, and to keep its pristine beauty, you’re not allowed to wade or swim in the lake.
Note: Hanging Lake is temporarily closed due to mudslides, but is set to reopen on June 25, 2022.
👉 Pro Tip: When it reopens, Hanging Lake operates on a reservation system so be sure to plan ahead!
Enjoy water activities and mountain sports in this picturesque mountain town
Buena Vista sits along the Arkansas River, making it a great place to visit in Colorado for rafting. See our guide to staying in Buena Vista to plan your accommodation.
There are several hot springs for relaxing in Buena Vista as well — Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa is in town, and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort is just a short drive away.
There’s also lots of fishing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and many more outdoor activities to do in Buena Vista!
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
See a show at this world-famous music venue, one of the top places to visit in Colorado
Red Rocks is just a twenty-minute drive from downtown Denver, but one of the best places to visit in Colorado if you’re a rock fan — both the geologic and the musical kind!
The park has hiking trails where you can look for dinosaur fossils, but in the visitor center, you’ll learn about all the musical acts that have performed at Red Rocks since it was built.
📚 Related Reading: If you’re staying in Denver, be sure to check our list of the best things to do in Denver for more ideas!
Visit Colorado’s most luxurious ski town, a haven for outdoor and art lovers
Aspen has a reputation of being a playground for the rich and famous, but it’s a great place in Colorado with plenty to do — even if you’re not a multimillionaire!
You’re close to Maroon Bells and other outdoor areas. Aspen also has lots of music venues, a film festival, spas and yoga classes, horseback riding opportunities and so much more!
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to hike in the area, but don’t want to venture out on your own, this Aspen East End Light Hike takes you along hidden river trails and less traveled paths.
Red Feather Lakes Area
Raft, kayak, and fish within meditative scenery
The Red Feather Lakes area of northern Colorado is one of those less-explored places in Colorado, which makes it an attractive option if you don’t want crowds!
The Cache La Poudre River has plenty of rafting, fishing, kayaking and more water activities and the Shambhala Mountain Center is a unique Buddhist retreat where you can meditate in the midst of all this beauty.
Enjoy both water and land activities at this beautiful mountain lake
Grand Lake is just before the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, which makes it one of the best towns to visit while you spend some time in the park.
There’s also plenty to do in Grand Lake itself including boating, fishing, and hiking in summer and cross country skiing, ice fishing, and snowshoeing in winter.
Discover endless activities in Steamboat, one of the best places in Colorado to visit year-round
Steamboat Springs is another of the best places to visit in Colorado if you want to do some skiing or snowboarding! There’s a ski resort at Steamboat, and in summer you can hike, paddleboard on the lake, swim, fish, and more.
Read our full guide to the best things to do in Steamboat Springs and get planning your Colorado adventure now!
Drink craft beer and more in this northern college town
Fort Collins is a college town that’s also known for its breweries like New Belgium Brewing Company. Their popular beer, Fat Tire, pays tribute to another popular activity – mountain biking.
There are also many trails to hike near Fort Collins, and there’s plenty of shopping and great dining. In fact, Disneyland’s Main Street was modeled after Fort Collins’ downtown area.
Spot summer wildflowers and ski deep powder in this beloved destination
Crested Butte is one of the best places to visit in Colorado if you want to do some fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, golfing and so much more!
Of course, winter in Crested Butte means skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or one-of-a-kind sleigh rides through the cold winter air.
Enjoy many Colorado activities in North America’s highest incorporated city
Leadville is an old mining town that’s the highest incorporated city in the U.S. Leadville is located less than half an hour from the Copper Mountain ski resort, and you’ll find tons of fun things to do in Leadville in winter, summer, or any season.
But, for a real Colorado hidden gem, check out the even closer (and much cheaper!) Ski Cooper. Ski Cooper offers lift-accessed downhill skiing and snowboarding and is the perfect place for a kid’s first ski experience.
The next-door Tennessee Pass Nordic Center also offers groomed cross-country ski trails if you want a slower pace. In summer, the area is one of the best places to visit in Colorado for fly fishing, hiking, and biking.
👉 Read Next: Where to Stay in Leadville
Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
Whitewater raft over adrenaline-pumping rapids
The Arkansas Headwaters is one of the country’s most popular places for whitewater rafting and kayaking. The river also has excellent fishing, especially for rainbow trout.
There are lots of other outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and watching for native Colorado wildlife in the area.
The recreation area is in the town of Salida, which is a historic Colorado mountain town that’s also fun to explore.
👉 Pro Tip: Want to raft the river? This half-day Salida Canyon Rafting Tour is a great way to get your feet wet – literally!
San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway
Wind through one of Colorado’s most scenic mountain ranges
The San Juan Skyway is a 235-mile loop through many southwestern Colorado towns, that takes in many of the best places in Colorado. You can start in Durango, but you have the option to stay and visit, or spend the night, in towns including Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, or Cortez as well.
One part of this scenic byway is known as the “Million Dollar Highway,” either because there’s still plenty of gold in them thar hills, or because the views themselves are worth a million bucks.
Admire Victorian architecture and natural beauty while on a scenic train tour
Georgetown is tucked into the mountains along I-70, just under an hour’s drive from Denver. The town has historic buildings with quaint shops and restaurants, and the drive up Guanella Pass in summer and early fall is breathtaking.
You can also ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad, where you can stop for a silver mine tour or pan for gold.
📚 Read Next: If you love to travel, be sure not to miss all our guides to the best places to visit, spots to go, and destinations all around the United States. Check out our Washington state list for more inspiration on another one of the best states for outdoor lovers!
Mt. Evans Scenic Byway
Drive the highest paved road in North America
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is about a ninety-minute drive from Denver, but well worth it! You’ll be driving on the highest paved road in North America, and as you might expect, you’ll get some amazing views.
The drive ends at the top of Mt. Evans, one of Colorado’s 54 “fourteeners” – mountains that tower over 14,000 feet above sea level. Along the way, be sure to keep an eye out for mountain goats!
Oh, and be aware that Mt. Evans now requires timed entry reservations, so be sure to plan ahead. It’s not only one of the best places to visit in Colorado, but it’s one of the best attractions in the Denver area, so it fills up!
👉 Don’t miss: Our guide to the best day trips from Denver for more ideas to explore Denver and the surrounding area.
Shop ’til you drop at one of the state’s largest outlet malls
Nestled between Denver and Colorado, Castle Rock is an often overlooked place to visit in Colorado.
You’ll find more things to do in Castle Rock than you might expect: from shopping the massive outlet malls to climbing the rock that gives the city its name, to brewery hopping, and even ziplining.
🚚 Moving to Colorado? Check out my list of the best places to live in Colorado.
Explore miles and miles of trails in the Indian Peaks Wilderness
Nederland is one of the best places to visit in Colorado during the fall. Autumn is when the leaves on the aspens are turning gorgeous shades of bright yellow all around Nederland.
It’s fun the rest of the year, too, with hikes in the Indian Peaks wilderness, or skiing at the nearby Eldora Mountain Resort. Nederland is also along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, so you can take a drive for even more views.
That’s it for some of the best places to visit in Colorado. You can also check out our guide to staying in Colorado for more ideas.
Scroll down and leave a comment telling us your favorite Colorado destination or place to visit in Colorado!
I hope I’ve helped you discover some of the best places to visit in Colorado.