Things to Do in Colorado: Adventures for a True Nature Enthusiast

Things to do in Colorado: Snow-capped rocky mountains in distance with reddish rock in foreground in Colorado.

Enjoy sports you love amid beautiful natural scenery and vast mountain ranges

Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors / Spring 2019

Colorado is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in the Western United States and is known for its raging rivers, beautiful scenery, and rugged outdoor lifestyle. It is a place where you can escape for a vacation in the solitude of the wilderness and unplug, even for just a little while. Not only is Colorado home to some of the finest ski resorts on the planet, but it is a thrilling place for true adrenaline junkies to play year-round. Things to do in Colorado include whitewater rafting, backcountry hiking, ziplining, rock climbing, ATV off-roading, and fly fishing. If you are up for the outdoor adventure of a lifetime, check out these amazing nature activities offered in the state.

Whitewater rafting

Unattended whitewater rafts sit on river.

Whether you are looking for a gentle sightseeing float with your kids or a thrilling ride that features Class V rapids, Colorado has you covered. Colorado is home to some of the most epic rafting rivers the country has to offer, and you will be in for a fun time no matter what your skill level is.

The Colorado River is an expansive body of water that begins in the northern part of the state and cuts down into southeastern Utah. While traveling down this river, you will get to see alpine forests, rocky canyons, buttes, and other natural landscapes. The Roaring Forks River is the most popular whitewater rafting river in the state and is known for its swift flow and crystal clear water. The Roaring Fork River is located near Aspen, in the central region of the state, and offers rapids of varying intensities. Another favorite among locals and tourists alike is the Arkansas River. The Arkansas River is located in the central region of Colorado and cuts through picture-perfect canyons and the Royal Gorge. If rafting solo is not your thing or if you feel more comfortable doing it with an expert, there are plenty of outfitter guide services who would love to accompany you on the journey.

Backcountry hiking

Mountains peak in the distance with yellowish grouse in foreground in Telluride, Colorado.

Pack your gear and get ready for an intense workout in nature! Colorado has some of the best hiking trails in North America, all featuring pristine views and soul soothing action, and backcountry hiking is one of the top things to do in the state. However, before heading out on your adventure, assess your physical abilities so you can have the best experience possible out on the trails.

Royal Arch Trail is a loop trail that is located in Boulder. It is considered to be a hard trail with swift terrain changes along the way. Along the hike, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of interesting rock formations and plenty of native flora and fauna. If your vacation lands you in Glenwood Springs, be sure to check out Hanging Lake Trail. This trail is less than three miles long and is filled with odd tree growths that are slightly creepy, but in and interesting and fun way. Crater Lake National Park also has fascinating trails that beg to be explored further. This is a place where science history and recreation collide. You can travel around the rim of an ancient volcano and learn about how the lake was formed over time. Pikes Peak is an American icon and offers some of the best views in Rocky Mountain National Park. Red Rocks Amphitheater, while not a hiking destination, is a great location for running and holds concerts and entertainment events during the warmer months of the year.

Ziplining

Two people zipline through snowy trees.

There is nothing that will get your adrenaline pumping faster than going through the tree canopies of the wilderness at warp speed. This high-speed nature activity is safe for kids and adults alike and will give you a unique view of the Rocky Mountain region. Zipline Tours are available through experienced companies in many natural recreation areas of the state. If you're not ready to jump into ziplining full speed, Estes Park has an Aerial Tramway that's quite popular and offers a good way to get your feet wet before trying the real thing.

Rock climbing

Man rock climbing up rock face.

Get an up-close and personal look at the magnificent rock formations in Colorado while challenging yourself to climb to new heights at the same time. Rock climbing is a sport that requires special skill and should only be performed with trained professionals at your side or with climbing buddies. Colorado has several popular rock climbing destinations including Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park, Rifle Mountain Park, and Black Canyon. Each rock climbing area has its own specific rules, so be sure to check in with the park rangers before heading out for your climb.

ATV off-roading

Unattended ATVs sit in a line.

The Rocky Mountains offers the perfect backdrop for a rough and rugged trail riding adventure. ATV off-roading allows you to explore the back country of Colorado and get down and dirty with your friends and family. Whether you are interested in renting some vehicles for a solo ride, or would like to enjoy the ride as a passenger with an expert guide leading the way, you will get to see Colorado as you never thought possible. From Denver to Colorado Springs, you can explore hundreds of miles of ATV trails, no matter where you are staying. Before departing for a day of adventure, be sure to research your chosen trail as some include sections that are highly technical in nature.

Fly fishing

Man fly fishing on edge of a stream with mountains in background.

Fishermen from all around flock to Colorado each year in hopes of catching "the big one" at the many streams, lakes, and rivers found in Colorado. Whether you enjoy ice fishing in frigid cold temperatures or would like to drop your line in the glory of the morning sunshine, Colorado has fishing grounds that are ideal for you. This state is known as "Fryingpan" territory as there is an abundance of trout to go around. Head out to the Colorado River, Crater Lake, Roaring Fork River, or some of the lesser known small lakes and streams around the state. If you have never fished in Colorado before, seek the guidance of the Department of Parks and Wildlife or an expert guide who will be happy to let you know where they are biting.

Things to do in Colorado: A playground for people who love the outdoors

Lake in foreground with autumn trees leading to mountains in background.

It's clear there are many things to do in Colorado and this list includes only a few of them.

We didn't even have a chance to touch on the narrow gauge railway that runs from Durango to the mountain town of Silverton, the many hot springs throughout the state (including the Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs), the Coors Brewery in Golden, or the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park (where Native Americans built a literal cliff palace).

There's also Great Sand Dunes National Park, a scenic byway called Trail Ridge Road that runs from Estes Park through RMNP to Grand Lake, Arapho & Roosevent National Forest, and Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction. The national monument, in particular, is worth a trip if you have the time.

It's clear there's much to discover.

Colorado is a playground for people who love the great outdoors. It offers epic adventures (including guided tours, day trips, and family-friendly activities) all seasons of the year, and there is something to do for visitors of all ages. From old west ghost towns and former mining towns to modern destinations like the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Denver Art Museum in the mile high city to ski destinations like Breckenridge, you will get to enjoy the things you love to do amid beautiful natural scenery and vast mountain ranges in the incredible centennial state, Colorado.

Looking for more on things to do in Colorado and outdoor activities in other states? Try these:

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

— John Muir

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Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors / Spring 2019

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