Home to the majestic Rocky Mountains, several national parks, breathtaking landscapes, scenic drives such as the Million Dollar Highway, numerous natural hot springs and diverse wildlife, Colorado is an excellent destination for nature lovers. Here is one way nature lovers can sample what Colorado has to offer in a 10 day trip.
- RMNP(Rocky Mountain National Park( is one of the highest national parks in United States and one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations.
- The 30-mile-long Continental Divide Trail runs right through the middle of the RMNP park, splitting it into its Eastern and Western sections.
- Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in United States reaching its highest point at 12,183 ft.
- Colorado Springs has over 300 days of sunshine and blue skies annually.
- To enter RMNP, you need Timed Entry reservation or service reservation in addition to park pass or entrance fee. For more detail, visit the official nps site.
- Carry sun protection, plenty of water and other hiking essentials. Stay on designated trails and do not feed or approach wild animals.
- Offline topological maps will be helpful as cellular connection in RMNP might be spotty.
- Best time to spot wildlife is early in the morning or in the evening.
- Keep an eye for altitude sickness specially when visiting trail ridge road and pikes peak.
- Renting a car is recommended for this itinerary as it provides flexibility and convenience in reaching the various destinations. Ensure your vehicle is suitable for mountain driving if you plan to visit high-altitude areas.
- Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable, especially in the mountains. Pack layers and be prepared for changes in temperature, even during the summer months. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before setting out each day.
- Make advance reservations for accommodations, especially during peak travel seasons. Also, consider making reservations for activities like whitewater rafting or guided tours to ensure availability.
- Be aware of the regulations and guidelines in national parks and other protected areas. Follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out your trash, respecting wildlife, and staying on designated trails.
Recommended daily itinerary
- Fly into Denver International Airport.
- Check in to The Crawford Hotel. Located inside Denver’s Union Station this hotel offers unique and stylish accommodations.
- Spend the day exploring the city, visiting attractions like the Denver Botanic Gardens or the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
- Start early and drive to Colorado Springs (about 1.5 hours from Denver).
- Check in to The Lodge at Garden of the Gods Club. This hotel offers comfortable rooms and easy access to the Garden of the Gods Park.
- Spend the day at Garden of the Gods, exploring the stunning rock formations and hiking trails.
- Enjoy a scenic drive through the park and visit the nearby Manitou Springs for dinner.
- Drive southwest to Salida (about 2.5 hours from Colorado Springs).
- Check in to Amigo Motor Lodge. A retro-style motel with cozy rooms and a laid-back atmosphere.
- Explore downtown Salida and enjoy the charming shops, galleries, and restaurants.
- Go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, known for its thrilling rapids.
- If you have energy left for the day, consider taking a scenic hike in the nearby San Isabel National Forest.
- Depart Salida and head north to Boulder (about 3.5 hours from Salida).
- Upon arrival, explore the vibrant downtown area, Pearl Street Mall, and visit the unique shops and eateries.
- Head over to Chautauqua Park to enjoy views of the iconic Flatirons and relax for an hour or two. If you feel like stretching your legs, you can hike up to the first and second flatiron.
- Spend the morning exploring more of Boulder, perhaps by renting a bike or going on a scenic drive up Flagstaff Mountain.
- In the afternoon, drive to Estes Park (about 1.5 hours from Boulder), the gateway to RMNP.
- Check in to The Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park, a modern hotel located near the entrance of RMNP, featuring spacious rooms and convenient amenities.
- Explore nearby, and buy supplies you need for the next two days exploring RMNP.
- Spend the entire day in Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Take a scenic drive along Trail Ridge Road, stopping at various viewpoints and hiking trails.
- Hike the iconic trails based on your fitness level and schedule. Some of the popular trails are Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Sky Pond.
- Continue exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, focusing on areas you haven’t visited yet.
- Drive to the town of Grand Lake, located on the western side of the park.
- Enjoy a relaxing evening by the lake and consider renting a kayak or paddleboard.
- Stay overnight at Grand Lake Lodge, a rustic lodge offering cabin-style accommodations and panoramic views of Grand Lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Depart Grand Lake and drive back to Denver (about 2 hours).
- Arrive in Denver and check in to The Maven Hotel, a trendy boutique hotel in the vibrant Dairy Block neighborhood, known for its modern design and proximity to attractions.
- Spend the rest of the day exploring nearby attractions or indulging in the city’s culinary scene.
- Take a day trip to nearby destinations like Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, known for its breathtaking views and hiking trails.
- Alternatively, visit Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s “Fourteeners,” offering scenic drives and hiking opportunities.
- Depending on your departure time, you may have a few hours to enjoy Denver.
- Visit any remaining attractions or simply relax before heading to the airport for your flight home.