The towering, snow-capped Rocky Mountains pervade the landscape in Colorado, and are the main draw for travelers to this Western state. In Colorado Springs, Pike's Peak has dominated family vacation itineraries since 1915, while the rugged bike paths around Boulder offer an amped-up mountain experience. Colorado's finest national parks and wilderness areas preserve the Rockies' rich geography and wildlife. You can't escape the beauty of the Rockies, nor should you: even in cosmopolitan Denver, a weekend in the mountains is only a short drive away.
Denver's state capitol, with its gilded dome, recalls its past as the destination of choice for hopeful gold-seekers. Modern travelers are drawn to Denver by artistic treasures -- the Western masterpieces of Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and Georgia O'Keeffe. Colorado Springs retains the feel of a Western town, home to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy, while Boulder draws mountain bikers and skiers to its location at the gateway to the Rockies.
The majestic Rocky Mountains tempt travelers with scenic drives through narrow mountain passes and year-round outdoor pursuits. Charge downhill on some of the nation's finest mountain biking trails outside Boulder. In winter, try snow skiing and snowboarding at resorts in family-friendly Steamboat Springs and affluent Aspen and Vail. Colorado Springs' favorite mountain-climbing (by car or by cog railway) is at Pikes Peak, while otherworldly rock formations make Garden of the Gods a popular stop for photographers.
Eating and Drinking
Dinner plates overflow with grilled steak and potatoes at restaurants across Colorado. In Denver, you're likely to find your steak served Oscar style, topped with crab and béarnaise sauce; in smaller towns such as Leadville, a simple, unadorned steak is meal enough. Towns located near the New Mexico border, such as Durango, serve spicy Tex-Mex cuisine with salsa verde. Pair your dishes with Colorado's Coors, brewed in Golden, or any one of its award-winning craft beers.
In a state known for its wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park is Colorado's most popular. Explore the park's snow-capped peaks: hike meadows of wildflowers, photograph crystal-clear mountain lakes and search for grazing moose. Mountains of sand, piled nearly 750 feet high, are what visitors find at Great Sand Dunes National Park, while Mesa Verde preserves 600 mountainside cliff dwellings occupied by native people some 1,000 years ago.