Home » Colorado Road Trip Itinerary: MUST-SE Stop + Where to Stay!

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary: MUST-SE Stop + Where to Stay!

These are the must-see stops on a Colorado road trip – including national parks, hiking trails, a red rock amphitheater and more!

Colorado has always been a place known for immaculate views and landscapes, making it a great state to drive through. The long winding roads, the national parks and the monuments, there really is no end to the list.

There is so much more to Colorado than what you can see on a one-year ski vacation. Consider a road trip to see all that it really has to offer. Because there are so many things to do and see, here is a list of absolute must-sees to plan when planning your trip!

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary

Denver

Known as the “Mile High City”, Denver is the capital of Colorado, so there is no doubt that there is a lot to see! The city is located 5280 feet above sea level and offers beautiful sights as well as many other unique restaurants and experiences.

While visiting Denver, I highly recommend making a stop in Boulder, Colorado, a 30 minute drive from Denver. Boulder has become a popular destination over the years as it is the perfect combination of city and outdoors.

Read more: Detailed Road Trip Package List (Must-Have Essentials!)

Red Rock Amphitheater

Red Rock Amphitheater is an open-air theater built into an incredible rock structure. It’s worth seeing even if you are not looking for live music. If there is a show in town, it may be worth checking it out as it is considered one of the most beautiful venues in the entire country.

The amphitheater is created naturally around the cliffs and you are greeted with views of downtown Denver as well as the surrounding hills and trails. If you’re not interested in music, it’s okay! There are hiking trails around the theater that make it worth the trip.

Read more: The ultimate package guide for travel photographers

Union Station

Union Station can be referred to as “Denver’s Living Room”. It is a 100-year-old landmark in the heart of Downtown Denver that houses the city’s best restaurants, bars and shopping. If you are not that much into all the outdoor adventures that Colorado has to offer, Union Station is a vibrant and trendy area to show you the more trendy side of Centennial State.

Read more: Safety tips to know for women traveling alone on a road trip

Colorado Springs

While the springs can be a great picturesque moment, be sure to include Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods in your visit to Colorado Springs.

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

The real gem at Pikes Peak is the view from the 14,000-foot-high summit, making it a popular destination for travelers. Due to its attractiveness, it is recommended to make a reservation for your trip to ensure easy parking and a hassle-free experience.

Pikes Peak actually inspired the song “America the Beautiful”, and if it does not speak to the pure grace of witnessing there – nothing else will.

Just a short drive from Pikes Peak you will find The Garden of the Gods.

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

Garden of the Gods Park is a national natural landmark filled with huge red sandstone rock formations, endless hiking trails and incomparable scenery. This park was named the best city park in the country as well as the second best in the world!

Read more: How to take great travel photos as a solo traveler

Glenwood Springs

Did you know that the largest mineral heat source in the world is located in Colorado? Glenwood Springs offers uninterrupted views, underground caves, hiking trails and the opportunity to relax and enjoy the warm, natural spring water.

Nature lovers should make a stop at Maroon Bells, about an hour’s drive from Glenwood Springs. With five paths to choose from – from easy to moderate – there are hiking opportunities for all types of travelers.

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

Telluride

This former mining town is full of picturesque waterfalls, hot springs, rock walls and even a gondola that can give you an even better view of the spectacular stop. There are many natural wonders that will leave you in awe.

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

In the winter months, this is a remarkably large ski community. Telluride Ski Resort is open year-round for travelers interested in exploring this Gold Rush territory more!

Be sure to stop at Bridal Veil Falls – at 365 ft it is known as the highest freefall waterfall in Colorado. While it is breathtaking to see in the warmer months, winter can be an exciting challenge for ice climbers!

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

Read more: Telluride, Colorado Travel Guide + Package Tips

Colorado National Monument

The Colorado National Monument sits on over 20,000 acres of unparalleled views and is full of nothing less than an amazing red rock! Within the last few years, the monument has grown in popularity and is visited by over 400,000 people annually.

The Serpents Trail, Red Canyon Overlook, Fallen Rock Overlook, Highland View Overlook, UTE Canyon and Grand View are just a few of the iconic trails one can walk down while visiting this amazing monument.

Read more: Tips for going on a road trip in the USA

Great Sand Dunes National Park

If the sand is more of your scene, be sure to stop by Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is known for 30 square miles of towering dunes including the highest dune in North America. The best thing about this park is that it is open day and night so you can stop by in peace!

Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

Black Canyon and Gunnison National Park

A hidden gem to add to your list is the Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park. This is one of the least visited parks in Colorado, so it’s a great escape from the crowds of the other parks. Black Canyon is deep, steep and incredibly dark. There are trails around the northern and southern edges of the park that give you plenty to see.

Read more: The ultimate packing list for campers

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the most iconic parks in Colorado has to be Rocky Mountain National Park. This park has a tranquil view of the mountains, forests, glistening lakes and alpine tundra.

With plenty to see and do, this is a highlight to add to your travel itinerary. It covers a total area of ​​265,461 acres, including 300 miles of hiking trails and wildlife, so spending more than one day here would be ideal for taking in all that it really has to offer.

Read more: Must-See stop on a Central Oregon Road Trip (+ Where to stay!)

Beautiful drive

Many times we focus on the destination, not the journey. The great part of a road trip is that you have so much time to enjoy what is around you. Sometimes it can be more beautiful to drive down the road than your last stop. There are so many ways you can drive through this serene state.

However; there are two roads you can be sure to take with you on your drive.

Trail Ridge Road is considered one of the most beautiful drives in America. It is a 48-mile highway throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to the area’s large amounts of snowfall, the road is typically open from late May to October.

The Million Dollar Highway is a 25-mile highway that used to be known as a kind of “rite of passage” for road trippers through Colorado. You have to go through Durango, Silverton and Ouray and climb 3 big mountains. Unlike Trail Ridge Road, the Million Dollar Highway is open year-round, though bad weather has been known to make driving sad.

With these striking views comes some risk. This roadway has no crash barriers, even with its dramatic falls and narrow turns. It requires your full attention, even though it’s so amazing that I’m sure it will not be a problem.

Read more: CA Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide (and Where to Stay!)

Colorado Packing Essentials

Winter equipment: If you decide to go for a drive through Colorado in the winter, you will want to take advantage of the ski culture. Be sure to bring a few snow pants, ski gogglesa hat, snow bootsand a couple strong mittens.

Summer equipment: Sunscreen, sunglassesa swimsuitand one broad-shouldered hatred want you ready for your summer in Colorado. Also remember to bring one let sweater or jacket as the nights can get chilly.

Hiking equipment: If you plan to spend time on the trails, one moisture wicking top, walking sticks, hiking shoesand hiking socks is absolutely crucial.

Plan your trip to Colorado
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Travel insurance: We never travel without one travel insurance for it is not worth the risk! We use and trust Nomads of the worldwhich we have been using for the last 8 years.

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Colorado Road Trip Itinerary (+ Where to Stay!)

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