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15 Best Things to Do in Colorado in 2022

15 Best Things to Do in Colorado in 2022

Colorado is a state synonymous with stunning natural beauty. The iconic landscape often encompasses snowcapped peaks, lush woodlands, and rushing rapids. 

If you are in Colorado and looking to explore some new activities, rest assured there are plenty of options at your disposal.

15 of the Best Things to Do in Colorado in 2022

While the state is an outdoor paradise, it has even more to offer. Planning the right events/activities relies on considering your own individual interests and the group you are traveling with.

Here is a look at 15 various things to do in Colorado with activities for all age groups and varying interests. 

1. Hike Rocky Mountain National Park

Beautiful evening in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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No trip to the Centennial State is complete with a trip to the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park, which ranks among the top tourist destinations in the country, drawing millions of visitors every year. 

The park features some stunning views that incorporate snow-capped peaks, lakes, wildlife, woodlands, and even tundra as you get higher up. With hundreds of miles of trails, no shortage of waterways, and guaranteed animal viewings, a trip to the National Park is an outdoor lovers’ paradise and ideal for both families and serious climbers.

As the park offers plenty of amenities and outdoor activities, you will want to carefully plan your trip ahead of time to avoid being overwhelmed by the list of options on arrival. As large sections of the park are pretty touristy year-round, booking your accommodations well in advance is also a good idea. 

Points of Interest

There is no shortage of exciting landmarks in Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are a few worthy of consideration: 

  • Trail Ridge Road (drive)
  • Bear Lake
  • Emerald Lake Trail
  • Longs Peak
  • Estes Park (nearby)
  • Alberta Falls
  • Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

2. Check Out Denver

Cool view of the blue bear in Denver, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Colorado is home to some excellent, culturally diverse cities. Among them include the largest urban population center, the city of Denver. Denver is home to countless attractions, including museums, sports arenas, outdoor parks, restaurants/breweries, and interesting neighborhoods. 

The city offers a little something for everyone. The downtown area is quite accessible by walking, but you can also jump on an electric scooter located at numerous hubs throughout downtown. There are also convenient commuter rails in/out of the city, making it easy to stop in for the day. 

If you are looking for the amenities of a big city, more likely than not, you will find it within Denver’s city limits. Denver hosts plenty of music concerts and sporting events if you are looking for fun events. There are also plenty of outdoor spaces making for great leisurely activities for all groups of people.

Points of Interest

There is plenty to see throughout the city. Activities should be considered based on the time you have and your group (couple, family, etc.). Here are a few ideas for popular attractions:

  • Denver Art Museum
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science
  • Larimer Square
  • RiNo Art District
  • Coors Field (baseball)
  • Empower Field (football)
  • Union Station

Read Next: Best Things to Do in Denver and  25 Best Hikes Near Denver in 2022

3. Explore Boulder

Cool view of downtown Boulder, one of the best things to do while in Colorado

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If you want the cultural amenities of a big city combined with small-town charm, take a trip roughly 30 miles northwest of Denver to scenic Boulder. The town features a vibrant art scene amongst a bustling main street area lined with an excellent assortment of restaurants, shops, and cafes. 

Boulder is home to the University of Colorado campus; as such, the town presents a younger/hip vibe throughout with plenty of nightlife. The town is very walkable, and there are several parks in town and easy access to nearby outdoors/hiking activities. 

With a much more open feel than Denver, a trip to Boulder is the best of both worlds, with plenty of arts/culture, street performances, and picnic/biking areas in town. If you are looking for a laidback vibe, scenic views, and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities, take a ride over to Boulder and scope it out for yourself.

Points of Interest

While much smaller than Denver, Boulder still boasts exceptional arts, shopping, and outdoor activities. Here are some places to consider exploring:

  • Pearl Street Mall
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Central Park
  • Boulder Farmers Market
  • Eldorado State Park (nearby)  

4. Head Over to Red Rocks

Red Rocks Ampitheatre, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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A trip to Red Rocks Amphitheater is an absolute must for any music lover, ranking as perhaps the country’s most iconic live music venue. The stunning panoramic views encompass expansive sandstone, creating an exceptional backdrop and excellent acoustics. 

There is no shortage of big-name acts to come through Red Rocks, including names such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, John Denver, and U2, just to name a few. If you are in the area, it is well worth looking up the list of upcoming shows to see if any names catch your eye. 

Even if you can’t make a show, a trip to the unique arena is worth the visit. You can drive up to a parking lot or make a day of it with hiking trails that lead up to the venue. There is a Red Rocks Hall of Fame that documents famous shows that have taken place over the years. There are also some fun walking trails with great views of the surrounding area. 

Points of Interest

Here are some of the best draws during your trip to Red Rocks:

  • Red Rocks Amphitheatre 
  • Red Rocks Music Hall of Fame
  • The Colorado Music Hall of Fame
  • Morrison Slide Trail
  • Trading Post Trail

5. Travel Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff palace at Mesa Verde National Park, one of the must-see attractions in Colorado

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Mesa Verde National Park brilliantly fuses gorgeous scenery with a dose of local history that will leave visitors intrigued. The park incorporates cliff dwellings and habitats that date back centuries providing a unique insight into the lives of ancient civilizations.

One particular state out includes the Cliff Palace, which has over 150 rooms that guests can explore via guided tours. 

For an excellent mix of scenery and history, a trip to Mesa Verde National Park with peak the curiosity of outdoor lovers and history buffs alike. It is also an excellent option for families to consider providing a fun day of exploration. 

Points of Interest:

  • Cliff Palace
  • Ancient Pueblo Structures
  • Guided Tours
  • Point Lookout Trail
  • Petroglyph Point Trail  

6. Visit Estes Park

Trail outside Estes Park, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Located right in the foothills of Rocky Mountain National Park at over 7,500 feet in elevation, Estes Park provides a fun slice of small-town Americana that makes for an excellent addition to any trip to the area.

The main street is lined with souvenir shops, bars, and restaurants making for a fun afternoon trip. Several accommodations in town and nearby make it an excellent base camp to explore the national park, with the Aerial Tramway providing a direct path to nearby peaks.

Points of Interest

Here are some things to look for while in Estes Park. 

  • Estes Park Aerial Tramway
  • Estes Park Museum
  • Lake Estes
  • Open Air Adventure Park

7. Explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Although relatively small in size compared with other nearby parks, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park provides visitors with some of the state’s best views, with stunning vertical drops and rock formations. 

Some of the best views are visible simply by driving through the park, although visitors also have the option to get out and explore at any point. Upon arrival, guests can choose to enter either the North Rim or South Rim, with each providing an assortment of nature trails, scenic outlooks, and visitor centers.

Points of Interest

  • Gunnison Point
  • Chasm View
  • Painted Wall

8. Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument trail, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Once again, while relatively smaller in scope than alternative outdoor activities, the Dinosaur National Monument provides a stunning natural landscape that will enthrall both adults and children. 

Dinosaurs once inhabited the site, and today the preserved fossils contribute to the Dinosaur National Monument with a scenic backdrop of rolling peaks and canyons. An on-site exhibition hall provides visitors with more information about what they are looking at and hiking trails that extend throughout the surrounding area.

Points of Interest

  • The Dinosaur National Monument
  • Quarry Exhibit Hall
  • Sound of Silence Trail
  • Fossil Discovery Trail

9. Plan a Day at the Colorado State Fair

Aerial view of the Colorado State Fair, one of Colorado's must-see things to do

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Suppose you are looking for a family-friendly event that doesn’t involve scaling a mountain or stepping out into the great outdoors. In that case, the Colorado State Fair offers plenty of fun, excitement, and activities the whole family is sure to enjoy. 

Located in Pueblo, CO, about 56 miles outside of Colorado Springs, the fair features an excellent assortment of rides, carnival games, live animals, and music. There are also featured events, including competitive eating, demolition derbies, and monster truck shows.

Points of Interest

  • Motorsports
  • Carnival rides
  • Animal shows
  • Fun competitions

10. Hike the Flatirons

Flatirons on the front range of Colorado, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Located just outside of Boulder, the Flatirons provide some of the state’s most unique and accessible nature trails. The Flatirons themselves are made of giant sandstone and can be summited via a variety of hiking trails suitable for climbers of varying experience

Popular routes include the McClintock Trail as well as the Enchanted Mesa. The views from the top are nothing short of stunning, providing excellent panoramic views of the entire region, and the close proximity to Boulder makes it ideal for mixing into other daily festivities. 

Points of Interest

  • McClintock Trail
  • Enchanted Mesa Trail
  • The First, Second, and Third Flatiron Trail
  • Chautauqua Trailhead

11. Cruise Down the Skyline Drive

Scenic Skyline Drive, one of the best things to do while in Colorado

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The Skyline Drive is a scenic and unique way to take in some compelling Colorado features for those who love a good road trip. The drive carries intriguing historical relevance, built by inmates in the early 1900s and designed for horse-drawn buggies. 

The scenic drive provides ideal vantage points of notable landmarks, including Royal Gorge, and a convenient stop-off at Canon City, one of Colorado’s most famous cities with rich cultural heritage and steeped in local history.  

Points of Interest 

  • Royal Gorge Route Railroad
  • Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
  • Royal Gorge
  • Canon City

12. Go White Water Rafting

Group of tourists white water rafting, one of the best things to do in Colorado

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Colorado is world-renowned for its rapids, making white water rafting something of a national pastime. This is an excellent activity for adrenaline junkies or those who enjoy boating in rough terrains or extreme outdoor sports in general.  

You can book many different types of rafting tours, including more beginner-friendly ones. Before partaking, you will want to consider your level of experience and any safety concerns you may have. As this sport can range to the more extreme, it is not recommended for children. 

Points of Interest

Some of the most popular destinations for Whitewater Rafting include:

  • Blue River
  • Eagle River
  • Gunnison River.
  • North Platte River
  • Rio Grande River

13. Sample the Local Breweries

Interior shot of a random brewery in Colorado, one of the must-visit attractions in Colorado

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While the state is often synonymous with being one of the first to legalize marijuana, it has also long been a beer-lovers paradise, predating the explosive growth of craft beer in other parts of the country. No matter where you are in the state, your odds of running across a delicious micro-brew pub are pretty high. 

Locations for breweries in Colorado can be located centrally in major cities and more obscure areas such as shopping outlets and corporate parks.

Points of Interest

Some of the most well-known local breweries include

  • Breckenridge 
  • New Belgium
  • Great Divide
  • Odell
  • Red Leg

14. Go Camping

One of the best things to do in Colorado, tent camping, featuring a person in a tent in a gorge between the mountains

Simoly/Shutterstock

Colorado was made for outdoor adventure. There is no shortage of peaks to the summit or woodland nature trails to explore, and there is no better way to truly immerse yourself in the great outdoors than with a camping trip. 

Colorado National Parks offer a vast range of campgrounds to suit your needs, including those that are more family-friendly and more remote options. Many parks are RV-friendly. 

Points of Interest

Some of the best campgrounds include:

  • Mueller State Park
  • Estes Park
  • Rainbow Lakes
  • Eleven Mile State Park
  • Lone Rock 

15. Hop Aboard the Durango & Silverton Railroad

Cool view of the Silverton Railroad, one of the best things to do in Colorado

Nick Fox/Shutterstock

Take a step back in time on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The ride offers incredible views of the surrounding area running alongside mountains, rivers, and old mining towns. It is one of the most visually stunning and unique ways to take in the region.

The train runs at around five hours round trip while offering guests around 45 minutes to explore the canyons. The trains run year-round with different tour packages. 

Points of Interest

  • Cascade Canyon
  • Animas River
  • Silverton
  • Durango

Things to Consider

Before making plans to visit any of the above locations, there are a few things you want to keep in mind in order to ensure your visit goes as smoothly as possible.

Remember that Colorado is massive in size encompassing over 104,000 square miles. If you are planning to drive to locations, be sure to map out each of your destinations to limit your time on the road. 

While Colorado is home to some of the best outdoor adventures in the nation, that may not suit everyone. Consider what type of vacation you are looking for. Are you looking to explore urban areas? Do you want to maximize your time in nature? 

Finally, if you are looking to keep costs down, there are plenty of excellent options on this list that are either free or of minimal cost. Rest assured that Colorado’s outdoor adventure offers excellent budget options if money is a concern.

Frequently Asked Questions

Denver skyline as viewed from Mile High Stadium, a must-see attraction in Colorado

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The following are some of the frequently asked questions about Colorado.

Why is Denver called the Mile-High City?

Denver earned its nickname as the “Mile High City due to the fact that it was built at an elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, which makes it approximately one mile in the air. The altitude is noticeable upon arrival and sometimes takes visitors a couple of days to adjust.

Why is Colorado called the Centennial State?

Colorado earned its nickname as the “Centennial State” because it officially was recognized as a state in 1876, precisely one hundred years after signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

What is the highest mountain in Colorado?

The highest summit in the state is Mount Albert which sits at 14.439 feet. It is also the second-highest mountain in the contiguous United States, behind only Mount Whitney in California.

Most of the highest peaks in the state are located in the famous Rocky Mountains, accessible via Rocky Mountain National Park.

How big is Rocky Mountain National Park?

Rocky Mountain is 415 square miles big, which is roughly 265,800 acres.

How many national parks are in Colorado?

There are four different national parks in Colorado. These include Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of Gunnison.

So, What Are the Best Things To Do in Colorado?

So there you have it — our favorite must-see Colorado attractions. Colorado is a region with endless potential. If you are planning a trip or looking just looking for something to do, options range from hiking to outdoor sports to exploring towns/cities.

As long as you are open to new adventures, there is no shortage of fun waiting for you within the Centennial State.