Colorado may be best known for its deep powder snow, which makes for some of the best skiing and boarding in the world in the winter, but in the summer, you can enjoy a lot of beautiful scenery and a wide range of outdoor activities. When it comes to having the best mix of both, these Colorado towns may be the best.
Is it Worth Going to Colorado in the Summer?
Colorado is known for skiing, but the mountains are just as fun to discover in the summer, if not more so. Taking a summer vacation in Colorado will be full of epic experiences, like climbing to the top of a 14er, rock climbing in the canyons, mountain biking on Singletrack, fly fishing in a creek, and camping in the wilderness.
Where Do Most People Go in Colorado?
National Rocky Mountain Park
With about 4.5 million visitors, this is Colorado’s most popular national park and one of the most popular in the National Park Service as a whole.
Rocky Mountain National Park, or RMNP for short, covers both sides of the continental divide from Estes Park to Grand Lake.
The Best Places to Visit in Colorado in Summer
Even though there are a lot of great places to go in Colorado, you should skip the rest and go to these 10 best places instead. They offer the best summer vacations in the state.
Vail is one of the most popular ski resort towns in the world, but it’s also a great place to visit in the summer when you can mountain bike, hike, play golf, and ride river rapids. There are a lot of music and dance events this time of year, including the Bravo!
The Vail International Dance Festival and the Vail Jazz Festival are also part of the Vail Valley Music Festival. The New York Philharmonic plays at the outdoor Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater as part of the Vail Valley Music Festival.
2. The Town of Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs is another one of Colorado’s most popular places to ski and snowboard. During the colder months, it’s a winter wonderland, but in the summer, it’s a green scenery with bright wildflowers all over.
This is when this Wild West town really comes to life, with guests enjoying fly fishing, inner tube rides, and rafting trips on the Yampa River, as well as endless scenic hiking and mountain biking trails and natural hot springs that are great for soothing sore muscles afterward.
Telluride is one of the best places to go in Colorado because it is the perfect example of a mountain town. Its streets are lined with grand Victorian buildings, and it has become a center for explorers, athletes, and artists of all kinds.
It is tucked away in an isolated box canyon, far from the chaos of modern life. Even though there’s no skiing this time of year, people can still take the lift up the mountain to see the town and the beautiful scenery around it from above.
Getting to Ouray is a great adventure in and of itself, especially if you take the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton, which is a 25-mile stretch of US 550. Many of the road’s turns are right on the edge of sheer rocks, which makes for some of the most stunning views in the world.
Every time you turn a corner, you get a better look at the high, rocky peaks of the San Juan Mountains. This is a big reason why Ouray is often called the “Switzerland of America.” It’s a great place to soak in natural hot springs, watch streams, and even look for old mines.
This hilly town in the southwestern United States is perfect for people who want to do things on land and in the water. The Animas River runs right through Durango and is known as one of the best places in the state to kayak and raft.
If you go just a little bit uphill, you can be surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Rockies and hike in out-of-this-world alpine terrain. In the lowlands, there are over 1,000 miles of great mountain bike trails in the Durango area alone.
Dolores is a small town, but it’s a great place to spend some time. It’s in a beautiful canyon, with the Dolores River going through it on one side and rock cliffs on the other.
Here you can find the second biggest reservoir, McPhee Reservoir, and the San Juan National Forest, which is only a mile from town and has great fly fishing, hiking, and biking. The town has four parks, a brewery, and a unique mix of restaurants and shops, in addition to outdoor activities.
7. Lake Grand
Grand Lake is probably the best thing about the town of Grand Lake. You can go boating, sailing, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing on the lake. In early August, it even hosts Regatta Week.
This is also where you’ll find the biggest Fourth of July fireworks show in all of Colorado, as well as a lot of famous tourist spots like candy shops, old-time photo galleries and saloons, a variety of gift shops, and even mini-golf courses. Plus, it’s close to the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, so you’ll be just steps away from one of the most beautiful places with wildlife in the country.
8. Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte may be out of the way, but it’s one of the most beautiful mountain places in all of Colorado, so it’s worth the trip. The mood has some of the charm of an old mining town and some of the flair of a hippy town.
It’s famous for skiing because it’s at the base of the Rockies, but in the warmer months, it’s a great place to go hiking and mountain bike and the flowers are in full bloom. It also draws people because they can go whitewater rafting through the Taylor Canyon, which is an experience they will never forget.
9. Fort Collins, Colorado
Even though Fort Collins is only an hour north of Denver, it has a lot of fun things to do outside when you want to enjoy the sun. Horsetooth Mountain Open Space is a 2,711-acre park with 29 miles of bike, hiking, and horseback riding trails just west of Horsetooth Reservoir, which is a great place to paddle out in a canoe or kayak.
The park is only a few minutes from downtown. Mountain Whitewater offers whitewater rafting trips on the Cache La Poudre River, which runs right through downtown. The Farm at Lee Martinez Park is an educational zoo with animals to feed and cuddle, pony rides, hayrides, and other interactive adventures.
Keystone is the best place to play outside all year long. Families will find a lot to do to keep the kids (and themselves) happy, from Keystone Science School Day Camps and the summer snow tubing hill to stand-up paddle boarding and boating on the lake, miniature golf, GPS Geo-Cache Adventures, and dinner wagon rides.
Then there are events, like the Keystone Bacon and Bourbon Festival, the Bluegrass & Beer Festival, the River Run Art Festival, and the Mountain Town Music Festival.
No matter what time of year you go to Colorado, there are always new things to do and see. But summer in this state is a lot of fun because there are so many interesting events and chances to do a lot of different things.