The Colorado Tourist Attractions You Should Actually Visit

When you visit a new city or town, it can be tempting to spend most of your time trekking from one tourist destination to the next. While seeing the Statue of Liberty or walking the Golden Gate Bridge may be terrific photo ops, and even fulfill some items on your bucket list, often the heart of the city lies behind the postcard façade. Denver may not have a giant gleaming silver bean or a walkway of stars but it is no stranger to the tourist destination allure. In hopes of leading you away from The Cherry Creek Mall (ranked one of the top tourist destinations in the state) and more towards the truly spectacular Colorado spots, we’ve compiled a list of the Colorado tourist attractions you should actually visit.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Photo Courtesy of Red Rocks Ampitheater
Photo Courtesy of Red Rocks Ampitheater

If you search where to go in Colorado, you will undoubtedly see Red Rocks topping most lists. It may be a go-to for tourists, but Red Rocks is a haven for locals and visitors alike. If you are able to catch a show at this iconic concert venue, you will be rewarded with a life-changing experience. On any given day, though, Red Rocks remains a must see for tourists. Enjoy a hike around the scenic venue, or walk the stairs and enjoy the Red Rocks music museum, which chronicles some of the amphitheater’s most famous guests from the Beatles to U2.

Pikes Peak

Photo Courtesy of Pikes-Peak
Photo Courtesy of Pikes-Peak

Mountain climbers flock to Colorado by the busload. Most have come to summit some if not all of Colorado’s famed fourteeners. Although many of our illustrious mountains aren’t suited for the casual climber, Pikes Peak is friendly both to die-hard mountaineers and passersby. At just over 14,000 feet, Pikes Peak offers sweeping views of scenic Colorado all conveniently located at the top of a paved road. If you’re setting out to climb a fourteener, Sherman, Pikes Peak and Quandary are great places to start.

The Royal Gorge

Photo Courtesy of the Royal Gorge
Photo Courtesy of the Royal Gorge

Until a few years ago the Royal Gorge Bridge held the title of the world’s highest bridge hovering over the Arkansas River at 1,053 feet. This feat of ingenuity and engineering is not for the faint of heart. Peering over the side of the bridge you can see for miles down the Arkansas River and staggering cliff faces. The Royal Gorge can provide a full day of fun with daily rafting trips, a Buffalo paddock and more, making it a tourist attraction even locals can enjoy.

Mesa Verde National Park

Photo Courtesy of Visit Mesa Verde
Photo Courtesy of Visit Mesa Verde

Admittedly Mesa Verde is a bit of a drive from Denver, but it is well worth a spontaneous road trip. While it is both informational and scenic, what makes Mesa Verde so spectacular is its hidden location and storied history. Surrounding it are winding trails nestled deep within Colorado national parkland. Constructed in the alcove a cliff face, the Mesa Verde dwellings are some of the best preserved in the world. In fact, Mesa Verde National Park is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States.

Maroon Bells

Photo Courtesy of Aspen Chamber
Photo Courtesy of Aspen Chamber

At the end of a long, twisting road, that runs upwards from Highlands towards the small mountain town of Gunnison, rests perhaps the most famous of Colorado peaks: The Maroon Bells. Your drive, via bus, will lead you past a collection of reindeer, idyllic ranches sprinkled with aspen trees, and hillsides scarred by the serpentined paths of past avalanches. It is in large, due to its hidden nature, that the Maroon Bells are so breathtaking. With a crystalline lake at the base of the jagged peaks, an afternoon spent at this tourist destination is an afternoon well spent.

There are many reasons people visit Colorado, none of which are lessened by their popularity ranking by tourists. Whether you spend your days visiting the Stanley Hotel made famous by Stephen King, or wandering through Rocky Mountain National Park, you are sure to have a wonderful vacation in Colorful Colorado. Did we miss your favorite Colorado adventure? Be sure to share by commenting below or on our facebook.

The Colorado Bucket List (Sneak Preview)

As the ominous clouds that overtook the state for nearly a week finally dissipate, light is shed on the widespread destruction the floods incurred across the Front Range. We are indeed in the wake of a disaster and we must lend a hand to our neighbors and friends who have lost their homes and cars and more. Coloradans are a resilient people, often banding together in rows of support when tragedy threatens our beloved state and home. In the aftermath of the flood, there is no doubt that, once again, Coloradans across the Front Range will persevere and rebuild.

In lieu of this trying week, and in recognition of the fact that often on Friday’s what you need most is an uplifting story or perhaps a hug, we would like to share with you a few reasons why Colorado really is the best state (or why you should move here if you live somewhere else). This is a precursor to our upcoming post, The Ultimate Colorado Bucket List, but because we have all been through so much recently, we felt you deserved a sneak preview.

Here is what the Wishlist team deemed the top five things to do in Colorado:

Photo Courtesy of Red Rocks
Photo Courtesy of Red Rocks

Red Rocks Amphitheater– Red Rocks Amphitheater is nearly synonymous with Colorado. It is almost impossible to mention one without the other, so its no surprise this iconic outdoor arena snagged the number one spot on our Bucket List. Recently named the number one amphitheater in the country by Rolling Stone Magazine, Red Rocks is the crème de la crème of all concert venues. The venue itself is sandwiched by two red jagged cliff faces, giving the arena its name. From any seat in the arena you will get a sweeping view of Colorado that is sure to send a chill down your spine. Praised by artists and concertgoers alike, Red Rocks is nothing short of magical. Enjoy everything from movie nights, world-class concerts, yoga sessions and exercise classes.

Camping Amongst Quaking Aspens During Peak Foliage Season– We realize this isScreen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.59.51 PM a bit specific, but if you’ve ever experienced it, we are sure you will agree. Fall is often heralded as the loveliest time of year, and most of us at Wishlist would agree. There is something comforting in the warm hues of the changing leaves and the sweet clattering of Aspen trees in the cool fall breeze that remind us how truly wonderful life is. We are big proponents of spending your weekend camping  inside a hidden grove of Aspen trees, making this our number two bucket list item.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service

Sand Dunes National Park- If you think giant mounds of sand are boring, you would be wrong. The Sand Dunes provide visitors with a vast landscape of yes, you guessed it, sand. In their most basic form they are perhaps just a very large, often very hot, sandbox, but for some inexplicable reason the Sand Dunes can provide even the most cynical of visitors with hours of fun. Imagine yourself a stranded pirate weaving your way through a never ending desert, or grab a sled and some goggles and cruise down the hilled landscape. For any adventurer the Sand Dunes are something that shouldn’t be missed, making this (and rightfully so) the third activity on our Colorado Bucket List.

Photo Courtesy of Glenwood Hotsprings
Photo Courtesy of Glenwood Hotsprings

Glenwood Hot Springs- The Glenwood Hot Springs combine the sheer relaxation of a dip in the tub with the breathtaking beauty of a Colorado mountain town. It is as if you relocated your tub to the center of a mountain scene. Take in the beauty of Glenwood Springs and the therapeutic powers of the Hot Springs for an unbeatable day. A visit to the hot springs doesn’t require much convincing, making this the fourth activity on our bucket list.

A Night At The Broadmoor- At Wishlist we are all about adventures and exploring Colorado’s expansive outdoors, but that doesn’t mean we don’t crave room service and

Photo Courtesy of The Broadmoor
Photo Courtesy of The Broadmoor

spa days. The Broadmoor is a world-class hotel that provides its guests with five star amenities and easy access to some of Colorado’s best hikes. A weekend away at the Broadmoor is guaranteed to leave you relaxed and rejuvenated, making it easy to reward the fifth spot on our bucket list to this Colorado historic hotel.

Stay tuned for the rest of our Colorado Bucket List by signing up for our newsletter. As always, we love to hear about the activities that make your life in Colorado so wonderful. Share your own bucket list activities by commenting below or on our facebook page.

My Favorite Experience: Seeing A Sold-Out Show At Red Rocks

By: Jessica McWhirt

Surrounded by “Creation,” “Ship” and “Stage” – all rocks, amplifying Mumford & Sons. My sister, Vanessa, bought us tickets to Mumford & Sons at Red Rocks. Tickets sold out in a matter of minutes and we had two. Our seats were nowhere near the stage. People would call it the “nosebleed” section. We started hiking our way up to our designated seats. Halfway up, we decided we had gone far enough and picked a random spot. I was worried we had taken other people’s seats. Vanessa told me to get over it. People started filling up the seats near us. I anxiously waited for a confrontation.

The first band came on. Row by row the crowd started rising. We stood for the band and danced a little. The sky started to grow darker and the music grew louder. I had forgotten we weren’t in our seats. Two men and a woman looked at our seat numbers and stood next to Vanessa and I. We befriended these people: two were husband and wife, and the other was the wife’s brother. They offered us a beer then asked how old we were. Of course, they thought my younger sister was older than me. It happens every time. We all talked about college and our dreams for the future. I told them I was leaving to Ireland in a month and this was my last concert with my sister. Just before I started to worry when the next time I’d be back at Red Rocks, Mumford & Sons walked on stage. As they set up, strangers confronted us about the seats we were in. Our new friends told the strangers we’d all just share the spot. They agreed and we all squished together as Mumford started singing “I Will Wait.”

There’s no better place to listen and watch your favorite band than at Red Rocks. “Creation Rock” and “Ship Rock” surrounded the stands and framing the stage. Lights illuminated the sandy red, spotlighting all the cracks; sometimes even finding a head popping out. The rocks formed a tunnel of air that dried the sweat from our foreheads. The crowd grew louder as the band wailed on their instruments. We could feel theirJess and Ness emotions behind the music and through the vibrations in the ground from the bass. The crowd swayed and danced and held their arms in the fresh air sending some kind of wave of energy that shook the light strung across our heads. I had no idea Mumford & Sons were filming the show, but I saw the cameras flying over everyone. I found out later it was for their “I Will Wait” video. Vanessa and I danced with our concert friends, the wind keeping us cool, and our friends keeping us laughing. At the climax of their last song cannons shot out coloured bits of paper, or maybe it was just confetti. The lights and colour fell on top of the crowd like some kind of blanket. Mumford & Sons said it was their dream to play at Red Rocks. They told us how amazing the crowd was and we felt the same way about the band.

Have a story of your own to tell? We love experiences that create indelible memories. My Favorite Experience is a new feature celebrating the stories of memorable experiences. We’re looking for stories from people who gave a gift or those who received an experience as a gift or, even if it was just a memorable experience in Colorado. We’d love to share your story!