Things to do in the Northwest
From the headwaters of the Arkansas and Colorado rivers to the majestic Elk Mountains around Aspen, from the stunning canyons and mesas of the Western Slope to forests of golden aspens on grassy hillsides, northwest Colorado encompasses some of Colorado’s most iconic landscapes. Outdoors enthusiasts can raft the two mighty rivers, shred powder at the state’s largest ski area (Vail Resort), mountain bike around Fruita on desert singletrack, or spend a lifetime exploring the many wilderness areas as well as Rocky Mountain National Park.
The mighty Sawatch Mountains along the Continental Divide run through here—the 15 peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation that make up this range give the mountains their “spine of the Continent” moniker. Below these peaks to the east is the Arkansas River, which in some years is the most-rafted river in America. To the west is the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, home to famous destinations such as the Maroon Bells and Conundrum Hot Springs. As the Divide continues northward, it forms Rocky Mountain National Park, which in 2016 attracted a record of 4.5 million visitors. The crowds disappear to the north and west in the Flat Tops, a rugged and remote range where elk and moose outnumber people.
West of the Divide, mountains give way to the deserts of Colorado’s canyon country. Glenwood Springs sits along the Colorado River in a beautiful canyon with a historic hot springs. The Roan Plateau to the north near Rifle offers beautiful solitude and great elk hunting for those with a solid off-road vehicle. Dinosaur and Colorado National Monuments offer memorable canyon excursions. The areas around Fruita and Grand Junction attract mountain bikers from across the country.