Sadly our beloved summer days are dwindling, and as the long days of sunshine, slurpees and swim parties fade you’ll find yourself asking where did the time go? Did you climb enough mountains this summer, see enough sights, swim through rough currents, and camp fireside? Did you do everything this summer you set out to do? If not, don’t worry quite yet, we’ve compiled an easy-to-follow guide to successfully enjoy a Colorado summer in one week. So cash in on those vacation days, pack your car games and layers, and get ready to complete your summertime bucket list.
Day 1 :: Road Trip to The Great Sand Dunes National Park
No summer is complete without a road trip, and this year should be no different. Pack your bags and get an early start for your journey to the San Dunes. Travel along Interstate 285 so you can stop through Colorado Springs on the way. There you can take a mid-afternoon break, and enjoy a packed lunch at the Garden of the Gods, one of Colorado’s most iconic land formations.
Continue towards the Sand Dunes via I-285, one of the prettiest drives in the state. The drive from Denver is just over four hours, so be sure to pack some snacks and games to play in the car. Once there, you will enjoy memorable views and numerous nearby day hikes and campgrounds. At the Sand Dunes there are several options for camping, our favorite though is camping right on the sand. Permits go quickly, so be sure to reserve your space ahead of time. Have fun walking, sledding, or just laying out on the 30-square miles of soft, hot sand.
Day 2 :: Next stop, Buena Vista
No Colorado summer is complete without a day on the water. Head north on US-285 past the San Isabel mountain range, home of the Collegiate Peaks. There you can view some of Colorado’s highest Fourteeners, and stop for an afternoon break amidst the breathtaking view of lush pastures and teetering mountain peaks. Just past the San Isabel National Forest is Buena Vista. There you can enjoy a half-day of guided rafting down Browns Canyon. Enjoy class action rapids, killer views, and another check on your bucket list. Take a break in Buena Vista at a hidden luxury resort, nestled deep in the Colorado wilderness. Enjoy top-tier amenities, warm food, hot showers, and a cozy place to spend the night.
Day 3 :: Camping At Twin Lakes
After a day of fishing and hiking, bundle up for the night at a campground at Twin Lakes. Surrounded by jagged peaks, the Twin Lakes offer an unbeatable place to spend the night. Nearby restaurants make it an easy stop after a long day on the water. If all you want after a long day of hiking and fishing, is a warm shower and a comfortable bed, take a load of at the Windspirit Cottage and Cabins, where you can still enjoy the one-of-a-kind view, but have time to recuperate from your journey so far.
Prepare for an early start, so you can do what every Coloradan must do at some point, and climb a Fourteener. Nearby Mount Elbert, is rated the easiest Fourteener in Colorado, but don’t get too confident. Even if you don’t make it to the summit, the experience of climbing is worth the time. Fourteeners, require their climbers to be prepared, so be sure to pack extra water, supportive footwear, extra socks, food and layers so you wont be caught off guard. As is the case with any hike in Colorado, dark clouds mean it’s time to head home, lightning is always a threat on a mountain peak, which means start before the sun is up, so you can be off the mountain by noon.
Day 4 :: Snowmass Village
Your drive from Twin Lakes will lead you through Aspen, Colorado. Stop for the day to enjoy delicious food from local restaurants like Mezzaluna, or Boogies Diner. Spend the day walking around one of Colorado’s most famous towns, and enjoy a quick gondola ride up Aspen Mountain where you will get a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountain peaks. A day in Aspen is not complete without a stop at Paradise Bakery for a taste of their slow-churned ice cream. Sit and enjoy live music from the nearby classical music students, in the warm summer air.
Load up the troops again, for a brief trip to Snowmass where you can spend the night camping or in one of the many hotels. Enjoy dinner at any of their restaurants and spend the evening leisurely walking around town and people watching for a relaxed, but lovely summer evening.
Day 5 :: Breckenridge Colorado
Every summer needs a little R&R and after the trip you’ve already had you’ll be ready for a spa day in Breckenridge. Less than two hours outside of Snowmass, on your way back to Denver, stop for the afternoon in the small ski town of Breckenridge. Treat yourself to a day at the spa with a healing massage thanks to the Relaxation Wishlist. Enjoy world-class burgers, fries and cold beers on an outdoor patio on Main Street. With sweeping views, a laid back atmosphere, and a newly relaxed you, you’ll find Breckenridge to be the perfect break after your Colorado adventures.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
It’s an unspoken requirement of every Coloradan to go to at least one concert at Red Rocks a year. Thankfully, there are still quite a few concerts on the calendar. Plan ahead and grab tickets soon to see great music at the best concert venue in the Country (and yes, we’re sure). Red Rocks is just a couple of hours outside of Breckenridge so you’ll have no trouble making it in time after your day of massages and burgers.
Day Six :: A Day In Denver
Spend the day in the mile high city enjoying good food, great company, and afternoon strolls through galleries. Begin your day at the Clifford Still Museum where you can view the only collection of the famed artist’s work. Then, walk across the street to the Denver Art Museum where you can view a mix of contemporary and collected art. In Denver, the hardest thing about eating is picking a restaurant. For lunch, we recommend something light and easy like The Market on Larimer Square, which has something for everyone. For dinner dress up a bit for food and drinks at Linger (although be sure to call at the start of the week for reservations), which has one of the best rooftop bars in town. Spend the end of your night in line at Little Man Ice Cream, where waiting for dessert is part of the fun. With a line that stretches around the block you’ll have plenty of time to chat with friends and listen to live music.
Day Seven :: Back To Boulder
Whether you started your journey in Boulder or not, the college town is the perfect place to end a Colorado summer in one week. Walk down Pearl Street Mall where you can watch street performers and often listen to live music. Take a trip to the local’s farmers market to grab fresh vegetables and fruit to take home with you. For lunch we recommend somewhere with a patio where you can people watch, our favorites are Hapa or Riffs. Spend the last night of your week of summer around a campfire, with good friends, homemade food, and melted s’mores, for the ending to a perfect week. And there you have it, the perfect way to complete a Colorado summer in one week.
We know it’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but after this week you’ll truly feel you packed it full. What’s on your Colorado summer bucket list? Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page. As always, stay up to date with all Wishlist news by following us here or on any of the social media platforms.