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Colorado

Colorado

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

8.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Another western state that appeals to all, but is strongest among persons measuring higher on Venturesomeness

Did You Know…?

  • The U.S. federal government owns more than a third of the land in Colorado.
  • America’s largest silver nugget (1,840 pounds/93% pure) was found in Aspen in 1894.
  • Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the U.S. at 10,430 feet.
  • Colorado is the only U.S. state to turn down the Olympics (1976).
  • More than 400,000 people climb the 14,110-foot Pikes Peak each year.

The West epitomized

Colorado epitomizes much of what fans of the American West love — whether the Wild West of the 19th century or the modern but still-unspoiled West of the 21st century.
It has the geography — meaning rolling prairies, rivers and, especially, the mountains — and a temperate climate, an ideal combination for a wide range of outdoor activities. It has the history, encompassing ghost towns (some deserted, some revived), wagon trails, 19th century trains and abandoned cliff dwellings.

Colorado bespeaks a certain lifestyle, too, represented by fresh mountain air, ranching, rodeos, specialty beers and good food.

The state most often gets its top ratings from travelers for its stunning mountain scenery, as well as the outdoor activities that those mountains make possible in all seasons. Snow skiing is the top activity tourists seek in Colorado, followed by hiking, rock climbing, fishing, river rafting, horseback riding and observing nature and wildlife. Travelers also talk about the clean, pure air, about the unspoiled natural beauty that surrounds them in the state.

The state wins points for other reasons, too. It brews more beer than any state in facilities ranging from tiny brew pubs to the giant Coors. Colorado is also establishing a wine industry; wineries are found along the Front Range and across the western slope of the state.

The Rocky Mountain National Park is the best known of the state’s four national parks, but Mesa Verde National Park has a special claim to fame. A World Heritage Site, it is home to dramatic and authentic cliff dwellings — even “stone palaces” — dating back more than a thousand years.

As to more recent history, there’s the Old West, with relics like ghost towns. Several vendors provide train rides that capture the imagination, as well.

Although seen as an outdoorsy state, Colorado entices within doors, too, with museums (themed around mining, dinosaurs, prison life, etc.), theater (even an annual Shakespeare Festival in Boulder) and fine dining in Denver or the ski resorts of Aspen, Breckinridge, Steamboat Springs or Vail.

Those who are budget-minded, or who travel with families, talk about the reasonable prices, as well as Colorado’s easy accessibility.

Things to do for Venturers

  • For those fit and ready to ski nonstop, consider the Molas Pass back country in the rugged San Juan Mountains. Or try heli-skiing with Telluride Helitrax, also in the San Juans.
  • Go ice climbing at Ouray Ice Park.
  • Hike the Colorado Trail, which stretches 500 miles from Denver to Durango, passing over eight mountain ranges along five river systems, and traversing six national forests and six wilderness areas. It has 28 segments, ranging from 11.4 miles to 32 miles, and elevation gains in given segments range from 1,040 to 4,520 feet. Look at length, elevation gain and altitude to select the right segment(s) for you.
  • Rafting is popular on almost every river in the state, and you can request challenging choices — or not-so-challenging choices.
  • See the two-time Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos play.
  • Do a fall foliage tour the Rockies way. View the changing aspens while biking, hiking or horseback riding.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Look for and tour a few wineries in the picturesque town of Palisade.
  • Ride the rails of one of Colorado’s several vintage railroads.
  • Spend the day at one of the state’s numerous rodeos. Grand County in northern Colorado claims at least one rodeo event every weekend May through September.
  • Stay at a guest ranch. Also, visit a ghost town — which may or may not have residents these days.
  • Take the free tour of the Coors brewery in Golden; make the rounds of smaller brew pubs in the state. Denver alone boasts 50 unique beer choices produced at about a dozen brew pubs.
  • Take time for the Museum of Colorado Prisons, the former Women’s Correctional Facility, in Canon City. It displays a gas chamber and hangman’s noose (both used) and offers a tour of 32 cells.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take the family to Royal Gorge Bridge, near Canon City. The bridge is said to be the highest suspension bridge in the world, and the park features an incline railway, aerial tram, scenic trails and children’s attractions.
  • Visit Salida in south central Colorado, for its art galleries and one of its monthly art walks; you also can go biking, hiking and fly-fishing here year-round.
  • Explore the Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. Its cliffs and canyons contain some of the largest and best-preserved cliff dwellings (dating from 600 to 1300 A.D.) of the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians.  Indeed, travelers in any category will enjoy this park if they have an interest in Native American history.
  • Put Central City on your itinerary. It is an old mountain mining town that offers all the charm of narrow winding roads, an opera festival and, more recently, legalized gambling.
  • Check for local festivals and fairs in areas that appeal to you. One of the odder choices is the Great Fruitcake Toss, which promises rewards for the most creative uses of past-their-season cakes, as well as the chance to heave those old things for prizes.
  • Visit the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater west of Denver to see a concert hall created by two sandstone monoliths brought to us by Mother Nature.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Colorado Tourism at www.colorado.com