Stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and plenty of adventure…you’ll find all this and more at the four Colorado National Parks: Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Choose Your Adventure at Rocky Mountain National Park
More than 3 million visitors head to Rocky Mountain National Park each year. This popular park offers more than 350 miles of trails for hikers of every level. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day backpacking adventure through the backcountry or a relaxing one-mile trek on the Tundra Communities Trail, this park has it all. A short hike takes you to the Holzwarth Historic Site, a former 1920’s dude ranch.
Take a relaxing scenic drive on winding Old Fall River Road, an original wagon trail, or venture onto Trail Ridge Road, where 48 miles of scenic overlooks pass from the lowland meadows to the alpine tundra, topping out at over 12,000 feet. View the abundant wildlife at roadside pullouts at Moraine Park and Horseshoe Park. You’ll likely spot bighorn sheep at the mineral licks, elk and marmots on the tundra, and perhaps a moose in the willow thickets along the Colorado River.
Experience Ancient History at Mesa Verde National Park
For a unique Colorado experience, visitors can explore ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. The park is home to more than 4,000 archeological sites. They date from 600 A.D. to 1300 A.D., including 600 cliff dwellings. Ranger-guided walking tours bring visitors through the adobe-constructed enclaves and buildings of Cliff Palace.
The park’s hiking trails pass ancient petroglyphs, prehistoric check dams, and mesa-top villages. Drive the Mesa Top Loop Road for a chance to view the cliffs from the rim. Browse the artifacts and dioramas at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. 267 campsites are available in a beautiful wooded canyon at the Morefield campground. Stargazers will appreciate that Mesa Verde has been designated an official International Dark Sky Park thanks to its low light pollution.
Surf the Sand at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Experience North America’s tallest sand dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve: the Star Dune rises 750 feet high in a 30 square mile dune field. Visitors can sandboard and sand sled this ocean of sand slopes. Plan your day carefully, as sand temperatures can reach as high as 150 degrees on a sunny summer afternoon! Enjoy rafting Medano Creek in the late spring and summer, horseback riding trails, and relaxing picnic areas. Forty-four campsites are available in the Pinon Flats Campground. Free backcountry permits allow tent pitching anywhere within the park’s boundaries. After dark, you’ll find that the park’s high elevation, dry air, and little light pollution are the perfect setting for a little star-gazing.
Dramatic Views at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The 47-mile Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park may be one of the lesser-known Colorado national parks, but its spectacular scenery is a must-see. Colorado’s deepest canyon, the Painted Wall, rises 2,250 feet above the Gunnison River. The inner canyon is a designated wilderness site without marked trails, best left for experienced hikers. But the canyon rims offer plenty of family-friendly trails like the one-mile Rim Rock Nature Trail. Scan the precipices on 12 scenic overlooks in the South Rim, including Gunnison Point, Painted Wall, and Sunset View.
A drive to the North Rim’s six overlooks offers incredible views of nearly vertical canyon walls. A drive down the steep, winding East Portal Road takes you to the Gunnison River and the Curecanti National Recreation Area. There, camping, picnicking, and fishing are available. More than 100 campsites in various locations include toilet facilities, picnic tables, and campfire rings.
Colorado National Parks have so much to offer and these parks just play a small role in what makes this state so special. Want to learn more about why Colorado is such a special place to live? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Denver Dyllan Real Estate . I’d love to hear from you!