The Best Road Trip Stops In Colorado
Colorado is a western state known for its diverse landscapes of river canyons, snow-covered mountains, and deserts. And thanks to this diversity, there are plenty of road trip stops for you to check out.
If you’ve been planning a road trip across the United States, Colorado should 100% be on your list of places to stay, and here’s why:
Where To Stop On Your Road Trip To Colorado
Colorado is very well known for the Rocky Mountains, Mesa Verde, and the mile-high city of Denver.
And in this article, I’m going to be talking you through the best places to stop as you drive through this beautiful state:
Great Sand Dunes National Park
You’ll find the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the south of Colorado. The area is known for its vast dunes that tower into the landscape. While there, you’ll get to gaze up at the towering dunes such as Star Dune.
The Great Sand Dunes gives you the feeling that you’re in a completely different country, which is quite magical.
Garden Of The Gods
If there’s one place in Colorado that feels out of this world, known as the Garden Of The Gods. It’s a registered National Natural Landmark known for its 300-foot sandstone rock formation with a beautiful backdrop of the snow-capped Pikes Peak.
They also have a world-class Visitor & Nature Center with a 14-minute HD show named “How Did Those Red Rocks Get There?”
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most well-known places to visit in Colorado is the Rocky Mountains National Park. It’s found in northern Colorado and spans the Continental Divide with mountains, forests, and alpine tundra.
Two things that make the Rocky Mountains famous: The Trail Ridge Road and the Old Fall River Road, which drive past a beautiful sea of aspen trees. You also have to check out the Keyhole Route, which leads to Longs Peak, the park's tallest mountain.
Mesa Verde National Park
One of the most amazing places to visit in Colorado is the Mesa Verde National Park dwellings. It’s incredible to see how well-preserved the residences are, considering they were built around 550 A.D.
And if the structures aren’t enough, you also learn about the history of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater
There’s something about red rocks that makes it stand out in our memory, and the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater is definitely one of the places.
You can go there during the day to enjoy the beautiful landscape hike or have a picnic during the day. But as the night draws in, the area turns into an amphitheater carved out of rock where you can watch some of your favorite bands.
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
The Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is located in western Colorado and makes for a stunning visit.
It surrounds part of a deeply carved gorge that runs through Precambrian Rock by the Gunnison river. There’s no bridge to get from one side to the other, so you must allow a three-hour drive if you want to visit both points.
Colorado is very well known for its tall mountains, and if you want to reach the highest summit, you’ll have to visit Pikes Peak. The top of the mountain sits 14,115 feet above the Pike National Park and provides stunning views of the area.
And if climbing the massive peak doesn’t tickle your fancy, you have 19 miles of mountain trails to explore with plenty of pull-offs.
One of the most memorable experiences in Colorado is Bishop Castle; the strange thing is, you’re unlikely to find it in any guidebooks.
Bishop Castle is a hand built stone fortress, which legend has it was built by one person… Jim Bishop. He bought the land in 1959 at 15 with money he earned mowing lawns and running a paper round.
In fact, he was so young that his family had to sign the paper for him because he was underage.
Dinosaur National Monument
The Dinosaur National Monument marks a point where dinosaurs once roamed the land and gives you a fantastic look into history.
Around the area, there are plenty of hiking spots with moderate to difficult loops and exhibits where you can see dinosaur fossils.
Royal Gorge Bridge And Park
The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park has become a top-rated tourist attraction for thousands of visitors annually.
One of the main attraction points is the world’s highest suspension bridge, which hangs over a 956 feet high gorge. The bridge is suspended above the Arkansas River and held the record of being the world’s highest bridge from 1929 until 2001.
But the fun doesn’t stop there; there are more than 360 acres of land with 21 rides, shows, and attractions to visit.
The Manitou Cliff Dwellings
The Manitou Cliff Dwelling is another popular tourist attraction highlighting the ingenuity of the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings.
Unlike most cliff dwellings, the Manitou Dwelling gives people the opportunity to climb in and explore to see what life must have been like for the Native Americans that lived there before.
It sparks your imagination and makes you feel a child's curiosity while exploring; it’s truly unforgettable.
The Hanging Lake is a rare gem that many people don’t get to experience, but it should make it onto your road trip stops list.
It takes you on a 1.2-mile hike which is steep, challenging, and rocky but so rewarding by the time you make it to the centerpiece. The natural scenery of gentle waterfalls makes this National Landmark a truly awe-inspiring experience.
Final Thoughts & Takeaways
Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the US to road trip around. It’s full of stunning history that dates further back than most people think. And it’s also home to amazing landscapes that take people's breath away.
The one problem people find is knowing where to stop, but this article should help you find your way.
Road Trips > Cross Country Road Trip > Colorado Road Trip Stops
About the Author
Jason Fox: Four years ago, I decided to quit my job as a chef to travel the world and see where life took me. The skills I learned while traveling led me to become a freelance writer so I could share my experiences with the world. Since then, I've been traveling the world working as a digital nomad. Find me on Instagram.