There is no shortage of places to visit and things to do in Colorado. Dramatic wilderness and diverse terrain backed by the iconic Rocky Mountains are a staple of the Colorado image. Colorado’s namesake continues its blazing display of color beyond the towering snow capped peaks and mirrored lakes to lesser known destinations. Whether it’s adrenaline packed adventure or relaxing picturesque retreats that tickles your fancy, a Southern Colorado vacation rental will reveal unexpected wonders.
A Trail of Highlights and Things to do in Southern Colorado
On highway 160 across Southern Colorado there is a contrast of landscape and life that rarely comes together so imposingly without any arduous distances between them. This scenic stretch is so gorgeous and repleted with extraordinary destination stops, it was even immortalized by singer and activist C. W. McCall in his country song ‘Wolf Creek Pass’.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park
One of the most unusual and unexpected places to visit in Colorado is the Great Sand Dunes National Park near Alamosa. The region is already a smorgasbord of earthly transition as the mighty Rockies end abruptly, creating a natural wall for sand and soil traveling in the wind. The result, the tallest sand dunes in North America.
Explore the trails around the dunes at leisure or take a more strenuous hike across the stream and battle the will to quit climbing as every step sinks into the sand before reaching the top. For the more adventurous types, carve your own luck downhill on a sandboard.
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Descending into the town of Pagosa Spring in Southern Colorado is indisputably exhibitionistic. It is one of the most swanky and flamboyant ‘downtowns’ I have ever witnessed. But instead of pretentiousness, there is a sense relaxed luxury, natural unwinding and perhaps a hint of sulphur in the air. Centered around the ‘Mother Spring’, the world deepest geothermal hot spring, Pagosa Springs is the luxury retreat destination for those in the know.
If the resorts and spas aren’t enough to refresh your spirit, the entire town is surrounded by the San Juan National Forest, excellent for hiking, fishing, hunting and getting in touch with nature.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Human history is literally carved into the walls of this National Park and World Heritage Site. Mesa Verde is best known for it’s hundreds of well preserved cliff dwellings, highly educational visitor’s center and guided tours. I highly recommend selecting at least one or two of the tours to learn the extensive history of the land. Following that, I discovered the hiking trails of Mesa Verde. The views from these short but steep hikes are unbelievably rewarding. It’s especially unique to be hundreds of meters, directly vertical above the flattened valley below thanks to these massive table-like formations. It is like being on the rooftop of a 100 story skyscraper overlooking leagues of miniature homes as far as the eye can see.
Southern Colorado’s cosmopolitan center is a 5 star base for arts, culture, nature and quality of life. Experience the Old West in style aboard the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Coal-fired and steam powered, this locomotive has been cutting through breathtaking canyons since 1882. Check out the modern addition with all its extravagance, the glass-paneled rooftop car, Knight Sky.
Combine your experience with heart pounding events and activities no matter the season. Durango is home to world class skiing, mountain biking, fly fishing and rafting.
These are my highlights of Southern Colorado as personally experienced and selected while on a 6 month journey across the United States of America and back. I love passing on my thoughts and advice so you too can make the most of your Colorado vacation.
Have you ever visited these places? Have any other recommendations? Please comment below and share your best travel tips on places to visit and things to in Colorado.
~ Karina ~
Tweet me @Wisdom_Trails