Colorado is a state associated with the Rocky Mountains, even though about a third of the state is really plains. But the mountains are certainly the main attraction. There are many peaks here which are higher than 14,000 feet. My wife, Lee, truly loves this state and probably would move there in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose. Here are my choices for the best of this magnificent place. A photo album will follow shortly.
1. Mesa Verde National Park – The premier Native American historical site in North America, this park preserves several excellent cliff dwellings. The Mesa Top Loop Road provides access to many of the ruins and also affords overlooks for shutter-bugs. Cliff Palace and Balcony House can visited by guided tour only.
2. Rocky Mountain National Park – This premier national park is noted for its incredible mountain scenery. Walking and hiking trails abound throughout the park. Trail Ridge Road, which cuts through the park, crossing the Continental Divide, has particularly spectacular views. Wildlife sightings are also common within the park.
3. Pike’s Peak – This famous 14,000 foot plus behemoth is famous as the inspiration for the song, America the Beautiful, and is particularly imposing due to its position along the front range of the Rockies, rising tall above the plains. It was discovered by explorer Zebulon Pike, although he never reached the summit. The Auto Road to the top offers spectacular overlooks, but is not for the faint-hearted.
4. Dinosaur National Monument – This Federal monument area spans sections of Colorado and Utah, with the main dinosaur-bone viewing area just north of Jensen, Utah. Take the Harpers Corner Scenic Drive for dramatic canyon country views.
5. Durango-Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad – The beauty and majesty of the San Juan Mountains, in southwestern Colorado, is revealed from the windows of this classic train which winds through a wilderness canyon enroute to the town of Silverton, 90 miles away at an altitude of 11,000 feet.
6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison – A mini-Grand Canyon awaits visitors here. The gorge is deep and steep, much steeper than the Grand Canyon. Take the scenic drive along the South Rim for incredibly dramatic views.
7. United States Air Force Academy – Located in the foothills of the Rockies between Denver and Colorado Springs, this beautiful campus is a delight to explore. With several static displays of aircraft and, most famously, the beautiful chapel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it is easy to fall in love with the setting. Add the element of impeccably-dressed cadets marching across the grounds and this place becomes truly special.
8. Colorado National Monument – This plateau and canyon area is extremely picturesque and offers numerous trails for the visitor. The area is located in the western part of the state, near the town of Grand Junction.
9. Garden of the Gods State Park – Located just outside of Colorado Springs, near the base of Pike’s Peak, this popular state park offers interesting rock formations, the result of erosion of the area sandstone. Rock-climbers are a common sight here, perfecting their techniques before heading to more difficult sites.
10. Aspen – This playground of the rich and famous is noted for its upscale shopping, in the village, and its fantastic skiing in the winter. There are many other activites available during anytime of the year. Celebrity-sighting is a popular diversion for visitors.
Other sights and activities considered: