The Centennial State is one of the best year-round travel and outdoor leisure destinations in the USA.
No matter when you visit, there will always be plenty of fun things to do in Colorado. From snow-capped peaks dusted with perfect powder to pristine hiking trails and stunning lakes and rivers, you could spend a lifetime here and not get bored.
In this post, I’m going to cover 10 of the best outdoor Colorado activities, including a few that you may not have thought of during your trip planning. Let’s get started.
Things To Do in Colorado In The Summer
Let’s start with the best things to do in Colorado in summer (or the warmer months of the year).
While visitors come here throughout the year, summer is still the peak season for travel.
1. Go Fly Fishing
What did I say about listing unique experiences in the state?
The fly fishing in Colorado is world-class, and despite its popularity among anglers, there are so many great spots throughout the state that you can still have entire stretches of river all to yourself.
Blessed with river canyons and lakes filled with beautiful rainbow, brown and brook trout, people travel from all over the world to experience the fly fishing here.
There are quite a few fly fishing outfitters and guides around the state, with many of them leaving from Denver, so even if you don’t have your own fly rod, or you’ve never tried your hand at fly fishing, there will be someone to guide you and show you the ropes.
Some of the best spots for fishing in Colorado include the South Platte River, Arkansas River, and North Delaney Butte Lake. And check out this half-day fly fishing trip in Estes Park.
If you’re planning to visit Colorado for fishing, make sure to pack a good pair of waders with you as well as there are quite a few wider rivers and they’ll help you to get access to the fish that are holding in deeper pools.
2. Go ATVing
There are so many breathtaking trails and mountain paths in Colorado that it’s no surprise these are frequented by adrenaline-pumping ATV tours.
Quite the opposite of the peaceful act of casting a line over glass-calm water, ripping up and down dusty river canyons and over massive boulders will get your adrenaline pumping and give you a good balance of outdoor activities on your trip to the state.
You can join a tour, or rent an ATV for yourself and head out solo.
Some of the best places in Colorado (where there are a lot of ATV outfitters) include Salida, Estes Park, Oray, and Lake City.
3. Join a Marijuana Tour
There was once a time when this bushy green plant was reserved to dimly lit basements and secret mountain grow operations.
But today it’s a booming business in tourism, entertainment, and most importantly, medicine.
Join a tour and check out a massive grow operation, sample some of the plants (if you wish), and have a truly unique experience that will give double meaning to Colorado’s popular moniker “the highest state”.
4. Hit the Colorado Hiking Trails
Okay, let’s get a back down to earth with a more common activity.
While this may be a bit more “normal” than ATVing and touring marijuana factories, the hiking in Colorado is just as exhilarating.
There are countless trekking routes, multi-day hikes and quick day walks throughout the state. You could spend a lifetime walking the trails here and never see them all.
Some of the most popular Colorado day hikes include the Highline Loop in Dolores, the Keyhole Route at Longs Peak, and The Black Canyon of Gunnison.
If you want to head out on a multi-day excursion, consider the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, or the Lost Creek Wilderness Loop.
5. Soak in Hot Springs
Whether you spent the day fly fishing, ATVing or hiking, you’ll probably be looking for a place to relax at the end of a long day of exploration.
There is no better place to unwind than in a Colorado hot spring.
There are loads of geothermic baths throughout the state, but my favorites are always the ones that look as natural as possible, with real stones, stunning views, and bubbling water.
The best hot springs include Conundrum in Aspen, Ouray, the Pagosa Springs in Piedra River and the Yampah Vapor Caves at Glenwood Springs.
6. White Water Rafting
This is still one of my favorite outdoor Colorado activities.
I love that you can be slowly cruising on slow-moving water one minute, and then blasting over rapids the next. Colorado is easily one of the best places in the world for white water rafting.
There are so many places to visit in Colorado offering varieties of rapids throughout the state and with the dramatic views of river canyon walls towering above you while you crash and tumble over the fast-moving water.
It’s hard to beat white water rafting here if you’re looking for a rush.
For some of the best rapids, check out Animas River Whitewater Rafting near Durango, Arkansas River Whitewater Rafting running through Buena Vista, Salida and Cañon City.
Or the Browns Canyon National Monument, or Clear Creek Whitewater Rafting rapids near Idaho Springs.
Things To Do in Colorado In The Winter
Now that we’ve listed a few of the top things to do in Colorado during summer, it’s time to flip to the winter months, when the Colorado mountains come alive and turns into a winter wonderland.
7. Hit The Slopes
Even though I snowboarded a lot when I was younger, I’m still not good enough for many of the black diamond slopes in Colorado.
But that’s the joy of hitting the Colorado mountains here, there is a run for all levels.
The Colorado ski resorts are as varied as the difficulty level of the slopes, with some luxury top-end options, as well as more budget-friendly ones.
If you’re a beginner or need to brush up on your skills, almost all of the resorts have professional guides to help you out as well.
You can start on the bunny hills and slowly move your way up, or if you’re already a pro, you can hit the powdery black diamond runs right away.
If you’re looking for a ski-in, ski-out experience, the 10th Mountain Division Huts and Moving Mountains were listed as some of the best in the world by The Travel Channel.
Other honorable mentions for the best ski resorts include Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vial, Snowmass, and of course Aspen.
8. Hop on a Snowmobile
If you’ve never experienced the rush of gliding over powder snow at 50 miles per hour, then you really have to try snowmobiling.
Coming from Canada, this is something we did a lot in the winter, but I’ve still yet to experience it in Colorado.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not a great place for it. If you have experience, there are a few outfitters that will allow you to rent a snowmobile and head out on your own, otherwise, you can join part of a tour.
Some popular spots include Salida, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Almont, and Keystone.
9. Go Snow Tubing
Another favorite pastime of mine from my childhood in the mountains of Canada, snow tubing is one of the best things to do in Colorado with kids.
Just like the ski slopes, there are easy bunny slopes, as well as some steeper and faster-moving hills.
Generally, when you go snow tubing, you pay for a day pass and you can use the lifts to go up and down as many times as you want. It’s exhausting and your butt might hurt by the end, but it’s so much fun.
Some popular places in Colorado for snow tubing include Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Fraser, Frisco, Keystone, and Aspen.
10. Ice Fishing
We’ve already listed fly fishing as one of the best things to do in Colorado in spring, summer, and fall, but if you’re a true angler you really can’t get enough of the sport.
Ice fishing may not be as exhilarating (or as warm) as fly fishing, but it’s still a lot of fun and it’s a popular activity here.
I wanted to list a few things on this list that you may not have thought of when planning a trip to Colorado, and I think we’ve achieved that now.
Ice fishing is a unique experience to have where you really feel like a local.
The sport is big here. There are plenty of ice fishing tournaments that happen in Colorado and there are lots of lakes where you can try your hand on the rod and auger.
Evergreen Lake, Georgetown, and Kremmling’s Wolford Reservoir are popular spots to drill a hole and drop a line.
I hope this post gave you a good idea of some unique things to do in Colorado, as well as some more common things and the best places to enjoy each.
The highest state really lives up to its name in many ways and is still one of the premier outdoor destinations in the USA.
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple or as a family, there will be something to suit everyone in Colorado. Strap on the hiking boots, pack a fishing rod, bring your snow gear, and enjoy the outdoors!