Colorado’s landscape is the ideal canvas for outdoor recreation. With its ballyhooed 300 annual days of sunshine, the state is famous for both its winter spots and warm-weather adventuring. Whether taking in mountain vistas, delving into geological history, or relaxing in creek-side hot springs, there are countless ways in which to enjoy the state’s diverse natural offerings. Tailored below are our top choices.
Hiking Trails in Boulder
With over 230 kilometres of trails to explore, Boulder’s mountain parks are the backyard we all wish we had. At the southern end of Green Mountain, the Chautauqua Trailhead provides trekkers of every level an accessible starting point to the five iconic Flatiron rock formations. A meadow of rolling grass greets visitors before splitting off into a variety of trail options. The gentle slope of Bluebell Road traverses the perimeter of the meadow, while a jaunt into the valley of McClintock Upper offers a clear view of the first and second Flatirons. Those seeking a challenge can tackle the Ski Jump path and meander in and out of the forested area along the Bluebell-Baird Trail. Be sure to pause every so often to observe stunning sights in every direction: from the colossal mountains in the west, down past the red tile roofs of University of Colorado’s Boulder campus, to the sweeping grasslands in the east.
Exploring Caves in Manitou Springs
In addition to the above-ground trails, Colorado’s Pikes Peak region features a series of winding paths within its mountains, known as Cave of the Winds. First discovered by an early settler in 1869, the caves were excavated in 1881 by a stonecutter named George Washington Snider, who proceeded to lead tours of suited men and hoop-skirted women on their hands and knees through the narrow caverns. Fortunately for current day visitors, the site has since been developed for far more comfortable exploration. More adventurous spelunkers can take the Lantern Tour, during which guests illuminate their own ways with handheld lanterns similar to those used in 1881. (An alternate, pre-lit path provides more comfort for those afraid of the dark). Each area has been given a playful name; the Bridal Chamber, for instance, contains natural, cathedral-like formations, and the Temple of Silence displays a myriad of stalactites and stalagmites.
Horseback Riding in Nathrop
In the small town of Nathrop one will find the Mount Princeton Riding Stables, cradled by Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks. The staff at the stables is made up of long-time wranglers—one of whom claims he began riding before he could run—but whether you’ve grown up on horseback or have not seen a saddle in decades, a fitting partner awaits. Rides range from one hour to overnight: one day-long excursion involves a trek to Brown’s Lake with the reward of the spectacular waterfall, while a sunset option provides an end-of-day wind down. Nathrop’s scenery is diverse; in as little as an hour, riders can trot across flat lands, down along a stream, and through a delightfully eerie grove of ivy-covered pinyon trees.
Hot Springs in Nathrop
Two worlds coalesce at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs, where man-made pools flow with natural hot spring water. Begin the day with water-based fitness classes typically reserved for land; Aqua Zumba presents a low-impact method of morning invigoration, while yoga, movement, and cardio classes are available on alternating days. Indulge in a post-activity smoothie or fresh juice from the spa bar before testing the resort’s true claim to fame with a leisurely soak. Pool temperatures range from 37 to 40 degrees Celsius—strategically chosen for each pool—and with the steam rising into the crisp mountain air, the process proves refreshing whether recharging at the Relaxation Pool or the Japanese-style cascading springs tucked off to the side. Down by the creek, 20 individual-sized nooks lie in wait among the stones. The discreet nests are fed by their own geothermal hot springs, each varying in temperature to create a unique therapeutic experience. Those who linger into the night will be treated to the benefit of the rurality: far from city lights, a dazzling spectacle of stars stretches across the sky with only the distant rushing creek acting as white noise. Lie back, bubble away, and enjoy the outdoors in a signature Colorado fashion.
You know what to do in Colorado—discover where to stay.