Dreaming of a summer free of masks and social distancing? While no one is sure when life will start getting back to normal, it’s always fun to plan ahead. Here are 10 summer adventures to add to your Colorado bucket list.
1. Capture the Beauty of the “Bells”
Embrace Colorado by visiting what are said to be the two most-photographed peaks in the state. Located in Aspen, a spot at the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness provides a breathtaking escape into nature. Featuring rugged mountain terrain, pristine alpine lakes, and colorful meadows of wildflowers, this is one adventure that must be on your Colorado bucket list. Venture from one natural wonder to the next with a short-scenic hike to Crater Lake or backpack the 27-mile loop for a weekend-long adventure over four iconic 12,000+ foot mountain passes.
Insider Tip: The hike from Crested Butte to Aspen offers is another great alternative, short by just a few miles. Hitch a ride back or hike it back. Permits are required for overnight campers.
2. Telluride Via Ferrata
This Colorado bucket list item is not for the faint of heart. Telluride’s Via Ferrata is a 2.5-mile cliffside traverse featuring several hundred-foot drops, narrow pathways, and metal hand and foot holds. The climb can take anywhere from two to four hours. Make sure you have the proper gear to participate. We recommend going with a tour guide.
3. Bag 14,000 Feet of Mountain Views
If hiking a Colorado fourteener is not already on your bucket list, it should be. Peak-bagging is strenuous, often requiring many hours of hiking. High-calorie snacks, warm layers (hat, gloves, puffy), and a camelback are highly recommended.
Insider Tip: It’s important to be aware of altitude sickness. Always give yourself time to adjust to new altitudes, stay hydrated, and pay attention to the warning signs. It can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
4. Hike to 2 for 1 Alpine Lakes
Whether you’re opting for a double lake experience or not, the Ice Lakes trail is absolutely breathtaking. It passes Ice Lake and Island Lake, both unique and noteworthy. The 8.2-mile round trek is worth every step – colorful wildflower blooms, rushing waters, and snow-capped peaks are all part of the journey.
5. Sandboard the Dunes
Dip your toes in the sand at the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Hike, sled, or sandboard way down the tallest sand dunes in North America. Visitors can also enjoy the spring-run off which forms Medano Creek, a natural “waterpark,” every year at the base of the sandy dunes. Peak flow typically occurs from late-May to early-June. If you’re planning on exploring for more than a days, be sure to check out Zapata Falls. It’s a beautiful sight to see!
Insider Tip: Plan to arrive early, especially in the summer. Camping spots fill up fast, so be sure to do your research well in advance. Map it out and always have a backup plan in mind.
6. Go Wine Tasting in Palisade
Head west to the picturesque town of Palisade for a wine-tasting adventure. Home to more than 20 wineries, the town is also known for its harvest of peaches. From mountain biking to hiking to whitewater rafting, there’s also plenty of natural beauty to be experienced. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, Colorado National Monument, and Grand Mesa National Forest are just a few of many noteworthy destinations nearby.
7. Go Wildflower Spotting
Hike your way through the colorful meadows of Crested Butte, also known as the wildflower capital of the state. From alpine lakes to colorful meadows amid lush aspen forests, it can be hard to recommend a single trail. A few top picks include Green Lake Trail, Baxter Gulch, Meridian Lake Loop, Washington Gulch (wildflower galore), and Three Lakes Loop. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, opt for the 10-mile round trek from Crested Butte to Aspen. The views will not disappoint!
8. Dip Into a Hot Spring
Soak your way through the mountainous state of Colorado by visiting a number of hot springs. Top resorts to stop by include Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort (Buena Vista), The Springs Resort & Spa (Pagosa Springs), Iron Mountain Hot Springs (Glenwood Springs), and Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs (Steamboat Springs). SunWater Spa is another great spa option for those exploring close to the Colorado Springs area. If you’re looking for a fully natural hike-to spring, the Conundrum Creek Trail to the Conundrum Hot Springs offers one of the most unique overnight backpacking trips in the state.
Insider Tip: Permits are required for camping within zones of the Conundrum Hot Springs. More details here.
9. Discover the Mile High City
Spend the day touring the Mile High City of Denver. Shadowed by mountains, Denver rests at an elevation of 5,280 feet. It’s an incredibly unique and vibrant city with endless spots to explore. From food tours to sightseeing to broadway shows, there’s a little bit of everything here.
10. Hike Rocky Mountain National Park
A playground of striking natural wonders awaits at Rocky Mountain National Park. The 265,769 acre-park offers plenty of opportunity for a number of classic Colorado experiences, including hiking and camping. Gear up, hit the trails, and create memories with an abundance of beautiful scenery and wildlife!
EDITOR’S NOTE: When visiting, please remember to Leave No Trace. Stay on the trail, respect wildlife, and pack out all your trash. To refresh your memory, here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace.