Colorado is full of adventure and beauty, and the two collide wonderfully at the state’s national parks. From the iconic Rocky Mountains to the fascinating fields of sand dunes, each park is bursting with unique and thrilling sights. Visitors can discover some of the state’s favorite natural, historical, and cultural attractions at every single one of these locations. Although the CDC and other experts currently discourage travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these great parks will be waiting for you when your next trip comes along. In the meantime, you can learn more about these beautiful landscapes and plan the perfect outdoor escape for your next vacation with our guide to Colorado’s national parks.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountains are the pride of Colorado, so it comes as no surprise that Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the state’s most popular locations. With over 300 miles of trails, this gorgeous park offers plenty to discover. Discover crisp mountain lakes and streams, gorgeous evergreen forests, and a handful of the famous fourteeners—mountain peaks that stand at over 14,000 feet tall. Of course, you can’t miss the wildlife, either—especially the elk, which are ever-popular during rutting season.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park doubles as a World Heritage Site, making it a must-see for any history buffs. The park houses the best-preserved ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings in the country, along with roughly 5,000 other archaeological sites. Visitors can explore the dwellings up close—a rare occurrence for buildings that date back to 600 CE.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado is famous for snowboarding, but what about sandboarding? You can do just that at Great Sand Dunes National Park, home to 30 square miles of sand dune fields. The tallest dune stands at 750 feet tall, creating an awe-inspiring sight you have to experience to fully believe. Alongside excellent hiking trails, visitors will also find opportunities for four-wheeling, sledding, and, yes, sandboarding.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Located in the southwestern part of the state, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is the nation’s highest canyon. The tallest cliffs reach 2,700 feet high along a 53-mile gorge. The canyon is so steep and narrow in some areas that it gets its name from the shadows that overtake the bottom for most of the day. Visitors can explore the park to experience the thrilling beauty of the cliffs as well as the forests and rivers that surround them.
We hope this guide to Colorado’s national parks helps you make an unforgettable adventure out of your next vacation. Remember that it can get cold in the mountains, so pack your Colorado beanie for those late nights spent out under the stars. No matter when you travel, Colorado’s national parks are there to beckon you toward adventure, beauty, and the trip of a lifetime.