Things to do in Colorado

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.

Things to do in Colorado


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.

Things to do in Colorado

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.

Things to do in Colorado, hiking


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.

Feeding a giraffe

Eww! It licked my hand!

National Parks

The Centennial State is home to many national parks. Two of our favorites are Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in Estes Park (my favorite place in Colorado) and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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.

Things to do in Colorado, RMNP

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?

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  1. Personally, I love Colorado and actually thought about moving there in my early 20’s. It’s a natural fit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The mountains, the river, the friendly people – what’s not to love?

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  2. Rocky Mountain National Park is also my favorite place in Colorado- so beautiful! I’d love to take my girl there. And thanks for the tip on beer… Always looking for a new one to try:)

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  3. I love this post!! With Colorado being my home for the last 10 years, I have to agree that it is pretty much the best. There are also so man places to rock climb and boulder – for all skill levels. I would also have to add that brewery tours around Ft. Collins and Boulder are pretty awesome! We just got a VooDoo Donut too! I have plans to visit there at least a few times before I leave on my trip in January! It’ll be hard to leave Colorado, but I definitely see myself back here! Let’s just not spread out secret of how great Colorado is too much! 😉

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    • I saw about VooDoo coming to Denver! Of course they waited until after I left. Although, Lamars are pretty darn good, too.

      Yep, it’s a great state to live in. I just wish the cost of living was lower.

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  4. Another informative article Talon.

    So… tell me… what does a giraffe’s tongue feel like?

    Merry Christmas to you and nipper.

    Elle xxx

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  5. Thanks for the memories, Talon. I once lived in Colorado (worked at City of Boulder and City of Aurora in the 80’s) and have often said that – Colorado is my (2nd, only to my beloved Seattle) favorite place to live in the U.S. Of course, now I live in a g-forsaken rice paddy here in Southeast Asia, but still… 😉

    I so fondly remember the shimmering Aspen trees in the fall at RMNP, and I once did a fascinating archeological dig at Crow Canyon (in Four Corners) for a week – slept in a teepee by night and dug up thousand year old Anasazi artifacts by day.

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  6. Wow, we’re seeing a lot of parallels with Gran Canaria. The hiking, we would have guessed at before reading the article. But the dunes? You’ve really enlightened us there.

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    • I was trying to find my photos of the dunes and am having a dickens of a time, too! They’re quite amazing. Driving up to them is something because you see desert and mountains for a long time and suddenly there are these huge dunes!

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