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Colorado boasts some of the best things to do and epic places to see in America.
The state is known for its wildlife, outdoor activities, ghost towns, gold rush days, and rich history.
There are so many places to see, hiking destinations, and cities to explore it can be hard to figure out what to do first.
What are the best things to do in Colorado and destinations that you should add to your bucket list in 2024? That’s what we are here to help you find out.
What are the best Colorado bucket list activities?
✔️ Mesa Verde National Park: Best for history buffs
✔️ Rocky Mountain National Park: Best for outdoor lovers
✔️ Red Rock Amphitheater: Best for concerts & events
Each of these Colorado bucket list activities (and many more!) are listed below with more in-depth details.
Keep reading as we share what’s on our Colorado bucket list as well as the best things to do in 2024.
Southwest Colorado is a remote gem compared to the hustle and bustle of the cities along Colorado’s Front Range.
And this is particularly true for this tour of Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is home to the largest Archaeological Preserve in the country.
It has more than 5000 points of interest and 600 cliff dwellings (which is really what it’s known for).
The cliff dwellings are as they sound… literal buildings built into the side of cliffs under overhangs.
The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings were built and occupied nearly 1,000 years ago but were abandoned for unknown reasons.
They weren’t rediscovered by Europeans until the 1800’s despite many passing through the area but simply not having the right angle to see the dwellings.
Full-Day Mesa Verde Discovery Tour
🤩 5/5 stars (80+ reviews)
Rocky Mountain National Park is another iconic destination in Colorado. The landscape is quite large and can be very rugged.
And no Colorado bucket list is complete without visiting this epic National Park. Whether you’re camping in the park itself or staying at the beautiful town of Estes Park nearby, this rugged wilderness is like nothing else in the United States.
This rustic outdoor paradise covers more than 265,000 acres of mountain peaks, valleys, lush forests, glacial lakes, and miles of hiking trails. It offers a truly unique experience, depending on the time of year you visit, as each will yield a completely different type of experience.
Throughout the summer, Rocky Mountain National Park is popular with locals and tourists for its waterfall hikes or for taking a swim in any of the alpine lakes, including Dream Lake and Emerald Lake (and yes, they are just as gorgeous as they sound).
Or go for a drive up Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuous paved road in America that takes you up a staggering 12,183 feet above treeline.
During the winter, there are more than 300 miles of hiking trails available for exploring via snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Whether you’re just going on a drive, or stopping for a hike, there are limitless areas to see and explore.
The park’s varying habitats include deer, moose and elk, and even black bears and cougars. So beware when visiting for the first time.
It will give you unmatched views of the surrounding areas, so you’ll want to bring your camera.
Rocky Mountain National Park Tour
🤩 5/5 stars (90+ reviews)
The Red Rocks Amphitheater is another iconic concert venue that’s hosted bands and musicians from Daft Punk to the Beatles.
The natural rock formations in the area make this outdoor amphitheater the perfect stage for acoustics.
The park is situated at 6,450 feet in elevation and covers 868 acres of bizarre and almost alien-like sandstone formations dotted throughout rolling hills and meadows.
And the best part? It represents the intersection between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains and offers stunning views you won’t find elsewhere in the state.
We recommend going to see this venue at least twice — once in the daytime and the other at night. Either way, it’s definitely an experience you’ll never forget.
If you don’t want to see a performance there, the park also has lots of hiking trails, and offers fitness and yoga sessions throughout the year.
Foothills & Red Rocks Tour
🤩 5/5 stars (1,400+ reviews)
Located in the southwest corner of the state, Durango is a former mining town. And it offers a stunning steam train ride through the mountains of Colorado.
The train winds in and out of the mountains for three hours with views of Colorado’s vast landscapes.
The Durango-Silverton train makes a stop in Silverton, where you’ll take a step back in time.
You can visit a real old-west mountain mining village, with all of the history over the years. It is a great experience for kids and adults alike!
Durango-Silverton Train Ticket
🤩 4.7/5 stars (likely to sell out)
The Royal Gorge Bridge outside Canon City is quite a spectacular thing to behold. This one-of-a-kind destination is like no other on this list!
The Royal Gorge is a 1,200 foot canyon that surrounds the Arkansas River and forms a 10-mile long canyon, with the bridge as its centerpiece. The entirety of the Bridge & Park sits on 360 acres and is open 365 days a year for locals and visitors.
It is a somewhat terrifying, but an amazing experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. In fact, the number one bucket list item for visiting Colorado is the Royal Gorge suspension bridge.
It’s the tallest suspension bridge in the U.S. at 1,250 feet at its highest point off the canyon floor. We have visited the Royal Gorge Bridge multiple times and each time is more awesome than the next.
The Royal Gorge is a great for kids thanks to the many kid-friendly activities, like the Plaza Theater and Children’s Playground. But there are also many fun things for adults to do as well, including the Royal Gorge Route Railroad.
The Royal Gorge Train offers a one-of-a-kind experience with three-course lunches and dinners, wine tastings, and special occasion train rides.
This ride and dine experience goes on a 24-mile round trip train ride that lasts about 2 hours and carries more than 100,000 passengers each year.
This out-and-back trip travels through the heart of the beautiful Royal Gorge, through the canyon and under the famous suspension Bridge that hangs about 1,000 feet above the gorge.
Nearby, we booked a Colorado Jeep Tour of the canyon and had a guided tour of Skyline Drive. The drive to Canon City from Denver or Colorado Springs is actually pretty pleasant.
The area is a valley so you are surrounded by mountains that protect the Bridge from harsh weather conditions.
There are so many awesome things to do in Canon City, and this makes it a great place to visit year round.
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park Ticket
🤩 4.7/5 stars (100+ reviews)
If you are planning to move to Colorado Springs you have likely Googled to learn more information about the city.
Likely, the first thing to pop up was a photo of the Garden of the Gods. And with good reason. Garden of the Gods is one of the most photographed places in Colorado.
This park is home to stunning red rock formations which are totally free to visit.
Garden of the Gods is a sprawling 1,300 acres of sandstone formations and includes more than 15 designation trails for hiking, grasslands, and a Nature & Visitor Center with a free museum.
You can take a slow drive through the park and get out to take pictures, or go for a relaxing hike. Personally, my favorite way to see Garden of the Gods is to start by driving through the park along the paved one-way road.
It’s a short 20-minute drive but is an awesome way to get familiar with the park before exploring more deeply.
Along the road at High Point, you can catch an incredible view as the towering red rock sandstone formations rise up before the mountainous backdrop of Pikes Peak and the Front Range.
We also recommend checking out the Nature & Visitor center for a free tour of the museum. Then, walk out onto the balcony for some of the most breath-taking views of the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak.
Or you can book an all-inclusive tour of Garden of the Gods from a local expert. Jump in a jeep, grab a Segway, or go for a guided hike.
Garden of the Gods Tour
🤩 5/5 stars (800+ reviews)
The Great Sand Dunes is a National Park and Preserve just outside Alamosa, Colorado in the San Luis Valley.
The dunes exist here because long ago there was a lake that covered almost all the Valley.
But due to climate change, the lake suddenly disappeared and all that was left was lots and lots of sand.
There are so many things to do when visiting the Great Sand Dunes, including hiking, biking, sandboarding, and sand sledding.
Fun fact: the Great Sand Dunes are home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. It’s true, the Star Dune is over 700 feet tall.
Great Sand Dunes Flight Tour
🤩 5/5 stars
In less than two hours north of Denver you’ll find the gorgeous mountain town of Estes Park.
It offers a wide range of outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing to more relaxed options like shopping and enjoying local cuisine.
And a bucket list isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.”
In the fall, tourists and locals alike line up for a chance to see hundreds of herds of migrating elk, as well as attend the popular Elk Fest.
An Ebike tour of Estes Park is a great way to see the sights and explore all the city has to offer in just two hours.
Other highlights include the local art scene, the Riverwalk downtown, or exploring Rocky Mountain National Park nearby.
Ebike Guided Tour in Estes Park
🤩 5/5 stars (likely to sell out)
9. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
If you’re looking for a unique and awe-inspiring destination to add to your bucket list, look no further than Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
This hidden gem in southwestern Colorado features some of the steepest cliffs and oldest rocks in North America.
The Gunnison River has carved its way through the dramatic canyon for over two million years.
Visitors can explore the stunning landscape via hiking trails or scenic drives, marveling at the towering canyon walls and breathtaking vistas.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature lover, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is sure to leave you speechless.
10. Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is a must-visit for anyone fascinated by prehistoric creatures.
Nestled in the stunning Colorado and Utah landscape, this incredible monument boasts an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils.
Take a hike to the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall and see the fossils embedded in the rock face. Or hop in a raft and float down the Green River to explore the canyon’s ancient past.
Beyond the dinos, the park offers incredible vistas, thrilling hikes, and fascinating geology.
Grab your hiking boots and explore this epic destination, where the past meets the present in spectacular fashion.
11. Colorado National Monument
If you’re looking for one of the best places to take photos with breathtaking views, check out the Colorado National Monument.
Located near Fruita, the Colorado National Monument is the state’s mini version of the Grand Canyon.
Towering canyons and rock formations cover over 20,500 acres and can be over 450 feet tall.
Be sure to bring your camera and be on the lookout for mule deer, bighorn sheep, eagles, coyotes, prairie dogs, and other ground animals.
One of the best ways to see the area is to drive along Rim Rock Drive and stop at the many overlooks along the way.
You can also explore the endless hiking and biking trails, like Devil’s Kitchen which is an easy out-and-back trail.
But beware that there are moderate elevation changes that can be more than 1,000 feet high.
12. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Voted the 6th best zoo in the country, in 2019, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is another must-see.
This is one of the only zoos in America where it is built into a mountain, and is a bit of a hike to see.
It offers panoramic views of Colorado Springs below and rustic animal exhibits. It really feels like the animals are in a natural environment.
The zoo was founded in 1926 by Spencer Penrose to house his growing collection of exotic animals.
After he died he deeded it over to the city of Colorado Springs in 1938 as a public zoo.
We highly recommend going on the Mountaineer Sky Ride gondola which is a short chair lift ride up and back down the mountain.
You can stop at the top for photos or let the kids play in the small play area.
13. Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument
The Florissant Fossil Beds is a national monument that has fields of petrified redwood stumps (sometimes getting up to 14 feet wide!).
Plus, you’ll find thousands of insect and plant fossils.
It is believed that this area used to be an ancient lakebed, making the fossils well preserved because of the volcanic ash from a nearby volcanic field.
It is still an ongoing site for paleontological activity and investigations.
In 2019 the national park celebrated its 50th anniversary and started undergoing an expansion to include more hiking trails
14. Glenwood Hot Springs
No Colorado bucket list would be complete without a visit to a mineral hot springs.
And Colorado is full of hot mineral springs that naturally pop out of the ground at very warm temperatures.
Our favorite destination is the hot springs pool at Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
It is home to the largest mineral hot springs pool and produces over 3.5 million gallons of water a day.
The resort has upgraded the pool with a lazy river ride for the entire family and fountains for kids to play in during the summer months.
A local favorite hot springs is Pagosa Springs, which we currently have on our bucket list.
Or check out the Dunton Hot Springs Resort.
This was originally an old mining town where they turned the old buildings and structures into cabins for a nice resort feel.
Colorado has countless ghost towns and gold rush mining stories. And one of the best ways to experience them is by visiting Saint Elmo.
St. Elmo is one of the best preserved and most easily accessed ghost towns in Colorado.
It actually feels like you’re on the set of an old movie!
The main street features 43 buildings near Chalk Creek Canyon, including a saloon, courthouse and jail, and many private homes.
And the ghost town is not totally abandoned as there is the St. Elmo General Store you can stop by for snacks, antiques, and souvenirs.
Or spend the night at the local bed and breakfast called, Ghost Town Guest House.
16. Crested Butte
Home to the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival that happens in mid July each year, this is another popular Colorado bucket list item.
The wildflowers can be seen from spring through fall.
In the summer they have mountain biking, hiking, fishing, climbing, horseback riding, river rafting, kayaking, and more.
If you prefer to visit during the winter, there are plenty of things to do this time of year as well.
You can ski and snowboard, enjoy sleigh and horseback rides, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
But the wildflower fields and gorgeous green hills make for beautiful summer experiences and one-of-a kind photos.
Crested Butte is even known as the “Wildflower Capital of the World” and has been around since 1986.
17. Denver’s Union Station
Denver’s Union Station is a 100 year old landmark located in the city’s downtown area.
It has been renovated and updated in a way that still captures the history of the past but has many modern features.
It is a historic feature you don’t want to miss!
You can shop at the station’s Great Hall with retail stores, eat award-winning food prepared by local Colorado chefs, or stay at the historic Crawford hotel.
We enjoy going into the station to have coffee and take in the sites during the cold winter months.
18. The Breckenridge Troll
Yep, Breckenridge has a troll problem, but it’s a good one!
The Breckenridge Troll is a 15-foot wooden sculpture expertly crafted by Danish artist, Thomas Dambo.
Isak Heartstone, as he is named, is located just southeast of downtown Breckenridge, by the Illinois Gulch trailhead.
You will find him along the appropriately named Trollstigen Trail.
The trail is considered easy to moderate difficulty and goes on for about 1.25 miles.
Isak was originally built as a part of the annual Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA).
The artist, Thomas Dambo, is known worldwide for bringing awareness to recycling and upcycling by building epic sculptures and artistic items out of trash.
19. Hanging Lake
It’s important to know that Hanging Lake is a VERY POPULAR destination and on nearly everyone’s bucket list.
So, take that into consideration when visiting this place.
But it is perfectly named because of its cliffside location, lush landscape, and pristine green water. You probably haven’t seen anything else like it!
Located right outside Glenwood Springs, Colorado makes it a nice day trip experience for any avid hiker.
You do need to make a reservation to visit as there are limited spots available each day.
20. The Continental Divide
A popular point of interest in Colorado is the Continental Divide, or the Great Divide.
The spine of this mountain range cuts through all of North and South America, starting in Alaska and going all the way down to Patagonia in Chile and Argentina.
From the top of this ridge, all water flows down either to the west coast or to the east.
You can drive through and visit this area of the mountains from Divide, Colorado or driving on I-70 into the mountains.
A popular drive is Trail Ridge Road which starts in Estes Park in the Rocky Mountain National Park area, and crosses the Great Divide.
This route is the highest continuous vehicle road in the country and should definitely not be missed.
21. Maroon Bells
Have you ever seen a generic picture of Colorado’s mountains? This is mostly likely a photo of Maroon Bells.
Located in White River National Forest, Maroon Bells is about 10 miles from Aspen, Colorado. It does require a bit of a hike to get to Maroon Valley.
But once you arrive you will see a beautiful reflective lake with two towering snow peaks — Maroon Peak and North Maroon peak.
Don’t be surprised if you see fields of wildflowers and wild animals in the summertime. And pictures can never do this place justice!
22. Paint Mines Interpretive Park
If you are looking for a unique non-mountain Colorado experience, check out the Paint Mines Interpretive Park.
This is very unique it is actually out east on the plains instead of heading west into the mountains.
The park showcases painted rocks that are made up of layers of different colored rocks.
These rocks have varying degrees of iron oxidized in them that have been exposed to weather over thousands of years, giving it layers of different colors.
The park is actually located in the same county as Colorado springs, El Paso county via Highway 24 going out east from the Springs.
Fun fact: the Paint Mines rocks were used by the Native Americans for creating different shades of colors for painting.
23. Pikes Peak in Pike National Forest
Pikes Peak is called America’s Mountain and is America’s most famous mountain because it was the inspiration behind “America the Beautiful”.
Yep, the “purple mountain majesties” part of the song is talking about Pikes Peak! And you really can ascend above the clouds here.
It is one of Colorado’s fourteeners, and you can bike up and down the mountain, hike the trails, or take a drive.
There is also a shuttle service to the top you can ride, or is mandatory for travelers during peak seasons due to limited parking at the top.
At the top is a visitor center and a View House where you can check out the amazing views from 360 degrees.
It is very high up so be careful of getting altitude sickness or if you are scared of heights.
Another thing to watch out for are the mandatory brake checks while driving down. Taking your time when driving down the mountain as slow as steady is the best policy here.
24. Mount Princeton Hot Springs
It’s no secret that I love visiting Colorado natural hot springs all year long. And one of my favorite places is a local hidden gem called Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.
This hot springs destination is a true resort getaway in Colorado as the location is secluded and covers 70 acres of land.
The resort features several large pools with a water slide, rustic creek-side hot springs, and a full spa. If you want to relax in the mineral hot springs water that bubbles naturally out of the ground you’re going to love this destination.
One unique aspect of this hot springs is that the hot water that gurgles out of the ground is it is completely scent free. It doesn’t carry that strong and familiar rotten eggs smell you get from the sulfur at most hot springs!
Mt Princeton Hot Springs is within a relatively short distance as it’s less than 2.5 hours southwest of Denver and about 2 hours west of Colorado Springs.
It’s also conveniently located in Nathrop, between the small mountain towns of Salida and Buena Vista. So, there’s plenty of lodging, sightseeing, hiking, eating, and drinking options nearby.
Important: If you just moved to Colorado consider taking several months to acclimate to the weather and altitude.
Living at high altitude is much different than sea level and you may get altitude sickness if you attempt to do too much within your first year living here.
There are so many things to do no matter how long you have lived in Colorado. And makes it difficult to know where to start.
We hope you were able to learn about all of the epic things to do in Colorado this year and what makes each one so fun.
Use this as a guide for your Colorado bucket list and enjoy your next year of living in this awesome state.