By Gigi Fulham.
Visiting Colorado is like taking a step back in time. The air is clean, the scenery is breathtaking, and the people are friendly. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all and enjoy some of the best nature has to offer, then Colorado is the perfect destination. It’s home to some of the most beautiful national parks in the country.
There are dozens of amazing natural parks to explore in Colorado, but here are our top five picks:
As one of the most popular national parks in the country, Rocky Mountain National Park is a must-visit for any nature lover. The park is home to majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding.
Situated between Estes Park and Grand Lake in Colorado, this park is a tribute to the Rocky Mountains. It captures the natural beauty of the region with high-mountain lakes and streams, peaks more than 14,000 feet tall, thick evergreen forests, and thousands of acres of wildlife. This is one national park that definitely deserves a spot on your travel itinerary! With plenty to see and do, it’s no wonder the popularity of this city endures.
You can find lodgings in the pretty communities surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park, or you could also camp inside the park.
The Mesa Verde National Park, located in the southwest of Colorado near Cortez, is one of the most popular tourist destinations for those who want to explore and learn more about Ancestral Puebloan culture. With well-preserved dwellings and a rich history dating back hundreds of years, there is no shortage of things to see and do at this unique national park.
Upon Mesa Verde tours, guests are able to use ladders to access the cliff dwellings, which are secured into the walls. There, park rangers offer explanations and insights into what daily life was like for Ancestral Puebloans who constructed these adobe homes.
A one-hour walking tour of Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling featuring multiple living enclaves and buildings. You’ll need to do some light climbing and hiking since the route involves descending 100 feet over broken steps and then ascending a series of 8-foot ladders to reach and leave the site.
Other popular Mesa Verde National Park attractions include Spruce Tree House, Balcony House, and Long House. If you’re looking for an activity-filled vacation that offers a unique cultural experience, Mesa Verde is the perfect place for you!
3. GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE
The Rocky Mountains at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado have the tallest dunes in America, with some as high as 750 feet. The dune field itself covers 30 square miles and is located near Alamosa.
If you’re not into driving on the dunes, don’t worry — there are plenty of hiking trails within the park, as well as a challenging 4×4 trail along Medano Pass. The pass stretches for about 25 miles from Gardner town to inside the park itself.
Year-round, park visitors can ski, snowboard, or sled down the dunes just like they would on any other Colorado ski slope. If you’re interested in trying it out yourself, find the steepest part of a dune and point yourself downwards; gravity will do the rest.
4. BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
If you’re looking for a breathtaking natural wonder, look no further than the Black Canyon of the Gunnison near Montrose. This 53-mile gorge features sheer black walls that plunge up to 2,700 feet, revealing millions of years of geologic history. The canyon has been a popular destination for explorers and outdoor enthusiasts since its documented European discovery in the 1700s.
Did you know that the Denver and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad used to travel through this fissure years ago? Now, there is a railroad museum set up in its honor as well as ranger talks held frequently throughout the park.
This national park has many outdoor activities that will suit everyone at your party. With options like auto touring, wildlife viewing, camping, cross-country skiing, and more, you’ll have a hard time deciding which ones to do first!
Canyonlands National Park is a unique and otherworldly place located in southeastern Utah near the town of Moab. The park is divided into four sections, each with its own distinct character: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon.
Island in the Sky is the most popular section, as it is closest to Moab and has the easiest access to many of the park’s best viewpoints. The Needles is great for hiking and backpacking, while The Maze is the most remote and challenging area to explore.
Horseshoe Canyon contains some of the best-known rock art in the park, which is why many visitors make the trek out here. There are also a few easy hikes that lead to stunning views of the canyon.
No matter which section you choose to explore, you’re sure to be blown away by the beauty of Canyonlands National Park!
Summing up the Natural Parks
Now, let’s get to the logistics details of your visit to these amazing parks. First, you’ll need to purchase a National Parks pass, which will give you access to all of the parks on this list.
Then, consider booking a Denver car service to get you to and from the airport, as well as to each of the parks. With a reliable transportation service, you can sit back and relax on your trip, knowing that everything is taken care of.
Make a list of the activities you want to do in each park, and don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes and camera!
And lastly, remember to pack your sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses! The Colorado sun can be intense, so make sure you’re prepared.
Now that you know a little bit more about some of Colorado’s top natural parks, it’s time to start planning your trip! With so many incredible places to see, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Have you adventured in any of these parks? If so what was your experience? If not, do you plan to go? Please share your comments below.
*Source of images used here is unsplash.com