Colorado is probably best known for its professional athletic teams, skiing, and for being the home of the Mile-High City. What many people don’t realize is that there is a huge variety of things to do in Colorado year round. Here are just some of our favorite activities.
The Centennial State is a haven for running, cycling, and triathlons. Most cities and towns have plenty of greenbelt pathways for runners and bicyclists. If you’re so inclined, there is even a route that will take you from Denver to Colorado Springs in the south end of the state.
There are plenty of trails for running, including paved and dirt, all over the state. Colorado is home to the one of the most challenging 100-mile foot races in the world—the Leadville 100. One of my favorite half marathons is the Breck Crest Mountain Marathon. It’s a great challenge, and the scenery, fellow participants, and aid stations are all fantastic.
On the western side of the state, the Colorado Rim Rock Marathon is one of the most scenic marathons in the US. Sure, the first half is all uphill, but the rest is downhill! Aid stations have a competition against each other, so you’ll have a lot of fun stopping by the stations.
And if you’re a cyclist looking for a bit more of a challenge, there is a 100-mile mountain biking event also based in Leadville as well as the grueling 120-mile Triple Bypass which boasts over 10,000 feet of elevation gain.
Mountain bikers are not left out with many trails being for cyclists only.
Don’t fret, there are tons of low-key events for those who prefer to breathe a little easier.
With over 300 days of sunshine and a culture based on the outdoors, it’s no wonder Colorado is the skinniest state in the US.
Obviously, skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts will have a great time, but many of the mountain towns have some superb snowshoeing areas, too. I love the sound of snow crunching beneath my shoes while traipsing in the backwoods. If you’re a little more competitive, I’d highly recommend the Screaming Yeti 5/10K and the snowshoe ultra Turqouise Lake 20-miler.
After all that cycling, running, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, etc., you need to be able to quench your thirst. Colorado has a plethora of microbreweries located all over the state. One of my absolute favorite local beers is Tommyknocker Nut Brown Ale. I love it so much if you offer me this or a Guinness, I’ll probably have to go with the Tommyknocker.
If you’re into trying something a little different, the Nepalese-Tibetan restaurant Yak & Yeti based in Arvada (near Denver) has a chai milk stout that is absolutely phenomenal.
The state boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails and is home to the infamous Colorado Trail, a 486-mile hike going from Denver to Durango. It passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the state.
One of the nice things about the Denver area is that you are incredibly close to wonderful hiking trails.
If going up the side of a mountain isn’t your thing, remember the wonderful greenbelts and pedestrian paths.
If you have time, head to Glenwood Springs and hike up to Hanging Lake. It’s one of the most unusual places in the world and was designated as a National Natural Landmark. You’ll be amazed by its beauty.
Colorado has 2 wonderful zoos and a wild animal sanctuary. The Denver Zoo just recently completed a pretty impressive 10-acre elephant exhibit. The zoo is located downtown and is next to the wonderful Museum of Nature & Science.
Our favorite zoo in the state, though, would have to be Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. The giraffe exhibit is spectacular. You can feed them, and when the weather is good for a small fee you can enter the exhibit with a zookeeper. An incredible experience you aren’t likely to forget. If she’s still around, the matriarch will probably come over and give your feet a sniff with her giant head. No one knows why she has a thing for feet. She just does. Giraffes are incredibly curious creatures.
The zoo also has some great views and a wonderful play area that kids can climb all over. Zoo admission also includes admission to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. The view is worth the short but slow drive to the top.
RMNP is also a great place for snowshoeing in the winter. It’s one of the best locations for enjoying fall colors as well. You can get some very close-up views of herds of elk, and if you go during the rut, it’s pretty impressive to hear the elks bugling. The elk are very comfortable around people, and they are frequent visitors around the town as well.
The sand dunes are an absolute blast. Both kids and adults love hiking up the sand dunes, rolling down them, and you can also bring a board and “surf” the dunes. During parts of the year, a creek runs next to the dunes which is also a lot of fun for kids. Its shallow depth makes it quite safe for even toddlers to enjoy. At night you can gaze up at the sky and be amazed at how many stars you can see. You can even spot the Milky Way.
If you get a permit from the visitors center, you can sleep on the dunes at night. It’s a pretty incredible experience.
If you’d like to experience something a bit different, head to the southwest corner of the state and visit Four Corners. If you get on the ground, you can have a different part of your body in four different states at once!
So many things to do in Colorado!
There just isn’t enough room to list absolutely everything. Fall colors, professional sports, wonderful summers that usually aren’t too hot, champagne powder for skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, cycling, running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing, boating, camping, dune surfing, horseback riding, natural hot springs, amazing parks, hunting, fishing, wildlife, steam trains, old mines, the home of the highest bridge in the US (and one of the highest in the world), great beer and food. . . the list goes on and on.
What are your favorite things to do in Colorado?