Colorado is all about adventure in the great outdoors. It’s winter time skiing is famous around the world, and there is plenty of adventure available in the summer as well. Kayaking or rafting on white water and hiking in the mountains are just the beginning.
1. Buena Vista – This small town on the Arkansas River takes advantage of the river, and its rapids, in a great way. There are three or four companies that will take you on a white water rafting trip you won’t soon for get. There are trips ranging from a few hours to six days. Even if you’re not a fan of white water, there is still a lot of amazing scenery along the river for quieter rafting trips. The town has nice scenery, great hotels and good restaurants, near the San Isabel National Forest, southwest of Denver.
2. Vail – One of the best skiing areas anywhere is in Vail, but there is plenty of action in the summer as well. The small town is at the base of Vail mountain, at 8,000 feet. The mountain rises to 11,570 feet. The resorts and shopping that make Vail famous in winter, are still going full speed in summer. All of the great resorts are still open and sometimes better prices are offered. There are a lot of trails through the mountains, so there is mountain biking, hiking, and fly fishing to keep you busy and entertained. Plus, you can visit the world’s highest botanic garden there.
3. Canon City – White water at its best is here. Ride the Arkansas River at Royal Gorge or Clear Creek. Experience the beauty and some of the history of the state here in the wilderness. Clear creek has some class V rapids, which is for professionals and even then, its a tough but exciting ride. Plenty of other rapids not quiet as wild are also available, but white water rafting here is as good as it gets. Canon City has a of historic sites as well as a lot of great restaurants and other general tourist activities. Canon City is the home of nine state and four federal prisons, and it claims to be “Corrections Capitol of the Word.”
4. Boulder – There is a lot to do in this college town in the sky. Boulder creek runs through town, and there are a lot of great kayaking and rafting opportunities here. The Chautauqua National Monument is also on the edge of town. This park has 48 miles of hiking trails. In June, Theater Hikes of Colorado performs scenes from “Snow White” as you hike along the trial, which is a unique experience. The Chautauqua Dining Hall that has been in business since 1898 offers great food in a historic setting. The largest farmers market in Colorado is here, and the Pearl Street Mall has one of the largest collection of restaurants in the state.
5. Colorado Springs – There are some great tourist attractions in Colorado Springs, and the cool thing is they are worth the visit. The Garden of the Gods park of stone is a great way to spend a day. You may also take the Pikes Peak railway to the top of Pikes Peak, another sight that should not be missed. You may also visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and all of that without leaving town. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is always great and always expanding. Another train will take you along the Royal Gorge Bridge from Colorado Springs.
6. Crested Butte – This small town is at the base of Crested Butte, and one of the great skiing areas. It is at 2,000 feet above sea level, so not high in the mountains, but surrounded by a lot of ski resorts. Those resorts don’t close in summer, so you can still enjoy them all. The town has a four-week long music festival in summer. Some of the best mountain biking and hiking anywhere is to be found here, with hundreds of miles of trails trough the scenic valleys. There is a flower festival in July that celebrates natural wild flowers. Zip lines are also very popular around Crested Butte. The kids are not left out, as there is a children’s trailhead museum, and a kids nature camp.
7. Estes Park – The gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park is here, and this is one of the more popular summer destinations for people who live in Colorado. Elkhorn Ave. is famous for its quirky shops and trendy restaurants. There are a lot of festivals through the summer months, such as a fishing derby and a wool market. There is also a nature association that puts on half day, and full day, nature trips along trials in the mountains. Again, here you may take advantage of the ski resorts, and this is one area in Colorado where summer may actually be the heavy season.
image credit: Colorado Tourism Official Site