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
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.
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
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
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.
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.