Fall Top 20 Must See Colorado Attractions
It is about time for me to once again hit the road, this time for my last big camping trip of the year. The air is crisp and cooler and before the leaves of fall begin to truly fall I wanted to get out and explore the beauty around me with a very unique and challenging trip.
Heading out toward Colorado from my Texas home I intend on seeing fall in its most amazing form through the leaves and trees which play host to golden tones mixed with amber hues. Unlike many areas of Texas which don’t experience those true fall colors, the areas which I will be visiting are known for these picturesque qualities and will make for an amazing conclusion to my camping season.
But the trip will be more than selfies in the fall leaves, I wanted to dot my agenda with numerous unique aspects of the area just like I have done with many other trips. So the research began until I had a list of 20 or more items to sift through for the journey. It is always hard to take this list and narrow it to only a few achievable items, so rather than doing so before hand I decided this trip to play it by ear and based on weather and time meander through the Colorado geography with an open mind toward accomplishing as many of these as possible.
Top 20 Things I Want To Do In Colorado:
20 - Hanging Lake - Located at Glenwood Canyon, it is one of the most picturesque lakes with its clear bottom and trees seemingly suspended over the waters edge. Fed by a large waterfall those hiking to the lake can explore several paths around the lake with little difficulty although the trail leading to the lake (only about a mile) is considered to be difficult due to the rocky terrain.
19 - Rainbow Falls - Also known as Graffiti Falls this site is located in the Colorado Springs region. One of the simplest hikes you will encounter, just a short even path off the parking area, the waterfall itself is quite the site as it has become a canvas for many local artist looking to leave their colorful marks on the area. While many might be annoyed by the defacing of the area, it is in fact what has made this site popular to visit as the ever changing surroundings make this natural attraction unlike any other.
18 - 7 Falls - A series of 7 falls cascading down a mountainside the steep stairs at this site create quite the journey for those wishing to visit. Illuminated at night the falls have become a staple for those visiting and while privately owned and a fee area, the sight of these falls is so impressive it makes it worth the small cost, which also includes access to falls trails on the property and several structures.
17 - Mesa Verde - Cliff Dwellings unlike any others, this National Park has preserved a piece of culture and history. It is impressive to see how without technology entire cities were created in such an elaborate and perfect form. This is a must stop for those who appreciate details and learning more about culture.
16 - Garden of the Gods - This is the site where 5 hiking trails and an epic museum seem to converge into the perfect stop of education and adventure in Colorado Springs. Perhaps one of the easiest ways for those wanting to explore the Red Rocks of Colorado without the hassle of difficult hikes, this National Nature Center is a perfect fit for all skill levels.
15 - Bishop Castle - A man-made wonder this castle is a single man’s life work in the community of Rye. His work seems to never stop and though in more recent years he has fallen ill, you can still see him on the property working away with only the blue print of his minds eye and creativity. Donning a grand room or cathedral with stained glass, a guardian dragon and now the beginnings of a moat, the castle is something out of storybooks and a must stop.
14 - Helen Hunt Falls - Another stop off in Colorado Springs, this 36’ drop of a waterfalls is a part of the North Cheyenne Canon Park trail system which features accessible trails for all levels. One of the most well known stops for those seeking a short day hike, this waterfall has been photographed time and time again during all seasons.
13 - Great Sand Dunes National Park - Simply put, the largest Sand Dunes in America, and all in the shadow of a beautiful mountainside. Dunes here are so substantial that you can hike or even sandbar on them making them a destination for adventure seekers wanting to try something new. For those looking for a unique terrain this one is for you! I want to try some sand boarding for sure and for only $20 a day you can without having to have all the gear of snowboarding!
12 - International Church - Not your typical church! In fact when I first saw this one I thought it was just a really unique art experience, only to find out it was a church of enlightenment. Open to the public for viewing the ceiling is like looking into a kaleidoscope and worth a quick stop by to see. Don’t worry they aren’t trying to convert you to some belief system they just want to show off their unique art.
11 - Olympic Training Facility - For years top athletes have sought out the most extreme training methods and apparently the altitude of Colorado seems to help that along. Nestled in Colorado Springs, the facility hosts numerous athletes preparing for the biggest stage in the world with top trainers pushing them along the way. Tours are available throughout the day offering a description of each sport training at the facility and it is not uncommon for you to spot a few of those representing the United States in action. What better place to show off to friends when you go home than this one as you stand atop the winners platform on in the traditional Olympic Rings.
10 - Cascade Falls - Amongst all the larger communities many times people miss out on the hidden gems like Ouray where Cascade Falls Park hides away just waiting to be explored. One of the shortest hikes with the biggest pay offs this falls is only about a 10 minute walk from parking on a easy trail. This is considered one of the more visitor friendly photographic waterfalls as you can get close to it without strain or stress.
9 - St. Elmo - One of the most visited “ghost towns” in Colorado, this town is lost in time as windows adorn curtains buildings have been preserved and look to have people walk out at any time to meander down the dusty roads. A former gold and silver mining community this town seems timeless as tourism has brought it back to life and its location, unlike many only accessible by 4 wheel drives or 4 wheelers, allow the average person to drive in and step back in time.
8 - John Denver Sanctuary - This one isn’t on everyone’s list, but in Aspen rests the Sanctuary for legendary singer and humanitarian, John Denver. Dedicated to his memory the park is lined with trails of natural beauty and motivational quotes not only by the man but by others. This just seems a great stop for some positive vibes when traveling.
7 - Ashcroft & Independence Townsites - Much like St. Elmo, these two mining communities once stood bold and proud in their legacy which helped shape the west. However, mined were abandoned and left them to decay with the passing wind as foliage reclaimed their place amongst them. It was later that preservation began and restored some of the existing history which lay in the land for those wishing to learn a bit about a time long since passed.
6 - Rainbow Hot Springs - Just north of Pagosa Springs is a unique natural stop around 4.5 miles down a hiking trail, a natural hot springs. While several exist in Colorado, this one is set apart for its unmodified state in the countryside on the side of a mountain. Hiking here you can then delve into the warm waters and enjoy the mountain surroundings for a moment of quite reflection just how nature intended it.
5 - Four Corners - It is a thing everyone should do once, stand in 4 states at once and take that iconic picture. And while you might end up standing in line with the other countless tourists to do so it is a picture to check off the list of “Been there done that”.
4 - Ride the Gondola over the Royal Gorge - It isn’t enough to simply walk the bridge you must take the gondola into the gorge itself and feel the rush of being suspended by a single wire over one of the deepest gorges in world. While you are there you can also find your state’s flag along the bridge or enjoy one of the countless other activities, but the gondola is a MUST!
3 - Telluride - The community of Telluride features to many options to list them separately! It is a day trip all its own if you are an adventurer with 3 large waterfall trails including the tallest free falling waterfall in the state and the ghost town of Alta just outside the community bounds it is just waiting to be explored. But that just is what is on the surface, in town a village of unique businesses targeting the ski community by winter and the average visitor by spring and summer.
2 - Maroon Bells - Known as one of the most coveted viewing points for fall foliage in the state. Its popularity has spurred a bus tour of the location during the fall months for those wishing to spend some time getting to know the area with guidance. Many of the unique photos you have seen online about Colorado during fall have been taken at this location with the towering mountains surrounding a mirrored lake reflecting all the amazing colors of fall.
1 - Pikes Peak - Yep I want to hike one of the 14,000 mountains in Colorado! Of course this one isn’t an easy quick hike, it takes planning as altitude changes from bottom to top are intense and the hike itself can last between 6 and 8 hours one way depending on conditioning. But weather permitting, this one is the TOP of the list this trip!!
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