Whether planning a family vacation or a weekend excursion with the kids, it’s not always easy to find exciting activities that the whole family can enjoy. Fortunately, Colorado is bursting with incredible destinations and thrilling adventures that your kids will never forget. Make some family memories when you dive into these kid-friendly outdoor activities in Colorado.
The National Park Experience
Many of Colorado’s greatest treasures are located within its national parks. With endless miles of fresh air, thrilling wildlife, and adventure around every corner, park visitors will always find something extraordinary when they visit. Sure, children are less likely to stop and bask in the breathtaking scenery that fills Colorado’s national parks, but even little kids know a natural work of art when they see it. And you’re sure to see many of nature’s best works at the following national parks.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park offers a classic Colorado mountain experience. With 415 square miles to explore, there’s something here for every family member. Easy and beautiful hiking trails span the park, letting you and the kids get an up-close view of the mountains, meadows, waterfalls, and other magical scenes that fill the park.
Kids will also love seeing the wildlife that makes their home in the Rockies. Caribou, bighorn sheep, elk, bears, and so many other fascinating animals live in the area, making Rocky Mountain National Park an adventurous and memorable experience for kids of all ages.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Of course, Colorado offers more than just mountains. If you want thrills and fun you can’t get anywhere else in the country, head to Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. Here you’ll find the tallest sand dunes—also known as the greatest sandboarding opportunities—in North America. Carve your way down 750-foot-tall dunes on a sandboard or in sleds.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is open all day, every day, throughout the entire year. After the snow melts and skiing isn’t an option, head south to Colorado’s jaw-dropping dunes for a thrill ride that never goes away. Be sure to stay safe in the sun with a stylish kids’ hat and other Colorado kids’ clothes.
Let Out Your Wild Side at the Zoo
Colorado is full of magnificent wildlife, but zoos and sanctuaries are some of the best places to see your favorite animals. From the nation’s only mountain zoo to a tropical butterfly house, these attractions are exciting and educational for everyone.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
As the only mountain zoo in America, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo sits 6,800 feet above sea level. That’s far from the only draw, though. The zoo houses nearly 800 animals, including tigers, hippos, elephants, and so much more.
Kids can do more than see their favorite animals. Feeding times and other fun activities offer hands-on experiences with some of the zoo’s residents. Say hello to rhinos during snack time, hang out in the Goat Playground, or come face-to-face with the giraffes as you offer them some lettuce.
Butterfly Pavilion & Insect Center
Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center lets visitors explore some of the world’s most fascinating invertebrates. Every exhibit in the Butterfly Pavilion offers an engaging experience with interactive technology, unique touch experiences, and presentations from the passionate exhibit staff.
Wander through a tropical landscape with 1,600 free-flying butterflies, dive deep beneath the surface with the ocean’s famous invertebrates or learn more about what’s in your backyard with an immersive exhibit all about Colorado’s native bug life. Along the way, you’ll get the opportunity to pet a sea star, hold a tarantula, and even see what dinnertime looks like for an octopus.
Honorable Mention: The Wild Animal Sanctuary
If you’re looking for something different than your typical zoo experience, the Wild Animal Sanctuary is the place for you. Drive an hour outside Denver, and you’ll find nearly 800 acres of protected animal habitats. Here, wild animals can roam freely and undisturbed by human interference.
How do you get to see your favorite animals, then? By taking the Mile Into the Wild walkway, a 1.5-mile-long elevated walkway that lets you explore the sanctuary from above. From the walkway and various observation decks, you can see lions, tigers, hyenas, donkeys, ostriches, camels, and so much more. While the kids have fun watching the animals in a more natural environment, you can enjoy the knowledge that you’re supporting the sanctuary’s work to save wild animals from harmful situations.
Travel Back in Time at Dinosaur Ridge
You can’t go wrong with dinosaurs. Kids of all ages are fascinated by these great creatures that once roamed the earth. That’s why Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison is one of the best kid-friendly outdoor activities in Colorado. Whether your child is a budding archaeologist or loves when Jurassic Park is on TV, you will have a great time exploring fossils, dino tracks, and more at Dinosaur Ridge.
Follow in the dinosaur’s footsteps as you explore the world’s best dinosaur track site. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the area’s history and geology. Best of all, Dinosaur Ridge and the walking tours are completely free. If you want to spend some money, the guided bus tours offer expert insight into the tracks, fossils, history, and geology of Dinosaur Ridge.
Tackle Your First 14er at Pikes Peak
In Colorado, reaching the top of a 14er—one of the Rocky Mountains that stands taller than 14,000 feet—is a point of pride. Among those 14ers is Pikes Peak, an accessible and family-friendly mountain that everyone can enjoy.
Start with a beautiful drive up the famous Pikes Peak Highway. You can take the road straight to the top, but don’t rush the trip. Take the time to stop and enjoy the views you find along the way. This is a trip for family photos.
If you don’t want to drive, consider taking the cog railway to the top. Alternatively, book a Jeep tour and experience the rugged mountain with an informative and entertaining guide.
Walk Among the Gods at Garden of the Gods
Garden of the Gods brings countless visitors to Colorado Springs every year. This free park is full of massive boulders and rock formations that even adults will want to climb all over. The red rock formations create a world like no other. You’ll even find iconic formations such as the Balanced Rock and the Kissing Camels.
You can take various trails through the park, but the main trail is completely paved, making most of the park accessible for everyone.
What’s on your agenda for your family’s next Colorado vacation? Book your favorite destinations today and see all that Colorado has to offer.