Looking for the best Colorado road trips? Whether you are local to Colorado or have moved here recently, there is so much to explore. Known for its stunning views, sunny disposition, and outdoor adventure, Colorado continues to attract people from out of state. It’s easy to understand why.
As the availability of urban activities has shifted this year, people have flocked west to explore more of Colorado. When trying to purchase a new bike rack here in Denver, one vendor threw up his hands saying he could not keep recreational equipment in stock, adding that “the entire city decided to go discover the mountains” this year.
While he may feel flustered by this influx, the rest of us will happily pack up the car and head out. We’ve put together a list of the best Colorado road trip for fall and winter getaways.
Finding The Best Colorado Road Trip For Your Style
When it comes to road trips, some folks prefer to take it easy, be pampered, and visit renowned fine dining spots. Others are happy sleeping under the stars or in their car for a few days. Personally, I think life needs a bit of both. Whichever camp you prefer, Colorado can accommodate every type of traveler.
With mask mandates and safety guidelines still in place across the state, it is also important to consider your comfort level in traveling under these circumstances. Expect to wear a mask most places, and you can still have a good time hiking, dining, skiing, and enjoying other things outdoors. Take a look at our recommendations…
Best Colorado Road Trips For Couples
Crested Butte: Start by booking a room at classic Elk Mountain Lodge or charming Scarp Ridge Lodge. Whether you and yours enjoy hiking all day or finding the best local brew, Crested Butte accommodates it all without the big mountain town rush.
Strawberry Hot Springs: Available through reservation only, this intimate hot springs and lodge is the perfect getaway. Although Steamboat is further away, the drive is worth it for this romantic setting. Steamboat is another Colorado getaway with lots of options for restaurants, lodging, and skiing.
Ouray and Telluride: A six hour drive from Denver, famed Ouray and Telluride have some of the most astonishing mountain views in the State. Known for their old timey town vibes and hikes that will make your Instagram followers jealous, this area of Colorado is worth experiencing any time of the year.
Best Colorado Road Trips For Families
Breckinridge, CO: Family favorite Breck has more than meets the eye. Check out Mountain Top Cookie Shop or Clints for a sweet treat, and choose from a range of restaurants for dinner. After a highly publicized move, seeing the Breckinridge troll in its new home is an awesome activity for the whole family. Don’t forget to take the gondola up to Peak 8 and take in the view.
Buena Vista: BV may not make every list for best Colorado road trips, but it deserves a shoutout. Buena Vista and nearby Salida are both close to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and near the new Collegiate Peak Scenic and Historic Byway. Take the family to see a historic Ghost Town like St. Elmo and picture yourself as a gold miner bracing the frontier. If you plan on skiing, Buena Vista is close to Monarch Mountain, or drive a little further to access Breckenridge.
Montrose and Gunnison: While Montrose and Gunnison are on opposing sides of geological wonder Black Canyon of the Gunnison, both made this list for their small-town charm and affordability. Try searching for an AirBnB, and plan at least a few days to see the surrounding area, including historic Montrose and the Curecanti River. Cooler temps make for pleasant hikes at the typically exposed Black Canyon, and the views are incredible.
Day Trip Drives From Denver That Count As Mini Road Trips
Packed when the fall leaves are at their prime, you may miss the traffic by driving this beautiful pass in October and later in the season. Aspens stun on the way up as you incline towards the tundra and expansive views. Drive the entire pass to connect through Old Georgetown and stop for a hot drink. The pass closes for the winter the Monday after Thanksgiving each year.
This state park is a hidden gem outside of Conifer, just south of Denver. Part of Colorado’s newest state park was originally owned by Frances Hornbrook Staunton. He donated 1,720-acres to Colorado State Parks in 1986. Now 3,828 acres, miles of hiking trails pleasantly weave through this beautiful open space. You can also see historic buildings from when the property was a homestead ranch in the early 20th century.
Always a great way to spend a weekend or just a day, drive northwest towards Rocky Mountain National Park. While you still need to make a reservation for an entry time, you have a two-hour window to get into the park and enjoy as much time as you’d like. Try to spot a moose going about his business or hike to Emerald Lake. Finish the day by driving over Trail Ridge Road, maxing at 12,183 feet in elevation. You’ll want to bring a jacket (or two) for the stunning views at the top.
Winter Lovers, Your Time Is Coming
As we move into colder months, this winter will be one to remember. Coloradans will welcome a ski season unlike anything we have ever experienced. Our culture of adventure and restlessness will keep people traveling within the state, even in small doses. Something we love about Colorado is how many winter activities come to life like skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and snowmobiling. Does sledding count?!
This year may look different, but there will still be many chances to enjoy Colorado this fall and winter. With safety measure in place, events like Zoo Lights and the ice sculpture festival in Breck are hoping to make it happen. If you’re new to CO and worried about frigid winters, keep in mind that the dryer climate can make the colder temperatures feel more manageable. Even the go-getters need a fireplace and spiked hot drinks at the end of an chilly, adventurous day.
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