May 07, 2021 5 min read

7 Off-The-Beaten-Path Family Vacations in Colorado This Summer

Planning family vacations in Colorado this summer? Wherever you go,  you won’t be disappointed by the diverse options for summer vacations in Colorado. But if you really want a trip to remember, try one of these off-the-beaten-path spots to get the most out of the summer!

Best Summer Family Vacations in Colorado

  1. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Located on the southern end of Colorado, Great Sand Dunes offers a beach vacation next to the mountains (not kidding). You’ll avoid the crowds that flock to Rocky Mountain National Park without sacrificing the views. Family-friendly campsites inside the park offer bathrooms, water, and established sites. And the whole family is sure to enjoy the activity that Great Sand Dunes is known for- sandboarding! You’ll be able to find sandboard rentals on your way into the park. If you’re up for a hike, you can bring your family to new heights with a trip to the top of the highest dune in North America. If the kids get tired of the beach, you’ll have easy access to mountain views. The towering Sangre De Cristo mountain range is just behind the Dunes. A short drive will take you to higher altitudes and cooler temperatures.

  1. Bayfield, CO

There’s something idyllic about a family lake vacation, and Bayfield offers just that. Tucked away behind Durango, Colorado, it’s the perfect hideaway for a family vacation this summer. Visit for a weekend or a month- either way, you’ll want to stay longer. The lake is surrounded by small cabins and family homes, so finding a place to stay won’t be a problem. While you’re there, enjoy paddle boarding and fishing on the serene waters of Lake Vallecito.

  1. Salida, CO

Just a few hours for Denver, Salida is great for a quickfamily weekend getaway. This small town is far from the traffic of I-70 and is surrounded by the Colorado giants- 14,000 foot peaks. If you’re vacationing with older kids that are up for a challenge, plan a day to tackle the gentle giant of La Plata Peak, one of the easier 14ers in Colorado. Or, spend the day on the water of the Arkansas River. Rafting and floating opportunities offer carefree fun for the whole family!

  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison

You may have never heard of this semi-hidden Colorado National Park, but it should be on your list. Located about two hours from beautiful Crested Butte (a classic Colorado summer vacation spot in its own right), the Black Canyon of the Gunnison offers breathtaking views of its beautiful marbled walls. Enjoy a scenic drive around the rim of the canyon, or take to the trails to get a closer look. Either way, make sure you keep the family around for at least one night under the stars. The two campsites at the Black Canyon offer amenities for easy camping under one of the clearest night skies in Colorado.

  1. Granby, CO

Home to the lesser known and far less travelled west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, Granby is the perfect spot for serene family vacations in Colorado. Lake Granby offers any and all water sports for your family to enjoy, and the town itself has a great downtown area full of local shops and restaurants. When you’re ready for that classic Colorado adventure, drive a few miles up the road to the Grand Lake entrance to Rocky Mountain. Miles of trail perfect for family hikes await. Or, take the young ones on the scenic and world-renown drive up Trail Ridge Road. Your family will enjoy 360 degree views of the alpine tundra-just make sure to pack a jacket! The high altitude is chilly, even in thesummer.

  1. Mesa Verde National Park

Another hidden vacation spot tucked in the southern part of Colorado, Mesa Verde is home to some amazing history. Famous for the sprawling Cliff Palace ruin, Mesa Verde was home to the ancestral Pueblo people, among 26 other tribes, for many years. Now, it’s one of the finest places in the world to experience ancient civilizations in person. When you’re planning your family vacation to Mesa Verde, make sure to get tickets for a cliff dwelling tour- family members young and old will enjoy this interactive experience. Stay for the evening, too. Mesa Verde is one of only 100 other International Dark Sky Parks. The mild temperatures ofsummer in Colorado are perfect for stargazing

  1. Ouray, CO

The little sister to Telluride, Ouray is one of the finest mountain town vacation destinations in Colorado. The gorgeous downtown features architecture designed to mimic a classic Swiss town, and you just might think you’ve been transported to the Alps. With five-star resorts and dispersed camping in equal distances from the town, there’s something for every family wanting to enjoy aColorado summer vacation in Ouray. Soak in the beautiful Ouray hot springs, or visit Box Canyon Park for a family-friendly hike with mountain views.


Packing for a Family Vacation in Colorado?

No matter where you choose to go thissummer, there are a few things you’ll always want to have in your bag.

Colorado Hat

Show some love for the state and even more importantly, stay protected from the sun! Yes, we love our 300 days of sunshine, but you’ve got to keep you skin safe. Whether you choose to visit the mountains or hang out on the Sand Dunes, you’re sure to have plenty of fun in the sun on yoursummer vacations in Colorado. Stay covered with a Colorado Hat (and grab one for the rest of thefamily, too).

Neck Gaiter

If it’s not the sun, it’s sure to be the wind. If you’re planning a higher elevation hike or staying in the mountains of Colorado, you’ll want to pack a neck gaiter. Even in the summer, windy days can be harsh if your face isn’t protected properly.

Fleece Layer

Even in thesummer, temperatures inColorado often drop. Especially at night. Make sure to pack a few extra layers for yourfamily vacation in Colorado. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, but the chances are, you’ll be very glad you brought an extra fleece.

Water Bottle

The last thing you want to deal with on a family vacation is altitude sickness or dehydration. Making sure you’ve always got a water bottle handy is the easiest way to avoid both.Summer vacations in Colorado can be quite hot-keeping hydrated will ensure you enjoy the warm weather safely.


Gear up for a summer of family vacations in Colorado with colorful YoColorado clothing for the whole family!
Karen Williams
Karen Williams


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