Do you intend to travel to Colorado this year? The most beautiful places to visit in Colorado are listed here. These lovely locations and landscapes will surely impress you.
Escape everyday life and immerse yourself in the unmatched grandeur of the Centennial State. From the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the mystical landscapes of the Great Sand Dunes, Colorado abounds with natural splendors. Here, every winding trail, every sweeping vista is a love letter to the wilderness. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a casual traveler looking for an unforgettable journey, the most beautiful places in Colorado beckon you with an irresistible allure.
Exploring the best places to visit in Colorado is akin to diving headfirst into a living painting where majestic mountains meet clear, azure skies. It’s where alpine meadows teem with vibrant wildflowers. The quaint little towns tell tales of the old west. The most scenic places in Colorado aren’t just easy on the eyes. They offer a myriad of outdoor adventures – from skiing to hiking, white water rafting to tranquil fly fishing.
As you sift through our list of places to visit in Colorado, you will be enchanted by the state’s diversity. The most beautiful cities in Colorado nestle amidst landscapes that would put many a postcard to shame.
The best places in Colorado aren’t just about natural beauty. They’re about feeling the chill of fresh mountain air on your face, hearing the quiet hum of nature. They are about visiting Colorado and feeling alive in the most profound sense. Welcome to your guide to the must-see in Colorado.
The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Colorado
Excited to dive into all the most captivating locations in Colorado? As highlighted above, there’s something for everyone in this stunning Western state. So keep reading to explore the breath-taking scenery that Colorado has to offer.
Are you seeking picturesque cities and rich cultural attractions? Or are you yearning for a tranquil retreat amidst nature? Whatever your itinerary entails, Colorado is ready to meet your desires. Here are all the top spots in CO that you should be aware of:
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
Experience the heart of the wilderness at the Rocky Mountain National Park, a staple on any list of the most beautiful places in Colorado. One of the highest national parks in the USA, it is a wonderland of towering peaks, and abundant wildlife. It offers spectacular alpine landscapes. At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak stands as a crown jewel of the park, visible from nearly every corner. It is a magnificent sight to behold.
Every season paints the park in a new light. As spring arrives, meadows burst into a symphony of colors with wildflowers dotting the landscape, while autumn swathes the park in warm hues. Snowfall turns it into a winter wonderland, perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
If you’re visiting Colorado, the park’s 300 miles of hiking trails are a must-explore, leading you to tranquil mountain lakes, powerful waterfalls, and viewpoints. It offers panoramas that stretch as far as the eye can see. The most famous of these is the Trail Ridge Road. This trail takes you on a journey through the clouds and is often hailed as a highway to the sky.
A stay at the park isn’t complete without a glimpse of its rich wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, bighorn sheep, and if you’re lucky, the elusive moose. For birdwatchers, the park is home to over 280 species of birds. This makes it a paradise for avian enthusiasts.
2. Maroon Bells
When it comes to the prettiest places in Colorado, few can compare to the sheer splendor of Maroon Bells. Tucked away in the White River National Forest, Maroon Bells are two imposing peaks standing tall at over 14,000 feet. Named for their distinct bell shape and the maroon hue of their iron-stained cliffs, they are a stunning sight, especially when mirrored on the crystal-clear Maroon Lake.
Hailed as the most photographed spot in Colorado, Maroon Bells offers picture-perfect panoramas in every season. In summer, the verdant aspen forests form a vibrant backdrop, while autumn drapes the area in dazzling gold and red hues. Winter sees the peaks wreathed in snow, creating a mesmerizing winter wonderland.
Take a scenic drive or ride a bike to this unique place to visit in Colorado. It basks in its otherworldly beauty. The Maroon Lake Scenic Trail is an easy 1-mile round trip, leading you through aspen groves and along the tranquil lake’s edge. It offers a front-row view of the iconic peaks. For the more adventurous, the challenging Maroon Bells South Ridge and Maroon Peak Trails beckon, providing breathtaking vistas from the summits.
Beyond its visual appeal, Maroon Bells is also home to a rich variety of wildlife. Watch out for mule deer, foxes, and pikas. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a moose or a black bear from a safe distance.
3. Garden of the Gods
With towering red rock formations set against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods is a sight to behold. Designated as a National Natural Landmark, this public park is a geological wonder. It is undoubtedly one of the best places in Colorado.
The unique sandstone formations, some reaching up to 300 feet, date back millions of years. This includes intriguing shapes like the Kissing Camels and Balanced Rock. A visit to the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center will not only provide a wealth of information about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna but also stunning views of the park.
Visitors have a multitude of ways to explore the park’s 15 miles of trails from hiking. It is horseback riding to rock climbing for the adventurous. The Perkins Central Garden Trail, a paved, wheelchair-accessible path, meanders through the heart of the park’s largest and most picturesque formations.
A rich variety of wildlife calls the park home, including mule deer, bighorn sheep, and over 130 species of birds. Early morning or dusk visits might reward you with serene wildlife encounters. With its captivating beauty and plethora of activities, visiting Colorado is incomplete without a stop at the Garden of the Gods.
4. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Venture off the beaten path to one of Colorado’s beautiful places: the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, the park is a vast landscape of shifting sands against the backdrop of the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This contrast of desert and alpine ecosystems is an awe-inspiring sight, making it a must-see in Colorado.
The park offers a host of outdoor activities, with sandboarding and sand sledding being the most popular. Hike to the top of the towering High Dune for a panoramic view of the entire dune field. Or, for a serene experience, stroll along Medano Creek. This appears at the foot of the dunes in spring and early summer.
After nightfall, the park transforms into one of the best places in Colorado for stargazing. It boasts clear, dark skies perfect for taking in the grandeur of the Milky Way. The park’s location away from city lights makes it an International Dark Sky Park, a recognition of its exceptional night skies.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the park’s diverse wildlife and plants. From kangaroo rats in the sand dunes to salamanders in the alpine lakes, the park is home to species that have adapted to its wide range of environments. The park’s diversity truly sets it apart, marking it as a prime spot when visiting Colorado.
5. Mesa Verde National Park
Step back in time at Mesa Verde National Park, one of Colorado’s most beautiful places and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, the park offers a fascinating peek into a culture that thrived over 700 years ago.
The star attraction is undoubtedly the Cliff Palace, thought to be the largest cliff dwelling in North America. Its intricate architecture, featuring 150 rooms and 23 kivas (ceremonial spaces), is an impressive sight. Guided tours are available to help visitors delve deeper into the history and cultural significance of this ancient home.
Don’t miss the Balcony House, with its 40 rooms. Its two kivas are accessible only by climbing a 32-foot ladder and crawling through a narrow tunnel. The Long House, located on Wetherill Mesa, is the second-largest dwelling in the park. It offers a glimpse into the daily lives of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Apart from its cultural heritage, Mesa Verde boasts a stunning natural landscape, with wildflowers blooming in spring. It is also a bright palette of colors in fall, as hiking trails wind through canyons and juniper forests. Mesa Verde offers the chance to spot wildlife such as mule deer, coyotes, and over 200 species of birds. This blend of cultural and natural attractions makes Mesa Verde one of the best places to visit in Colorado.
6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Renowned for its dramatic cliffs and striking rock formations, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is undoubtedly one of Colorado’s beautiful places. The park showcases the raw power of the Gunnison River. This river has carved a deep and narrow gorge into the earth over millions of years.
The canyon’s name comes from the fact that some parts of the gorge receive only 33 minutes of sunlight a day. This, combined with the stark, sheer cliffs, gives the canyon an otherworldly feel. One of the most notable sights is the Painted Wall, the tallest cliff in Colorado, adorned with intricate patterns created by lighter-colored pegmatite veins.
For the adventurous, the park offers challenging hiking trails, technical rock climbing routes, and gold medal waters for fishing. The South Rim Road provides a more leisurely way to take in the breathtaking views with 12 overlooks. It offers different perspectives of the canyon’s depth and breadth.
In addition to its dramatic landscapes, the park is home to a diverse array of wildlife. Look out for mule deer, elk, and a variety of birds, including peregrine falcons and the endangered Black Swift. If you’re wondering where to go in Colorado for stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity, look no further than the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
7. Pikes Peak
One of the most famous summits in the United States, Pikes Peak, is a standout among the most beautiful places in Colorado. Often referred to as ‘America’s Mountain,’ Pikes Peak towers at over 14,000 feet above sea level. It is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts from around the world.
The peak offers several ways to reach its summit. The Barr Trail, spanning 13 miles and ascending over 7,500 feet, is a challenging but rewarding trek. If you prefer a less strenuous route, the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile drive, offers stunning panoramic views as it winds its way up to the summit.
For those seeking a unique experience, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog train, offers a leisurely journey to the peak’s summit. From the top, the view is unmatched, spanning as far as the eye can see, and on a clear day, even the skyscrapers of downtown Denver are visible.
The surrounding area, Pikes Peak Region, boasts a host of attractions. This includes the Cave of the Winds, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and the stunning Garden of the Gods. With its high altitude adventure and breathtaking vistas, Pikes Peak is unquestionably one of the best places to visit in Colorado.
Tucked away in a box canyon and surrounded by towering peaks, Telluride is a charming mountain town that’s earned a place among the most beautiful cities in Colorado. Whether it’s the snow-covered winters or the wildflower-filled summers, Telluride’s stunning scenery is breathtaking every season.
Telluride’s history as a Victorian mining town is preserved in its downtown area, which is a National Historic Landmark District. Stroll through the quaint streets lined with colorful Victorian homes, art galleries, boutiques, and gourmet restaurants.
Telluride is also known as a world-class ski destination. The Telluride Ski Resort offers 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. It is a diverse range of runs, from beginner-friendly slopes to challenging off-piste trails. The free, scenic Gondola connects Telluride with Mountain Village, a European-style alpine resort village, providing stunning panoramic views along the way.
Summer unveils a whole new side to Telluride. Hiking and mountain biking trails wind through alpine meadows, by waterfalls, and up to high peaks. The Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Film Festival draw visitors from around the world, combining natural beauty with cultural events. This mix of outdoor adventure and charming town life makes Telluride a standout when visiting Colorado.
9. Crystal Mill
For a journey into Colorado’s past, take the off-road trail to Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed sites in the state. Nestled on the banks of the Crystal River near the town of Marble, this iconic wooden powerhouse from the 1890s is one of the best places in Colorado for photographers and history buffs.
The journey to Crystal Mill is a rugged adventure, best tackled in a 4×4 vehicle or on foot. The trek promises incredible views of the Elk Mountains, verdant forests, and the cascading river, culminating in the sight of the old mill against a backdrop of steep cliffs and vibrant fall colors.
The mill itself is privately owned and closed to the public, but visitors are welcome to photograph this testament to Colorado’s mining history from the outside. A visit to Crystal Mill is like stepping back in time. It offers a glimpse into the state’s rich heritage while surrounded by natural beauty.
Aspen, a jewel nestled in the Rocky Mountains, is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. Its natural beauty is a breathtaking panorama of towering mountains, vast wildflower meadows, and shimmering aspen groves that burst into a vibrant gold each fall. This town, originally a silver mining hub, now is world-renowned for its stunning ski slopes that cater to winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.
Aspen is not just a winter wonderland; it transforms with each season, offering an array of year-round activities. In summer, its mountains and trails offer exceptional hiking and biking opportunities, where each turn reveals another awe-inspiring view. And for the fishing aficionados, pristine rivers brim with trout, making fly fishing an immensely popular pastime.
Aspen’s downtown is a harmonious blend of Victorian-era buildings and modern architecture, filled with an array of gourmet restaurants, sophisticated boutiques, and art galleries. The Aspen Music Festival and the Aspen Ideas Festival are among many cultural highlights that attract a diverse crowd to this mountain paradise.
In essence, Aspen is a perfect synthesis of natural grandeur and cultural vibrancy, making it a must-visit destination in Colorado. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or art enthusiast, Aspen offers an experience that’s hard to forget.
Rich in history and surrounded by natural beauty, Durango is one of the most beautiful cities in Colorado. Founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1880, the city has preserved its Old West charm. It offers a perfect mix of outdoor adventure, cultural attractions, and historic sites.
One of the city’s highlights is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This historic steam train takes visitors on a scenic journey through the San Juan Mountains, passing rugged canyons, the Animas River, and remote wilderness.
For the outdoor enthusiasts, Durango is a paradise, offering access to hiking, biking, and river rafting. It’s also the gateway to Mesa Verde National Park, with its fascinating Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings, and the San Juan National Forest, a haven for hikers and wildlife watchers.
Downtown Durango, with its preserved Victorian buildings, hosts a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants, offering something for everyone. Be sure to explore the local craft beer scene, as Durango is home to several award-winning microbreweries. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, Durango offers a unique experience when visiting Colorado.
12. Crested Butte
Famed as the ‘Wildflower Capital of Colorado,’ Crested Butte offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and small-town charm that truly sets it apart. This quaint mountain town, nestled in the heart of the Rockies, turns into a riot of colors in the summer when countless wildflowers bloom across its meadows.
Crested Butte is also renowned for its excellent skiing opportunities in the winter, with the Crested Butte Mountain Resort providing a variety of terrains for all skill levels. If skiing isn’t your thing, snowshoeing or fat biking through the snow-blanketed landscapes can be equally thrilling.
Year-round, the town itself captivates visitors with its colorful Victorian buildings, delightful restaurants, and lively arts scene. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a culture enthusiast, Crested Butte is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Colorado.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in Colorado
Looking to enhance your understanding of the most scenic spots in Colorado? Here are some common questions I receive frequently about the best Colorado attractions and activities.
What’s the prettiest place in Colorado?
It’s hard to choose just one when discussing the most beautiful places in Colorado, as the state is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. However, many people are particularly taken with the Maroon Bells. This pair of mountain peaks reflected in Maroon Lake, surrounded by wildflowers and aspen groves, is one of the most photographed sites in North America. Whether you’re hiking in the summer, leaf-peeping in the fall, or snowshoeing in the winter, the Maroon Bells are a sight to behold at any time of the year.
What is the best time to visit Colorado?
Colorado is a year-round destination. For skiing and snowboarding, winter (December to March) is the best time. For hiking, biking, and camping, summer (June to August) offers warm weather and beautiful wildflowers. Fall (September to November) is less crowded and offers beautiful fall foliage, especially in places like the Maroon Bells.
What part of Colorado is beautiful?
Colorado, often referred to as the “Centennial State,” is brimming with beautiful spots from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the rolling grasslands of the eastern plains. Here are some highlights:
- The Rocky Mountain National Park offers breathtaking mountain views, wildflower meadows, and abundant wildlife. It’s a paradise for hikers, climbers, and wildlife enthusiasts.
- Aspen, a world-renowned ski resort town, is famous for its stunning landscapes which include the Maroon Bells, two of the most photographed peaks in North America.
- Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, with its unique red rock formations set against Pikes Peak, offers a spectacular natural setting that is popular for hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding.
- Telluride, located in a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains, is known for its beautiful historic district and its exceptional skiing opportunities.
- The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. It offers a unique, desert-like landscape that contrasts beautifully with the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
- Mesa Verde National Park is another must-visit destination, known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings.
- Boulder offers a blend of natural beauty and a vibrant downtown area. The Flatirons, the iconic rock formations overlooking the city, provide a stunning backdrop and numerous recreational opportunities.
These are just a few examples of the stunning beauty that Colorado has to offer. Each corner of the state holds its own unique charm and breathtaking vistas.
How many days do I need to visit Colorado?
A week is a good starting point to explore a few key destinations, but with so many beautiful places in Colorado, you could easily spend a few weeks or even a month exploring.
Is Colorado expensive to visit?
Cost can vary depending on where you go and what you do. Ski resort towns like Aspen and Vail can be more expensive, especially in peak season. However, activities like hiking in national parks or exploring the state’s natural beauty can be quite affordable.
What should I not miss in Colorado?
Colorado offers a wealth of natural and cultural attractions. Don’t miss the Rocky Mountain National Park, the historic towns of Durango and Telluride, the stunning Maroon Bells, and the unique red rock formations of the Garden of the Gods.
What are the best outdoor activities in Colorado?
Colorado is an outdoor paradise, offering activities like hiking, biking, rock climbing, white-water rafting, skiing, and snowboarding. Wildlife watching is also popular, with opportunities to see animals like elk, bighorn sheep, and moose.
Which part of Colorado has the best views?
All corners of Colorado are rich with stunning landscapes, but for arguably the best views in Colorado, head to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Known as a “roof of the world”, this national park offers stunning panoramas from its numerous peaks and trails. The Trail Ridge Road, which crests over 12,000 feet, provides spectacular vistas of alpine tundra, towering mountains, and lush valleys. Whether you’re standing at the foot of Longs Peak or gazing out over Bear Lake, the park’s magnificent vistas never fail to impress.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Colorado
Colorado, known for its remarkable landscapes and vibrant cities, is an outdoor paradise with endless opportunities for adventure. From the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountain National Park to the charming streets of Durango, from the awe-inspiring Maroon Bells to the historic steam train journey in Telluride, the most beautiful places in Colorado each offer unique experiences that cater to every type of traveler.
Whether you’re an avid hiker looking to conquer the highest peaks, a history buff interested in the state’s rich past, a wildlife enthusiast eager to spot elusive animals, or simply someone in search of serene beauty and tranquillity, Colorado offers it all. No matter where your interests lie, there is a destination in Colorado waiting to be explored.
Embarking on a journey through Colorado is not just about visiting a place. It’s about immersing yourself in diverse experiences, feeling the thrill of adventure, appreciating nature’s grandeur, and creating memories that last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pack your bags and discover the best places in Colorado for an unforgettable adventure.