Colorado's four National Parks — Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of
the Gunnison — are home to some of the world's most wondrous and diverse scenery.
Stream fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park
LOOK AT EACH NATIONAL PARK IN COLORADO
As a tribute to the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains between Estes Park and Grand
Lake, this park encompasses the pure and natural beauty of the region. With high-mountain lakes and streams, peaks more than 14,000 feet, thick evergreen forests and thousands of acres of wildlife, this national
park conjures up what most people imagine when they think of the Rockies and finds its way onto most visitors’ travel itineraries. And with so much to see and do within its 415-square-mile boundaries there’s no wonder its popularity endures.
Convenient lodging is available in the picturesque gateway communities of Estes Park and Grand
Lake, or Rocky Mountain National Park camping is also popular.
You Can't Miss
Open from Memorial Day to late autumn, Trail Ridge
Road — topping out at 12,183 feet — is the highest continuous paved road in the United States. Get an unforgettable look at the top of the Rockies while taking this one-of-a-kind drive. Check out an itinerary
for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park.
Mesa Verde National Park, located in southwest Colorado near Cortez,
is home to some of the most unique Ancestral Puebloan dwellings in the world. Well-preserved and well-studied, these dwellings have been inspiring interest in this ancient culture for more than 100 years.
Tucked securely into cliff walls, the adobe-constructed homes are a novel sight to visitors who crane their necks skyward to see them. On Mesa Verde tours, ladders give guided groups access to the cliff dwellings, and park
rangers offer glimpses into the daily lives of Ancestral Puebloans.
What You Can't Miss
walking tour of Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling and home to multiple living enclaves and buildings. You can expect to do a bit of mild climbing and walking, as the route first descends roughly 100 feet over uneven steps and ascends a series of
eight-foot ladders to access and exit the site. Read a Mesa Verde National Park itinerary.
else in the United States do mountains of sand stand higher than in the Rocky Mountains at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. The tallest dune towers 750 feet high at an elevation of 8,700 feet above sea level. The entire dune field itself, located
near the town of Alamosa, encompasses 30 square miles within the 150,000-acre park.
Aside from the dunes,
you'll find abundant hiking opportunities, as well as a four-wheel-driving trail along the challenging Medano Pass — an off-road route that stretches roughly 25 miles from within the park to the town of Gardner.
What You Can't Miss
Regardless of the season, park visitors on skis, snowboards and sleds carve their way down the dunes much
like they would on the famous Colorado ski slopes. If you want to give it a try, just look for the steepest part of any dune, point yourself down
it, and let gravity work its magic. Read 2 Days in the San Luis Valley & Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Sheer black walls plummet up to 2,700 feet on this 53-mile stretch of narrow gorge near Montrose, which reveal millions of years of natural history. Since
its documented European discovery in the 1700s, the gorge has been renowned for its dramatic scenery and recreational opportunities.
Not to mention its history: The Denver
and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad once traversed the mouth of this fissure that plunges into the Rockies. Today, the train is paid homage by an informative railroad museum and ranger talks throughout the park.
What You Can't Miss
This national park provides an array of outdoor activities, which means there is truly something for everyone.
Auto touring, wildlife viewing, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and stargazing ... they're just the beginning of your many options. Check out a 3-day
itinerary for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park area.
is also home to eight National Monuments and three National
Check out Magic Moments on Colorado's
Public Lands, Winter Activities in Colorado's State & National Parks and Fun
Facts about Colorado's National Parks.
Black Canyon photo courtesy
of the National Park Service/Lisa Lynch; Great Sand Dunes photo courtesy of the National Park Service.