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  • Overview

    Colorado is an outdoor paradise with a truly diverse landscape, from arid deserts strewn with sand dunes, to alpine forests on the Rocky Mountains topped with snow, to the deep canyons created by the Colorado River. It is these wild, untamed vistas that draw visitors to the state of , as the Spanish travellers first called it.

    The Rocky Mountains are a year-round destination that boasts forests, canyons, lakes, rivers, and peaks that provide ample opportunity for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and horseback riding. Winter resorts nestled in the mountains offer unrivalled skiing and snowboarding amid the panoramic alpine scenery. The resort of Vail is one of the most popular ski destinations in America, a family friendly destination, while Aspen is well known for its exclusivity and glamorous après-ski scene.

    The state capital of Denver is the obvious starting point for a vacation and is the gateway to the mountains, ski resorts, and spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park to the north. Home to many museums, parks, gardens, and a lively downtown area, the city offers the comfort and culture of a bigger city at relaxed pace. To the south, Pikes Peak looms over the city of Colorado Springs, famous for its breathtaking views that were the inspiration for the lyrics of "America the Beautiful" by Katherine Lee Bates. Those travelling from Denver to Colorado Springs should stop at the Gardens of Gods Park to marvel at the fantastic red sandstone formations. The western part of the state comprises of archaeological remnants of the cliff cities left by an ancient civilisation at Mesa Verde National Park.

    While the scenery may be varied, visitors' experiences will be consistently enjoyable as they journey through the striking landscape of Colorado.

    World-renowned among the adventurous, the alpine world of Colorado promises justifiably famous skiing, snowboarding, hiking and white water rafting opportunities. Unsurprisingly, the state is also a great favourite with photographers. In addition to the scenic appeal, Colorado is home to some quaint towns still steeped in gold rush history, and to some of the most remarkable ancient archaeological sites in the USA.

    Colorado's top tourist attraction, broadly speaking, is mountains. The best places to soak up the dramatic scenery include the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Gunnison National Park, and the celebrated resort of Vail. Pikes Peak, located in Pike National Forest, is another wildly beautiful Colorado landmark.

    Mountainous delights aside, Colorado offers travellers the surreal beauty of the Garden of the Gods, just outside Colorado Springs; the undulating, endless sands of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, in the south of the state; and the seemingly fantastical ancient cliff settlements of Mesa Verde National Park.

    History Colorado Center

    Documenting the colourful history of Colorado and the stories of those who have lived here over the centuries, the History Colorado Center brings to life the world of cowboys and gunfighters, Native Americans, miners and gold panners, explorers, buffalo hunters, wagon trains and railroads. The museum is hugely innovative, blending technology with fascinating artefacts: explore an enormous map of the state with a storytelling time machine, grab a headlamp and enter a hard-rock mine, traverse the plains in a Model T, then soar off the world's first ski jump. Exhibits include portrayals of life in 19th-century Denver, Buffalo Soldiers and the Mesa Verde cliff.

    Address: 1200 N Broadway
    Colorado History Museum Colorado History Museum Wirawan Purwanto
    Denver Art Museum

    Housing one of the largest Native American art collections in the country, the Denver Art Museum is a huge, seven-storey structure that also features the works of American Western artists, and art from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The growing Native American collection displays work from about 150 tribes throughout the country, arranged geographically and spanning almost 2,000 years. Discovery Libraries contain shelves of art objects and prints, a costume closet that allows visitors to try on olden-day clothing, as well as reading corners. The museum is interesting for people of all ages.

    Address: 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver
    Opening time: Monday to Thursday 10am-5pm; Friday 10am-8pm; Saturday to Sunday 10am-5pm.
    The Denver Art Museum The Denver Art Museum KM Newnham
    Denver Mint

    More US money is made in Denver than anywhere else in the country, and visitors can take a tour of the Denver Mint to see exactly what's behind that tiny 'D' on most US coins. The Denver Mint opened in 1863, and originally melted gold dust and nuggets into bars for the Federal Reserve. Today it churns out billions of coins each year. Self-guided tours through the visitors' gallery provide a birds-eye view of the coin-minting process, with signs and displays explaining how it works. The whole tour takes about an hour, and reservations are required. There is a gift shop selling historic coins and replicas, which make great souvenirs for travellers (it is also possible to purchase coins online via the official website).

    Website: www.usmint.gov
    The Denver Mint The Denver Mint Larry D. Moore
    Mount Evans

    Mount Evans, with an altitude of over 14,000 feet, offers visitors truly spectacular views from its summit, as well as the opportunity to see various forms of Rocky Mountain wildlife (American Elk, mountain goats, marmots, big horn sheep) in their natural habitats. Just 65 miles (about 100km) from Denver - including an exhilarating 15 miles on 'America's highest paved road', the Mount Evans Scenic Byway - Mount Evans is perhaps the easiest way for visitors to Colorado to get an authentic 'Rocky Mountain experience'. Mount Evans also offers fishing opportunities, and hiking and bicycle trails; although it is most commonly visited as a day-trip from Denver, and is easily accessible by car for the less fit. Remember to pack a lunch for the summit, as the views will keep you up there for hours.

    Mountain Goats, Mt Evans Mountain Goats, Mt Evans Robertbody
    Denver Museum of Nature and Science

    The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is one of those rare attractions that is as entertaining as it is educational, and as suitable for kids as it is fascinating for grown-ups. The museum draws thousands of teachers and students each year, and countless more tourists, all of whom value the unique, hands-on presentation style of the exhibitions. Boasting an IMAX theatre, Planetarium, and an assortment of high-tech, interactive 'discovery areas' (most famously, the 'Space Odyssey' and 'Prehistoric Journey' sections), visitors of all ages are sure to come away from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science enriched, and more enthusiastic about the world's natural treasures. The museum also houses a popular gift shop and cafe.

    Address: 2001 Colorado Boulevard
    Opening time: Daily 9am-5pm
    Website: www.dmns.org
    Denver Museum of Nature and Science Denver Museum of Nature and Science Paul Hermans
    Elitch Gardens Theme Park

    This popular amusement park is conveniently located in downtown Denver, offering about 50 rides and attractions for families in Denver. Rides range from the thrilling ten-storey Twister II roller coaster, to the pretty hand-carved carousel that dates back to 1925. The connected Island Kingdom Water Park offers relief on hot summer days, with around a dozen waterslides, raft rides, and family play areas. Entrance to the theme park includes entrance to the water park at no extra cost. Elitch Gardens Theme Park is seasonal, open between April and October and closed the rest of the year. Visitors should note that the park is open daily in the peak summer months but only sporadically in April, May, September and October; it is essential to check the calendar on the official website listed below before visiting to avoid disappointment. The E and C light rail lines stop near the entrance to the theme park.

    Address: 2000 Elitch Cir
    Opening time: Hours vary according to season.
    Elitch Gardens Elitch Gardens Bgtbbum

    A laid-back university town, located roughly 25 minutes northwest of Denver, Boulder is a sophisticated and artistic city. The large population of students from Colorado University gives Boulder a lively nightlife, a sense of fun, and a liberal attitude. Taking full advantage of its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a city fanatical about outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and skiing, and has positioned itself as a tourist hub for travellers on their way to the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. Boulder is stunningly situated and has enough impressive views to satisfy anybody in search of Colorado's beauty.

    Boulder Boulder Hustvedt

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Most of Colorado has a mountain climate with hot summer days and cold, snowy winters. But like the landscape, the weather can be extremely changeable, particularly during spring where large amounts of hail and windy conditions can flare up unexpectedly. Humidity is pleasantly low throughout the year. The snowy and cold winter in Colorado is the peak resort season as the slopes come alive with skiers and snowboarders, but the pleasant summers attract hikers, horse-riders, and climbers. The stormy spring is the least popular time to travel to Colorado. Thunderstorms occur in spring and summer with the most rainfall during July and August; but rain can fall at any time of year up in the mountains.

    Denver International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated 26 miles (42km) east of Denver and is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains.
    Time: GMT -7 (GMT -6 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Transfer Between Terminals The underground rail links the Jeppesen Terminal with concourses A, B, and C.
    Getting to the city: The RTD bus services connect the airport to the city centre. Tickets cost $10.50 for a one day pass. The bus stop is located at the DEN Transit centre, which may be accessed from the south end of the Jeppeson Terminal. Limousines and taxis are also available for hire. Airport shuttles provide door-to-door services to central locations. Travellers may also obtain ground transportation information at the Ground Transportation Information Counter located on Level 5 of Jeppesen Terminal. Car rental companies are also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available from Jeppesen Terminal Level 5, Island 1, outside doors 507 and 511 (east side), and 506 and 510 (west side). The rate to the city centre starts from $56. Taxi operators include Denver Yellow Cab and Freedom Cabs Inc.
    Facilities: Foreign exchange bureaux and ATMs are available throughout the airport. Other facilities include bars, restaurants, duty-free shops, a post office, a massage centre, and tourist information. Travellers can enjoy one of the best collections of public art of any airport. Facilities for the disabled are fully functional, but those with special needs should contact their airline or travel agent in advance.
    Parking There is plenty of parking attached to the terminal. Fees start at $5 per hour for economy parking. Reduced rates are available in the off-site Pike Peak Lot, where the rates are $2 per hour and $8 per day. Shuttles run 24 hours a day, every 10 minutes. There is also parking next to the terminal for picking up and dropping off.
    Colorado Springs Municipal Airport
    Location: The airport is located nine miles (16km) southeast of Colorado Springs.
    Time: GMT -7 (GMT -6 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: There are buses to Colorado Springs and the surrounding region from the airport. Taxis, limousines, rental cars, and airport shuttles are all available at the airport, and some hotels in Colorado Springs offer pick-up services for their guests.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies at the airport include Avis, Budget, Hertz, Alamo/National, and Enterprise.
    Airport Taxis: Springs Cab, Pikes Peak Cab, Rocky Mountain Taxi, and Yellow Cab offer taxis from Colorado Springs Airport. Taxis are metered.
    Facilities: Facilities at the airport include ATMs, a visitor information centre, and multiple restaurants and shops.
    Parking Short-term parking costs $1 per 30 minutes up to $9 per day, and long-term parking costs $1 per hour up to $7 per day. There is a free, 24/7 shuttle service to the terminal.
    Rocky Mountain National Park

    The most popular attraction in Colorado is the spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park, with its snow-covered peaks, flower-flecked meadows, alpine lakes, thundering waterfalls and wildlife. These images of beauty have graced countless calendars and coffee-table books and are instantly recognisable as belonging to Colorado. Because of the high elevation of the park, a third of which is at an altitude of more than 11,500 feet (3,505m), there are large areas above the tree line of alpine tundra, meaning constant snow and flora seldom found outside the Arctic.

    Although usually considered the realm of hikers, climbers, fishermen and horse riders, it is possible to enjoy the park without breaking a sweat thanks to one of America's most scenic drives, the Trail Ridge Road. Crossing the Continental Divide at over two miles (3km) above sea level, the 48-mile (77km) highway linking Estes Park to Grand Lake is one of the highest continuous highways in the country, affording dizzying views in all directions. The sweeping vistas of snowy peaks and glaciers, forests, streams and meadows where elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep can be seen, are exceptional. The road also provides access to several walking trails. In winter the road is closed, but activities such as cross-country skiing, ice fishing and snow-shoeing are popular.

    Most visitors come during the summer months, but the park can get quite crowded and the roads congested; the best time to enjoy the park is early autumn, after the crowds and before the winter snows. The resort village of Estes Park is the eastern gateway to the park and very popular with visitors, while the western resort of Grand Lake is quieter with an idyllic setting on the shores of a large lake.

    Website: www.nps.gov/romo
    Sprague Lake Sprague Lake F Delventhal
    Ski resorts

    Boasting some of the world's top ski resorts, such as Vail and Aspen, to name two of the best, the main attraction of the Rocky Mountains has to be its plethora of ski resorts. Travellers looking for the ultimate winter ski holiday are spoilt for choice when they visit Colorado's Rockies as there are at least 20 resorts to choose from. From amateurs and intermediates to those looking to carve their way down pristine black runs, there's a skiing or snowboarding opportunity for everyone. Some of the resorts are glamorous and upmarket and others are more family-friendly. See our more comprehensive resort listings for or a more detailed look at the Rocky Mountains ski resorts.

    Skiing in Vail Skiing in Vail Connor Walberg
    Mesa Verde National Park

    Mesa Verde National Park provides a glimpse into the Ancestral Pueblo culture (also called the Anasazi), a tribe which inhabited the area for over 700 years from the year 600 to 1300. The park contains thousands of archaeological sites, including hundreds of cliff dwellings. Travellers can start at the Far View Visitors' Center, located 15 miles (24km) from the entrance, and join a ranger-guided tour of popular sites like Cliff Palace, Balcony house, Spruce Tree House, and Long House. Many sites are only accessible on the tours, and may be difficult for those who aren't physically fit. The ruins are incredibly impressive and very well preserved; some of the greatest archaeological treasures in the Americas.

    Website: www.nps.gov/meve
    Cliff Palace Cliff Palace Andreas F. Borchert
    Dinosaur National Monument

    One of the best places to see prehistoric dinosaur fossils in the US, Dinosaur National Monument is home to the Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, a famous archaeological site that still displays thousands of fossils for the public to see, along with exhibits on life during the late Jurassic period. The park was also home to outlaws and homesteaders in the 1800s, and there are a few historic sites relating to their presence, including the Rial Chew Ranch Complex and Denis Julien Inscription to explore. The area is scenically splendid and offers many fun outdoor activities: there are great hiking trails and the extra adventurous can go river rafting down the rapids of the canyons.

    Address: 11625 East 1500 South
    Opening time: Daily 8am-6pm
    Website: www.nps.gov/dino
    Dinosaur National Monument Dinosaur National Monument InSapphoWeTrust