Colorado, with its majestic mountains, serene hot springs, and lush aspen forests, is not just a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a burgeoning hub for new residents. Its diverse landscape, ranging from snow-capped peaks to verdant valleys, has long been a draw for tourists seeking beauty and adventure. In recent years, moving companies like Skyline Moving have noted an uptick in the number of people not just visiting but also moving to Colorado, attracted by its natural splendor and the vibrant lifestyle it offers.
The state’s scenic beauty has been a significant factor in this trend, with many tourists turning into residents after experiencing the breathtaking vistas and the outdoor lifestyle. Below, we delve into the 12 most breathtaking places in the state, each offering its own unique and stunning vistas, from towering rock formations to tranquil lakes, which have captured the hearts of visitors and new residents alike.
1. Garden of the Gods
Majestic Rock Formations
In Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods awaits with its awe-inspiring rock formations that challenge the laws of physics. This National Natural Landmark, spanning 1,367 acres, is a geological wonder with its red rocks thrown into surreal shapes by ancient seismic forces. The park’s trails weave through these natural sculptures, creating a surreal landscape that captivates all who visit.
Adjacent to the park lies the Cave of the Winds, a 500-million-year-old cave system offering an underground adventure. Though photography is challenging in the dimly lit caves, the experience is unforgettable. The park’s accessibility, with paved trails and parking, makes it a welcoming destination for visitors using mobility aids.
2. Mesa Verde National Park
Ancestral Puebloan Heritage
Mesa Verde National Park, near Durango in southern Colorado, stands as a testament to ancient Puebloan culture. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the best-preserved ancestral Puebloan dwellings, including cliff houses and stone-crafted kivas. The park’s more than 4,700 archaeological sites offer a journey through time, allowing visitors to walk amidst the remnants of a long-gone civilization.
Panoramic Views and Accessibility
Mesa Verde’s landscape is as breathtaking as its historical significance. The panoramic views from the plateau extend deep into valleys, presenting a visual feast. The park also offers accessibility guides to ensure visitors with limited mobility, vision, or hearing impairments can fully enjoy the experience.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
A Desert in the Mountains
Nestled in the San Luis Valley, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve presents a landscape that defies expectations. Home to the nation’s tallest sand dune, the Star Dune, the park juxtaposes towering dunes against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The contrast of the dunes with the surrounding mountainous terrain creates a surreal and captivating sight.
Recreational Activities and Accessibility
The park is a haven for adventure enthusiasts. Visitors can rent sleds or snowboards for sandboarding, a unique experience on the shifting sands. For those with limited mobility, specially designed sand wheelchairs are available, ensuring everyone can explore this remarkable landscape.
4. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near the towns of Gunnison and Montrose, is an awe-inspiring sight. Its steep black walls form a narrow gorge, carved through millennia by the Gunnison River. The park’s star attraction, the Painted Wall, stands as the state’s highest vertical rock face, adorned with intricate pink and white markings.
Visitors can explore the park through various activities such as hiking, camping, and kayaking. For those with limited mobility, the South Rim offers accessible campsites, restrooms, and overlooks, ensuring everyone can experience the park’s majestic beauty.
5. The Million Dollar Highway
Scenic Road Trip
Connecting the southwestern towns of Colorado, the Million Dollar Highway offers a picturesque journey through the state’s rich mining history and natural wonders. This route crosses several notable spots, including the vibrant Victorian town of Silverton and the ghostly remnants of Animas Forks, a forgotten mining town.
Diverse Attractions Along the Way
The journey along this highway is an adventure in itself, passing ancient hot springs, the expansive San Juan National Forest, the charming town of Ouray, and the towering Box Canyon waterfall. Each stop on the highway tells a different story, making it a must-drive for any visitor to Colorado.
6. Maroon Bells
Near Aspen, the Maroon Bells stand as two of Colorado’s most iconic peaks. These mountains, famous for their distinct maroon hue and symmetrical shape, are among the most photographed in the nation. The landscape around the Maroon Bells is a harmonious blend of alpine lakes, lush meadows, and dense forests, offering a quintessential Rocky Mountain experience.
In addition to the peaks themselves, the surrounding area, including Independence Pass Summit, is particularly stunning in the fall. The aspen trees put on a dazzling display of golden hues, while the high vantage point of the pass allows for sweeping views of the Rockies, including numerous fourteeners.
7. Royal Gorge
A Bridge Over Breathtaking Depths
The Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City is not just a bridge but an architectural marvel and a gateway to spectacular views. As the highest suspension bridge in the United States, it offers a thrilling walk with vistas stretching across the valley. Gazing down into the 1,200-foot-deep canyon below is an experience like no other, making it a top destination for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Multiple Ways to Experience the Gorge
Besides the bridge, the Royal Gorge Park offers various ways to experience its grandeur. The park’s gondola rides provide an aerial view of the gorge, and its wheelchair-accessible facilities ensure that the experience is inclusive. Additionally, visitors can explore the gorge from the waters below on a white-water rafting adventure, adding an adrenaline rush to the scenic beauty.
8. Bridal Veil Falls
Colorado’s Tallest Waterfall
Bridal Veil Falls, near the picturesque town of Telluride, is a sight to behold. As Colorado’s tallest waterfall, it cascades 365 feet down into the canyon, creating a stunning backdrop for photographs and nature walks. The falls are accessible via a hike or a four-wheel drive, making it a versatile destination for different types of adventurers.
After visiting the falls, guests are encouraged to explore Telluride, a historic Victorian mining town nestled in a box canyon. Telluride is not only a summer destination but also a renowned winter sports location, offering year-round enjoyment of its scenic beauty and outdoor activities.
9. Hanging Lake
A Lake Suspended on a Cliff
Hanging Lake, located near Glenwood, is a geological marvel. This rare lake, designated as a national natural landmark, appears to cling to the edge of a mountain, its clear waters reflecting the surrounding greenery. Gentle waterfalls feed into the lake, enhancing its ethereal beauty and making it a photographer’s paradise.
Access and Preservation
Access to Hanging Lake requires a permit, ensuring the protection of its delicate ecosystem. The hike to the lake is short but challenging, rewarding visitors with its breathtaking views. Trails can become crowded, so an early morning weekday visit is recommended for a more serene experience.
10. Trail Ridge Road
A Road Above the Clouds
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is an engineering feat and a natural spectacle. As the highest continuous paved road in North America, it offers unparalleled views of the Rocky Mountains, with visibility extending as far as Wyoming. The road itself is a historic landmark, providing a unique perspective of the park’s diverse landscapes.
Traveling this road feels like traversing the rooftop of the world, with views that seem to stretch to the planet’s edge. The elevation and open vistas provide a breathtaking experience, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Colorado’s high country.
11. Pikes Peak
A Fourteener for Everyone
Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, is one of Colorado’s most accessible fourteeners. Its summit, at 14,115 feet, offers stunning panoramic views that are attainable without the exertion of a hike. Visitors can ascend the peak via the world’s highest cog train, experiencing the thrill of reaching a fourteener’s summit with ease.
Accessibility and Convenience
The cog train ride to Pikes Peak is an adventure in itself, combining historical charm with modern convenience. It’s a great option for those who wish to experience the grandeur of Colorado’s high mountains without the physical demands of hiking, making the stunning views atop Pikes Peak accessible to a broader range of visitors.
12. Seven Falls
Colorado’s Most Famous Waterfall
The Broadmoor Seven Falls in Colorado Springs is a sight of unparalleled beauty. Featuring seven cascading waterfalls dropping 181 feet from South Cheyenne Creek, the site offers a picturesque blend of prairie and canyon landscapes. The Pillars of Hercules, rising 900 feet above the canyon, frame the falls dramatically.
A Full-Fledged Attraction
Beyond the waterfalls, Seven Falls is a hub of activity, offering hiking, ziplining, dining, and shopping. The site is privately owned and accessible through The Broadmoor resort, providing a luxurious backdrop to the natural beauty. While the shuttles to the falls are wheelchair accessible, the trails and stairs leading to the top of the falls may pose accessibility challenges.
Each of these 12 destinations in Colorado offers a unique and unforgettable experience, showcasing the state’s diverse and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Whether it’s the towering peaks, serene waterfalls, or historic landmarks, Colorado’s landscapes are a must-see for any nature lover or adventure seeker.