Colorado is famed for its natural beauty, which is only accented by rich natural diversity. With soaring mountains, tumbling rivers, deep canyons, tall forests, vibrant ski towns and even sand dunes, Colorado has the best of it all within their borders. For those looking to explore the natural scenery in Colorado, they will be spoiled for choice, but here are some of its most fabulous sights that are guaranteed to take your breath away.
Pikes Peak in Pike National Forest
Located a few kilometres from Manitou Springs is the mountain of Pikes Peak that dominates the surrounding skyline. This imposing mountain rises 4,300 meters above the surrounding wilderness and is one of the best places to get a view of Colorado. While there are a number of challenging trails that lead up to the summit, it can also be scaled by an equally difficult toll road which is the route of the annual car rally held here each July. From the summit, the mountain hosts breath-taking views far and wide into Colorado. On clear days, it is said that summit travellers can see into Denver and as far as into New Mexico, which is why it attracts large numbers of hikers throughout the year. According to local legend, Pikes Peak inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write the words of the beloved American song "America the Beautiful".
Mesa Verde in Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is home to some of the most famous Native American ruins in the United States. These ruins, the eponymous Mesa Verde, used to be a massive town, but unlike other Native American settlements, this one was carved right into the side of a cliff. These ruins were thought to be built in the 1190s but the Pueblo natives that had settled in the area. Their unique houses provided unparalleled safety from both attack from other native tribes and the elements, leading them to live in this area for more than 600 years. The Mesa Verde collection of ruins includes five different locations that are each uniquely fascinating. Many of the settlements require guided tours to ensure the safety of both the ruins and visitors since they on occasion involve climbing down the side of a cliff to get to.
Garden of the Gods outside of Colorado Springs
Located outside of Colorado Spring, the Garden of the Gods is a playground for the outdoors person in Colorado. This unique natural area is filled with interesting sandstone rock formations as well as lush wilderness that one would not expect to find among the desert scenery. This surprising vibrancy is one of the reasons the area got its name. It is one of the most popular places for Colorado's city folk to get out and enjoy the natural landscape on foot or on their bikes due to a number of trails that wind through the landscape and it also includes great distance views of Pikes Peak towering above. Surprisingly, the Garden of the Gods is actually a city park of Colorado Springs rather than a State or National Park. This was an effort strived for by its founders who wanted to keep the space free to visit forever, which it still remains.
The Maroon Bells in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness sprawls between the White River and Gunnison National Forests in Colorado. The area is renowned in the state for its towering (and occasionally maroon-coloured in the right light) mountains, rushing rivers and placid, reflective lakes. With peaks towering over the landscape in excess of 4,000 meters, the mountains are some of the most photographed in the United States as well as some of the most climbed. However, visitors don't need to be mountain climbers to enjoy this slice of wilderness, the park hosts over 200 kilometers of hiking trail in which to explore as well as plentiful wildlife to spot within. With its close location to Aspen, those visiting the city outside of ski season will find that it definitely does not lack an abundance of activity outdoors outside of ski season.
The Great Sand Dunes in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The sand dunes found with Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is among some of the most unexpected sights in Colorado. Outsiders expect Colorado to be all lush forests and Rocky Mountains, but thanks to thousands of years of wind blowing sand from the arid San Luis Valley onto the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado has their very own massive sand dunes. Some of these dunes measure in excess of 200 meters tall and require more energy than expected to make the climb to the top. In the summer, the sands can reach temperatures of 60 degrees C and are also prone to fierce and sudden thunderstorms, making an expedition in the area into an unforgettable adventure. For those that wander outside the area of the dunes, mountains trails through cooler conifer forests and past creeks and alpine lakes make for even more exploration of the area.