Colorado is a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its stunning natural landscapes, from snow-capped peaks to sweeping valleys, draw visitors worldwide. With 300 days of sunshine a year, Colorado has plenty of opportunities to enjoy its scenic beauty throughout the seasons.
The state’s natural beauty is truly unmatched, and this is further supported by the parks to visit in Colorado. These parks have many activities to try, from hiking and camping to exploring rock formations. With so much to see and do, you won’t get bored touring all the wonders the Centennial State offers.
So, visiting parks should be on your bucket list whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking to spend quality time with loved ones. Keep the following destinations in mind for your next Colorado road trip.
Best Parks To Visit in Colorado
The Centennial State is home to some of the most amazing national parks in the country, drawing millions of visitors every year. Here are some Colorado national parks worth checking out:
1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Despite its unique views, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of the least-visited national parks in the country. One of the reasons for this is the lack of accommodations within the park. However, anyone who explores this hidden gem will be rewarded with a sense of solitude that is hard to find in more popular parks.
Visitors to the park can explore the canyon’s depths through various activities, including scenic drives, hiking, rock climbing, and fishing. The park’s South Rim Drive has breathtaking views of the canyon’s most dramatic sections. For a more challenging experience, the park’s North Rim offers backcountry hiking trails with a more secluded view of the canyon.
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contains the tallest dunes in the continent. These dunes were formed over thousands of years after winds carried sand particles from the nearby mountains and deposited them on the valley floor. The park also boasts diverse ecosystems, including wetlands and grasslands, making it an excellent destination for nature enthusiasts.
Besides its natural wonders, the park has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors can enjoy hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. It is also a popular destination for stargazing, thanks to its remote location and lack of light pollution.
3. Mesa Verde National Park
Among the must-visit Colorado national parks is Mesa Verde National Park. It is known for its incredible archaeological sites built by the Ancestral Puebloans over 700 years ago. Visitors can explore these cliff dwellings and learn about the park’s rich cultural history at the on-site museum.
The park has over 8,000 acres of wilderness, with hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous. You can also go on ranger-led tours of the dwellings, attend cultural demonstrations, and enjoy the park’s magnificent vistas. Mesa Verde National Park is a destination you should not miss.
4. Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is at the top of the list of parks to visit in Colorado. Located in north-central Colorado, the park has spectacular mountain landscapes, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear lakes. With over 415 square miles of wilderness, visitors with much space to do activities. The park also has over 60 species of mammals, including elk and black bears, as well as hundreds of bird species.
In addition, the park is rich in cultural history, with evidence of human habitation dating back over 10,000 years. Its many historic sites tell the story of the people who have lived in the area, from Native American tribes to European settlers. Visitors can learn about the park’s cultural history at the on-site museum, which features exhibits on the park’s geology and wildlife.
5. Curecanti National Recreation Area
Curecanti National Recreation Area is one of the underrated national parks since it’s relatively unknown compared to the others. Home to three reservoirs, this park is popular among boaters, anglers, and hikers, with 42,000 acres of wilderness to explore. Visitors can take a boat tour of the reservoirs, fish for rainbow trout, or hike along the park’s remarkable trails.
Visitors also have many camping options in Curecanti National Recreation Area. There are eleven developed campgrounds and backcountry camping options for those looking for a more remote experience. The campgrounds are in scenic areas of the park, with easy access to nature trails, fishing spots, and boating opportunities.
6. Summit Lake Park
Summit Lake Park is a beautiful alpine park with an elevation of 12,830 feet. The park offers gorgeous panoramic views, including views of Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s highest peaks. Its hiking trails have breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain scenery, including views of wildflowers, wildlife, and dramatic landscapes.
Its facilities include picnic areas, restrooms, and a visitor center with educational exhibits and information on the park’s natural history. The park’s beauty and recreational opportunities make it a popular destination for locals and tourists. Many visitors drive up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway to experience the park’s picturesque views.
What To Bring When Visiting National Parks
When visiting national parks in Colorado, you should prepare for the elements and have the right gear to make the most of your trip. Here are four essential things to bring:
1. Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is crucial, especially at high altitudes where dehydration can occur more quickly. Bring a refillable water bottle that you can easily carry with you.
2. Sun Protection
The sun can be intense at high elevations, so protecting your skin and eyes is necessary. Carry a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
3. Sturdy Shoes
Many of Colorado’s national parks in Colorado have hiking trails that require sturdy footwear. Ensure to wear comfortable and supportive hiking boots or shoes with good traction.
4. Extra Clothing
Colorado’s weather can change rapidly, especially in the mountains, so you must prepare for all conditions. Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing as needed. Additionally, bring a warm jacket or sweater, as temperatures can drop quickly in the evening or at higher elevations.
While there are many things to do in Colorado, visiting its national parks is worth scheduling. Exploring the state’s parks lets you connect with nature and experience some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world. From hiking to camping to wildlife viewing, there are endless activities to enjoy in these surreal natural settings. So, for memories you won’t soon forget, ensure you include the most beautiful parks to visit in Colorado in your travel itinerary.
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