I’m not much of a city person or a national parks person and prefer to be away from the herds of people and look for my amazing places off the path. That being said there’s some beauty in the Front Range. By the way, I will tell you here about Colorado like The Best Waterfalls, Best Alpine Lakes, Best Towns, Best Hot Springs Best Swimming Holes, and so on. Let’s start.
Best Places to see the Autumn colors in Colorado
Guanella Pass is near Georgetown Colorado. With vivid colors and proximity to Denver, this is a very popular road for leaf peepers. Some people stop for a bit, take the train, or make their way over the 23-mile road to Grant, then from there into Breckenridge via Boreas pass. Some other good Aspen areas in the Front Range our highway 119 and 72 going from Blackhawk through Netherland to Estes Park. There are a lot of colors in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Summit County Colorado
Summit County Colorado with the gore and the ten-mile range there’s a lot to see. There many hikes near Breckenridge, Frisco and in the lightly traveled Gore range. A nice drive would be over Boreas pass near Breckenridge or you could go down Highway 9 to see the colors in the Gore range and make your way to Steamboat Springs. Another beautiful leaf-peeping area.
Steamboat Springs a beautiful old ranching town in northern Colorado. Most of the colors here can be seen north of town or going east of town on Highway 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass. If you are lucky you’ll see some sheep grazing in the fields as well.
The Swatch mountain range going from Leadville to Salida. One of the best places to see Aspens are from Leadville via train or the twin lakes area. A popular aspen drive from twin lakes would be Independence Pass going into the town of Aspen. Or from Buena Vista going over Cottonwood Pass. Both are full of remarkable colors.
Cottonwood Pass would bring you over to Crested Butte. The picturesque town of Crested Butte is also full of colors. You can see or access most of them via the old wagon trail east of town.
The million-dollar highway is another great highway to see some Aspen’s. The town of Ouray and Silverton offers some amazing views along with tons of ghost towns.
From Silverton, with a good off-road vehicle, you can make your way to Lake City. Lake City has some of the best colors I have ever seen a good place to see them is on Lake San Cristobal or from slumgullion pass via 149.
Town of Creed
On the other side of the slumgullion summit are even more colors. Around the town of Creed are some amazing colors mixed with cliffs and old buildings from centuries ago.
Most Unique or Strangest Places to Visit in Colorado
Bishop’s Castle located in the middle of San Isabel National Forest. Jim Bishop built the castle by himself for over 60 years. The castle is fun to explore and always open. On weekends the dragon breaths fire.
About an hour east of Colorado Springs is the paint mines. The Paint Mines are named after the colorful clays that are collected by the Native Americans and used as paint. The colorful clay and strange-looking outcrops make the park a fun and interesting place to visit in colorado and explore.
In the middle of the San Luis Valley is Colorado Gators. Colorado Gators started as a fish farm in the geothermal water and the Gators were brought in to take care of the dead fish. Now it is a rescue for unwanted alligators, pythons, tortoises, iguanas and more. With the admission, you are allowed to pet and feed many reptiles and hold an alligator if you wish. At the Gator farm, you’ll see albino Gators and a retired movie star Gator. For an extra cost, you get to take an alligator wrestling class and catch an alligator without any restraint.
The UFO tower located in the San Luis Valley off of Highway 17 also known as the cosmic highway. In the year 2000, the Judi Meza line started a UFO Watchtower to watch the strange happenings in the valley. Since then there have been over 90 sightings from the tower. The UFO tower also has a garden where psychics said there are two vortexes to another dimension. People from all over the world leave objects in the garden to connect their energy to the vortexes. And the people guarding the vortex.
In the northern part of the San Luis Valley is a small town of Creston Colorado. With a population of about 137. What makes Crestone unique is its spiritual center which features a Roman Catholic Carmelite, a Buddhist Zen Center, seven Tibetan Buddhist centers, three Hindu centers and a couple of other new-age religious centers. This is in part because Maurice strong a multi-millionaire who granted a land he acquired from his corporations to spiritual centers. Others say it has to do with the energy in the valley. Native Americans considered the valley to be holy.
Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Colorado
The Crystal Mill
Near the town of Marble is the Crystal Mill. The Mill is located on the Crystal River off of Forest Service road 314. The mill was built in 1892 to produce pressurized air for the nearby silver mines. Due to its location on the river the mill has become a favorite for photographers.
Carved by the Arkansas River the Royal Gorge near Canon City is a magnificent beauty. If you like, you can raft through it or zipline over the gorge for different views.
Sand Dunes National Park
In the San Luis Valley is dunes, National Park. The Sight of these giant dunes up against a Sangre De Cristo mountain range is breathtaking.
Hanging Lake in Glenwood Colorado. Known for its lush waters fed straight from the natural spring above the falls and its location on the edge of the cliff makes for an amazing Place to Visit in Colorado.
The Maroon Bells, Colorado’s most photographed location. Know for its beauty and its danger. The bells are challenging peaks to summit. The mountainsides are steep and full of scree (loose rocks). But the views are amazing.
Waterfalls in Colorado
There are 81 named waterfalls in the state of Colorado. Here are some of Colorado’s most beautiful waterfalls.
Just south of Wolf Creek Pass is Treasure falls. The waterfall is named for the legend of hidden gold on the mountain from which the Falls flow. Only a 15-minute hike from the trailhead leads you to this one hundred and five-foot drop waterfall.
Nudged in between ranch country and the San Juans is the town of Ouray. Ouray is surrounded by steep mountains and has various waterfalls around the town. The one waterfall stands out.
Box canyon falls
The box canyon falls plunges 285 feet into a narrow core tight canyon. With walls overhanging the falls by over a hundred feet. You can view the waterfalls from down below by taking the narrow path along the edge of the cliff, or from up above on a bridge. Which goes straight into the wall of the canyon.
Located in the San Luis Valley near dunes national park is Zapata falls. The falls itself is located in the narrow canyon and requires forwarding a stream and climbing some rocks. But all the work is worth the awesome view. The falls drop a total of thirty feet and then flow from the narrow canyon walls. The stream flowing from the falls is a nice place to relax and cool down. From the trail, you can catch a beautiful view of dunes national park.
About 40 minutes north from the town a Rifle is Rifle Falls. Located in Rifle Falls State Park. Rifle Falls is an 80-foot triple waterfall. And it very easily accessed from the parking lot. You can view the waterfalls from below, from up above and near the waterfalls are many small limestone caves, which are fun to explore.
North Clear Creek Falls
Located in the Rio Grande National Forest is north Clear Creek Falls. The North Clear Creek river flows through North Clear Creek Park before dropping 92 feet into the gulch it created. The falls are easily accessed via an overlook from highway 194.
Bridal veil falls
Bridal veil falls, with a total drop of 365 feet. These Falls are impressive. Sitting on top of the falls is the hydroelectric powerhouse. This powerhouse generates 25% of electricity for the town of telluride. And houses one of the oldest AC generators still in operation. And can view bridal veil falls along with another waterfall from the town of telluride. Or you can drive straight up to the base of the waterfall.
This waterfall is not just one waterfall. But a series of waterfalls flowing along one River and then a stretch of a mile or two. The turquoise water flows through the red creek bed. And in the fall the Willows turn yellow making for fantastic views. These Falls and River have located 128 points to magnetic degrees from the town of sawtooth Colorado. At a distance of 17.9 65 miles.
South Clear Creek Falls
These unique Falls are a 20-minute ride from the town of Crede. Just off the highway on the way to Lake City.
Bear Creek Falls
Bear Creek Falls is a roadside, under the road Falls situated below the million-dollar highway near the town of Ouray.
These rolling falls are situated above Grand Lake. And are a short easy hike from the town of Grand Lake.
Just up cascade creek from Lake Granby, you will find cascade Falls. A large series of Falls coming down from the lakes above.
Most Breathtaking Canyons to Visit in Colorado
Colorado may be home to beautiful towering mountains. Colorado also has some pretty amazing canyons. Here are Colorado’s most breathtaking canyons.
The Glenwood Canyon
The Glenwood Canyon near Glenwood Springs Colorado. This 12.5 miles-long Canyon has walls that stretch upward of 1300 feet above the Colorado River. The Glenwood Canyon provided the route for the Taylor State Road in 1906.
The first route for automobiles through the Colorado Rockies. Today the canyon is the route of Interstate 70. And is considered the most scenic piece of interstate in the US. You can easily access the canyon by foot at 4 rest stops located in the canyon including a three-mile hike to the famous Hanging Lake. Besides hiking, you can enjoy the canyon by car, train, or raft.
Royal Gorge canyon
The Royal Gorge can in your Canon City. The canyon is six miles in length and 1,250 feet deep. At the base, it is 50 feet wide and 300 feet wide at the top. In 1929 the Royal Gorge Bridge was built across the canyon and was the highest bridge in the world until 2001.
The bridge is now a tourist park and destination. You can reach the rim of the canyon easily by Road and explore the bottom of the canyon by rail or raft. And if you want you can zipline across the canyon.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Black Canyon of the Gunnison national park. Named after the fact that some parts of the canyon only get 33 minutes of daylight per day. The black canyon is 48 miles long mm 722 feet deep and 40 feet in width at the base and 1,100 feet in width at the rim. Black canyon although not the deepest in the world is known for how narrow and deep the canyon is.
The steep walls are breathtaking and painted walls a favorite for visitors to view from the rim of the canyon. With a free permit from the national park, you were able to descend into the canyon through various routes. Usually about a two-hour trek down. The trails are marked on maintaining and hikers are required to find their way down and be physically fit. Those are the three most breathtaking canyons in Colorado.
Clear Creek Canyon
Some other great canyons would be the Clear Creek Canyon west of Golden Colorado. That follows highway 9 and is a great Canyon for rafting.
Another would be the Dolores Canyon in southwest Colorado. Along with a few canyons in western Colorado and no one would blame you if you went into Eastern Utah for some amazing canyons. All breathtaking and beautiful in their way.
The Best Swimming holes in Colorado
Devil’s Punch Bowl
Devil’s Punch Bowl near Aspen Colorado. Just off of Independence pass. It is this beautiful swimming hole. The swimming hole offers cliffs to jump off and beautiful green water to cool down in.
About an hour away from Colorado Springs is Paradise Cove. It is a short hike from the highway and is very popular. Nonetheless, it is very beautiful, there are many different levels of cliffs to jump off, it is a nice place to relax party cool down and chill.
Green Mountain Resivoir
In the Green Mountain Recover, there are a series of cliffs to jump off of. They range in different sizes for different skill levels. To get back on land, you just climb the cliff.
On the Colorado River, new Kremlin in Radium Springs. Many people floating down the rivers pull up here to rest and jump off the cliffs.
Hidden in a semi-desert climate and near Grand Junction are a series of pools called the potholes.
Best Alpine Lakes in Colorado
A series of five lakes located near the town of Breckenridge Colorado. These beautiful blue lakes are surrounded by steep Peaks, wildflowers and amazing views. Come prepared there are no facilities for miles to bring food and water. It is a little bit of a hike to get there, but the views are amazing especially with the waterfall and River on the way in.
Cataract Lake, north of Silverthorne is a beautiful lake great for fishing and a lot easier to get to. It is easily accessed by road, there’s virtually no hiking and there are restroom facilities at the lake.
These Lakes hidden around Montezuma are just wonderful. With very little people around you can have the whole lake to yourself. One lake, Chihuahua lake is located 9.2 magnetic degrees north of the town of Montezuma. The views surrounding the lakes are amazing.
Deep and un compahgre wilderness is the blue lakes. Surrounded by steep and colorful cliffs these lakes are great for fishing or just viewing.
One of my favorite lakes hidden in the San Juans. This Lake is bright blue from minerals in the water, its beauty is just amazing and its color seems almost unreal. The lake is surrounded by cliffs, waterfalls, and wildflowers. These lakes are located at a bearing of 46.1 magnetic degrees north of the town Rico Colorado at a distance of 14.784 miles. Nearby is another beautiful lake with amazing colors and an island in the middle.
The Best Towns in Colorado
This beautiful mountain town is located a little over an hour away from Denver. And has a beautiful Main Street. With shops art and food along with drinks from the Breck brewery and Breck distillery. Breck is also a popular ski destination and is surrounded by plenty of old ghost towns, alpine lakes, and 14ers.
A beautiful town on the western slope. There are plenty of activities around the small town. Here you have multiple hot springs, hanging lake, caves, rafting, an amusement park on top of a mountain, live vaudeville theater, and a beautiful Main Street full of restaurants and shops.
Estes Park is the busy gateway town to the Rocky Mountain National Park and full of fun activities for tourists including Main Street and the Stanley Hotel. The inspiration for the movie The Shining. Don’t forget you were also right next to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Telluride in southwestern Colorado. This beautiful old mining town far away from everything is surrounded by towering waterfalls, lakes, and mountains. Telluride is famous for its off-roading, views, festivals, skiing.
The Front Range not my favorite area, but a must-see for travelers. There’s always a lot to see and a lot going on. From the Flatirons and Pearl Street Mall of Boulder to the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. And in-between to the 16th Street Mall and many festivals in downtown Denver. And of course Red Rocks for concerts. There’s always something going on in the Front Range.
Crested Butte Town
Hidden in the slate River Valley, far from everything this old peaceful town was once a bustling mining and ranching town. And now a favorite for those that stumble upon it. The town has a colorful Main Street, many strange festivals the popular ski resort and is surrounded by beautiful lakes and mountains.
The Best Hidden Towns in Colorado
Lead Ville Colorado
This high mountain town is full of character. The town is the second highest town in America. They have an amazing Main Street with many of the original buildings from their mining days. They have some fun events like ski jarring and are surrounded by the highest mountains in Colorado. Elbert, colorado’s highest mountain can easily be seen from town.
This tiny town in Park County is not much to look at. But at ten thousand five hundred and seventy-eight feet it is the highest town in the USA. And is surrounded by many 14ers, trails, and old mines. Alma is located on the South Clark flat in central Colorado. The same location of the fictional town of South Park. From the cartoon show South Park. No visit to Alma would be complete without a stop at the famous Al-Mart or some food and drink from the South Park saloon.
This tiny town has some amazing scenery, rafting on Arkansas, some good eats, and is surrounded by ghost towns and hot springs. A great place to relax or try to hike some of the 14ers the town sits below.
This beautiful gem hidden on the edge of the San Juans range has some amazing views. It is a tiny town but most people come here to go off-roading or take in the amazing scenery.
This small town sits right on the edge of the Colorado Utah border. This is not what you expect from a Colorado town. It is surrounded by Red Rock and canyons. There’s not much to the town except for a very large and fancy resort. From town, you can explore the Dolores River, check out old buildings and take the long scenic route to Moab.
This town close to the New Mexico border sits just below Wolf Creek Pass. The town has large mountains to explore to the north, a high desert plateau to the south, and hot springs right in town. The hot springs are the main attraction here. There are some open to the public and some private resorts as well. Surrounding the town you’re likely to find some awesome views and hiking as well.
This town almost sits right in the canyon formed by Willow Creek. This tiny town is far from everything. But it has the largest pork in America and it is surrounded by huge old mines. The old mining district is a popular drive for visitors and was the filming location for the latest Lone Ranger movie. You also find amazing views in and around town.
Best Ghost Towns in Colorado
Above the town, to Creede on the Bachelor loop, you will find many old amazing buildings on the side of cliffs. This place is one of my favorites. The gulch above the town is awesome and check out and amazing in fall.
Above Lake City, you will find this old dam and buildings from the Henson and other mines that started Lake City.
Above Telluride, you will find the wonderful mines near Blue Lake and closer to town you’ll find Pandora mill with the now-closed underground tunnel that goes from Telluride to Red Mountain pass. Around Silverton, you’ll find many mines up cement creek. You will find remains including the gold King mine that polluted the Animas River, up arrestor creek. If I’m saying that right you’ll find the old Mayflower mine and the old mill which is still attached by the old cable car.
The mill is still intact and you can tour it for a small fee. Plus many more old mine ruins in the Silverton area.
There’s a lot of old mines above the town of Leadville. Up Evans, California, and Iowa Gulch to the east you’ll see many old mines ruins that you can explore, well most of it. Some of its private property.
Idaho Springs has a few nice old buildings and old mine tours in town. But you can also find some old mines on the road above town to Central City another nice ghost town area.
Montezuma has many old picturesque mines that you can explore up almost any Gulch above the town. Near the town of Alma, you can find small mines up Mosquito Gulch or above Montgomery reservoir.
Elmo near Buena Vista to locals is the most iconic looking ghost town in Colorado. There are still a few residents who upkeep the place and run the general store. Just above Aspen on Independence pass, you’ll find the ghost town of Independence, a neat little town close to the road easy to access and well-maintained buildings by the Aspen Historical Society.
Gilman Colorado, this town was abandoned in the 1980s after the EPA forced the shutdown of the mine and the shutdown of the town. For polluting the Eagle River heavily. The town is privately owned and illegal to visit.
The town is equipped with old labs, houses that are emptied, a bowling alley. It’s pretty neat to visit, not that I know because I’ve never been there. But that’s what people tell me. So, but trespassers will be prosecuted. If you do decide to visit this town.
Best 4X4 Routes in Colorado
St. John’s pass
This moderate pass goes from Montezuma to Breckenridge through a couple of ghost towns and high over the mountain ridges.
This road passes from Alma over the high mosquito range into Leadville Colorado. A fun easier drive would be from Leadville to Basalt via Hagerman pass.
From the million-dollar highway to Ophir. It is the easiest of the routes from the million dollar highway to the Telluride side of the mountains.
From the million-dollar highway straight into Telluride. This one-way pass is a little more difficult than Ophir.
Engineer pass will take you from Lake City Colorado to Silverton or the million-dollar highway depending on what route you take.
If I’m saying that right, start by Ouray in Yankee boy basin and goes into the town of Telluride.
3 Best Highway Drives in Colorado
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway, Beginning in Idaho Springs, and traveling 28 miles, with elevation gains of 7,000 feet to a total elevation of 14,130 feet. Almost to the top of Mount Evans. Making it the highest paved road in North America. For a good part of the way, the road has steep drop-offs and no guardrails on the side.
Independence pass going over the Continental Divide in between Aspen and the twin lakes. It is the highest paved pass in Colorado. There are beautiful views on the way up and at the very top there’s a nice lookout area, Again there are sections of this road that have steep drop-offs and no guardrails and at random times it just turns to a one-way Road. Also alongside the pass. There is a ghost town, a swimming hole many trailheads and a place to climb.
Starting an Ouray and ending in Durango the million dollar highway has million-dollar views. This amazing road going through the San Juans has some of the best views you’ll ever see. Off to the side of the road, there are many ghost towns, and waterfalls to look at.
The Most Unique Festivals in Colorado
Frozen dead guy days
Frozen dead guy days, located in Netherland celebrate one of the residents who was cryogenically frozen in a shed of dry ice. They celebrate the first full week of March every year with coffin races, a coffin parade, concerts, Polar Plunge, street performers, turkey bowling and street readings.
Skijoring in Leadville
Skijoring in Leadville involves racing down Main Street on skis behind a horse while hitting jumps and collecting rings hanging on the side of the course. This takes place usually in late winter. Ullr fest in Breckenridge gives tribute to the nors god of snow cooler complete with the parade world’s largest shot ski and the burning of skis as a sacrifice to Ullr for more snow.
Vinotok, crestted buttes Harvest Festival
Vinotok, crested buttes Harvest Festival seems more like a Burning Man. People frolic around elk street and medieval attire and later burn the grump as a way to rid the gripe between each other nature community and ourselves.
Burro Days in the fair play
Burro days in fair play celebrates the role of the burro in old mining days. The festival includes burro races, llama races, gold panning, dog races, a parade, outhouse races, local music art crafts, and food booths, a barbecue, pancake breakfast, barn dance, and a cowboy church. The burro races are original Colorado sport.
Best Food Festivals in Colorado
I travel around Colorado in search of the best food festivals this great state has to offer. I found food festivals celebrating anything from homegrown fresh produce to celebrating just good food.
Taste of Colorado
This festival held yearly on the grounds of the State Capitol has a lot to offer. Besides tons of vendors offering food from all over the world including fried alligator, Filipino food, barbecue Cajun and anything else you can think of the festival also has games and live concerts with some pretty good bands.
The mac and cheese festival at Copper Mountain
This festival is a favorite for the lovers of the Mac. Vendors compete for your taste buds in the competition for the best mac and cheese. You can get any kind of mac and cheese possible. My favorite would be the hatch green chili mac or barbecue pork mac. And I tried the balsamic onion truffle mac for something way different. They also have live music in one creepy mascot.
The palisade peach festival and palisade
Every year during the prime peach season the town of palisade has a peach festival in honor of their amazing peaches. They started with the parade where they hand out more than just candy. They hand out juicy peaches. From there people migrated to the festival ground next to the Colorado River where you will see how many ways you consume a peach.
You can have peach pie, peach salsa, ghost pepper or a bit milder, peach preserves and jams, peach margaritas, amazing pork tacos with peach salsa, peach bruised, peach wine and my favorite homemade peach cobbler with homemade peach ice cream made by the palisade United Methodist Church.
You can also learn about the history of the palisade, learn how to make peach cuisine by Colorado chefs and listen to some live music.
The Frisco barbecue challenge
This festival happens every Father’s Day weekend right on Main Street in Frisco Colorado. There are a ton of vendors competing for the best barbecue. You can find any type of barbecued pork or beef brisket or mac and cheese or bacon mac and cheese barbecue pork or one of my favorites the grilled cheese, pork sandwich or any type of rib and any type of sauce you can even think of.
So, if you like the barbecue this festival is the one to go to. Besides the barbecue, they also have live music, street performers and pig races the pig that loses will be barbecued. No, I’m just kidding.
Best Hot springs in Colorado
Near Buena Vista Colorado, sitting just below 2 14ers. These natural fed pools range from 70 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. You can soak in the old historic bathhouse or alongside the chalk Creek in these natural pools. A perfect place to wait out a snowstorm.
Near steamboat Colorado is a Colorado favorite, the pool averages at about 104 degrees and the location of the hot springs far from everything makes it a wonderful place to relax. After dark children are prohibited and clothing becomes optional. Pagosa hot springs in Pagosa holds the Guinness Book World Record for deepest hot springs. Its mainspring mother is about 1,002 feet deep. These wonderful Springs sit right on the San Juan River and an average temperature of 75 to 111 degrees.
Ouray Colorado has five hot spring pools in the town plus a town is a Beautiful Place to Visit in Colorado. Most hot springs are in the Box Canyon Falls area, but due to limited space, they pipe the hot water down into the town of Ouray.
Glenwood Hot Springs
Glenwood Hot Springs Resort in Glenwood Colorado. This historic bathhouse on the Hot Springs is over a hundred and thirty years old. And they boast the largest hot springs pool in the world. The resort also includes a waterslide and a deep pool for diving.