Anyone who’s ever visited Colorado knows that it’s an utterly gorgeous state. Folks flock here for the epic mountains, where skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and plenty of hiking take place year round. But maybe you aren’t about that mountain life. Maybe you like to take it a little easier when you travel solo or with the whole family. That’s perfectly fine, too. Because here’s the thing: Colorado offers way more to the world than just mountains. Here’s how you can make the most of a visit to the Centennial State, mountains be damned.
Put on a swim suit and relax in one of the many hot springs located throughout Colorado. Get away from the world at an all-inclusive like Dunton Hot Springs, located in the renovated ghost town of Dolores. You can opt to use their 19th century bathhouse, hang out in Christopher’s spring, or try their outdoor pool. For a more modest soak, try Indian Hot Springs (located in Idaho Springs), where outdoor jacuzzis, geothermal caves, a mineral pool, and spa treatments all await.
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While there aren’t any Six Flags or Disney locations nearby, Colorado still has plenty of theme and amusement parks to keep the whole family thrilled. Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park opens every spring and features numerous rides and shows, including concerts and “dive-in” movies (which can be viewed while enjoying the water park pools). Farther into the mountains, you’ll find Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, where zip lines, laser tag, bungee trampolines, and an alpine coaster will all get your blood rushing. And for those who can’t get enough Christmas, there’s Santa’s North Pole Workshop in Colorado Springs.
Great Sand Dunes
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As #InternationalDarkSkyWeek wraps up, #NationalParkWeek starts tomorrow, Saturday, April 21! This year's theme is 'Park Stars', celebrating starry skies and other special features in National Park Service sites across America. To kick off National Park Week: ⭐ Free entrance on Saturday the 21st ⭐ 15% discount on all items at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center ⭐ A free ranger program, 'Shining Through the Fire', will take place at the visitor center at 1:00pm Saturday. At Great Sand Dunes, beautiful celestial objects and diverse peoples of the past have endured literal and metaphorical heat to come out ‘Shining Through the Fire.’ Touch real meteorites, a small tube of glass formed from lightning, and artifacts from various cultures. Program lasts about 40 minutes. Photo of Milky Way over Great Sand Dunes: NPS/Patrick Myers #GreatSandDunes #Stars #StarrySky #MilkyWay #Dunes #ParkStars #ShiningThroughTheFire #FindYourPark #EncuentraTuParque
Mountains might not be your thing, but maybe the desert is. If you drive southwest from Denver, you’ll eventually hit one of Colorado’s coolest secrets: Great Sand Dunes National Park. Come in the winter and you’ll be able to see the snow-capped mountains just beyond the dunes. In the summer, you can feel free to ride horses, go sandboarding (or sand sledding), and splash about at the nearby Medano Creek.
Most folks visiting want to climb their way up the mountains, but you can have an equally good time by wandering into them. And by that, I mean exploring caves! Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs is by far one of the most popular destinations, complete with a variety of tours through the limestone caves. There are also some off-the-beaten path caves you can wander into solo if you’re willing to make the hike, including the Grottos (located in White River National Forest) and the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine Tour, where you can descend 1,000 feet underground before exploring the caves.
Cannabis and Breweries
While prohibitionists might not enjoy it, Coloradans are big on both craft beer and quality cannabis. Breweries are a dime a dozen in major cities like Denver and Boulder, but they can just as easily be found in most suburbs and mountain towns. In fact, it’s sometimes harder to find more well-known brands (except for Coors, of course, whose headquarters is located in the city of Golden, and offers tours to boot). As for cannabis, Colorado was among the first states to legalize its recreational use and these days, dispensaries can be found all over the place. Cannabis tours have also made progress in town and tourists often swear by these unique experiences.
White Water Rafting
OK, so you might not get the kind of quality rafting here if it weren’t for the mountains, but in this case, you’ll be between mountains rather than above them. There are a number of fun-filled river adventures to go on, from a ride down the Arkansas River to a scenic expedition along Cache La Poudre. The best thing is that white water rafting is more accessible than you probably think. While you may have seen videos of folks fighting to keep their rafts afloat, children as young as four can hop aboard a raft, especially in the late summer months.
Festivals And Concerts
Music lovers feel right at home in Colorado. The state is home to one of the most infamous venues in the world: the massive, outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater, which hosts concerts and other events throughout spring, summer, and fall. There are also dozens of smaller, live-music venues scattered around Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder, as well as all across the mountains. Colorado is also home to some interesting festivals like Frozen Dead Guy Days (a music fest in Nederland with a rather macabre story) and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Basically, Colorado keeps things interesting.