The Rockies are undoubtedly one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in North America. From mountain tops to hot springs to breath-taking waterscapes, The Rocky Mountains never disappoint when it comes to alluring and unique settings. Check out our list (in no particular order) of must-see spots to find your next adventure!
- Crystal Mill. Also known as the Sheep Mountain Powerhouse or Old Mill. Professional and amateur photographers will love this abandoned, postcard-perfect spot located between the towns of Glenwood Springs and Aspen. A National Registered Historic Landmark, Crystal Mill is only accessible in the summer and fall by 4WD, by foot, or by horseback. It’s not an easy journey, but once you arrive, you’ll have a hard time deciding on what to photograph between the river, the mill, and the landscape surrounding it. If you’re planning a trip to Crystal Mill, make it a stop-off destination. You won’t be able to swim or camp in the unique, stunning setting.
- Hanging Lake. If you’ve been through the area on a road trip or have lived in Colorado, chances are you’ve heard of Hanging Lake. One of the most popular hiking spots in the state, Hanging Lake is located Glenwood Canyon east of the town of Glenwood Springs and right across from Bridal Veil Falls. Formed by Travertine deposition, there is no swimming or human contact allowed in the lake due to its fragile composition. If you’re up for a challenging hike to the lake rewarded by the beauty of this National Natural Landmark, you won’t be disappointed. Pull out your picnic staples or just enjoy the natural scenery.
- Garden of the Gods. It might be hard to live up to a name such as this, but this National Landmark (and public park) located in Colorado Springs, Colorado won’t let you down when it comes to mind-blowing views. Avid rock climber? You’ll find the sandstone and precariously upheaved limestone a challenge, but only with the required permit. Several fatalities have occurred due to weather and lack of proper equipment. The park is also wheelchair accessible, open to hiking as well as horseback riding. There’s a visitor and nature center as well, and if you don’t feel like walking through the park, the winding roads that weave throughout the park are perfect for viewing through your car window. The park is open year round with longer hours in the summer. Stop off on your way to Pikes Peak or the nearby historic town of Manitou Springs.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park. There’s no shortage of mountains to climb or lakes to explore in the Rockies, but what about a whole different landscape? Explore the tallest dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park located right outside the Rio Grande National Forest as well as the San Isabel National Forest. Whether you’re stopping off for a quick camping trip on your way through the state, there’s plenty to do including camping, sand sledding, hunting, fishing, swimming in Medano Creek, hiking, and backpacking. Because of the varying activities depending on weather, the park is open year-round, though not all activities are available depending on the season. Kid-friendly, wheel-chair accessible activities, as well as pet-friendly, there’s a lot to choose from including taking in the sublime scenery.
- Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. This content isn’t just about camping and hiking. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park are for families as well as all adrenaline junkies. Boasting “America’s Highest Suspension Bridge and Zipline,” this isn’t for those who don’t like heights. There are plenty of other activities to enjoy other than the bridge itself, including a theater, children’s playland, a waterclock, and photo lookout areas. For those who like to push their fright tolerance, there’s a zip line, a skycoaster, and aerial gondolas to experience. Located in Canon City and just two hours outside of Denver, the park is open year round but at the mercy of the weather, which in Colorado, can be unpredictable. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and layer up, this bridge and park are sure to satisfy your curiosity and need for adventure.
Whether you’re searching for a unique camping spot, photography opportunities, or need to fulfill an adrenaline ache, the variety of locations found in The Rocky Mountains will be sure to attract adventurers, families, and thrill-seekers alike. With so much to discover and learn about this vast mountain range and all it has to offer, you won’t find just one activity to quench your thirst for adventure.