The Front Range -- The state's three major cities -- Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs -- form a line along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains known as the Front Range. These cities are a blend of old and new, rustic and sophisticated, urban and rural. Founded in the mid-19th century by both East Coast gold-seekers and European and Asian immigrants in search of a better life, they became home to what we might call the more civilized pioneer -- the mine owner instead of the prospector, the merchant rather than the gambler.
Today Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs have virtually all the amenities you'd expect to find in major U.S. metropolises: opera, theater, dance, art, excellent restaurants, and sophisticated hotels and convention centers. You'll also find historic Victorian mansions, working steam trains, and old gold mines. You can go horseback riding, hiking, skiing, or shopping; or spend hours exploring museums, galleries, and shops.
Northeastern Colorado -- This region is quite different from the major cities and even more of a departure from the rugged mountain towns to the west. Northeastern Colorado contains the sparsely populated plains, a place where buffalo once roamed and pioneer farmers endured drought, dust, snow, and wind to create farms and ranches.
Here is the college town of Fort Collins, home of the large Anheuser-Busch brewery; the town of Loveland, known primarily for its name and Valentine card remailing; plus smaller communities such as Fort Morgan, the boyhood home of big band leader Glenn Miller. This region is dotted with pioneer homes and museums, frontier forts, and preserved downtown districts, plus a surprising number of lakes and seemingly endless fields of wheat and corn.
The Northern Rockies -- For many people, the northern Rockies epitomize Colorado. Here you'll find some of the West's most spectacular and inspiring scenery at Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as America's top ski resorts, including Vail and Aspen, playgrounds to many of Hollywood's beautiful people. But tucked away amid the ski slopes, overpriced boutiques, and towering peaks are delightful historic Old West towns such as Leadville and Steamboat Springs, where you can step back to a simpler, more rugged era. This region is ideal for year-round outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating, and four-wheeling.
The Western Slope -- This region more closely resembles the canyon country of Utah than Colorado's famed Rocky Mountains. The area is defined in large part by its rivers -- the Colorado, Gunnison, and Yampa -- which over tens of thousands of years have carved ruggedly beautiful canyons. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park encompasses an awe-inspiring narrow chasm, and colorful layers of rock define the canyon walls and unusual formations of the Colorado and Dinosaur national monuments. The latter also boasts one of the best dinosaur quarries you'll see anywhere. In addition, the western slope offers about a dozen wineries near the region's largest city, Grand Junction, and mineral hot springs and eye-opening caves in Glenwood Springs, where Old West gunfighter Doc Holliday is buried.
Southwestern Colorado -- Those curious about the prehistoric peoples who once populated the West should head to this part of the state, where Mesa Verde National Park and a number of other sites preserve ancient cliff dwellings and other archaeological sites that help explain what life was like here 1,000 years ago. Also in this region is the historic community of Durango, with its main street (ca. 1880) and narrow-gauge steam railroad. Another Old West town, Telluride, retains its historic charm while emerging as a major ski and summer resort. In addition, the San Juan Mountains rival the vistas in Colorado's northern Rockies.
The Southern Rockies -- An exciting mix of terrain and experiences awaits visitors to the southern Rockies, which contain 30 peaks soaring over 14,000 feet, as well as white-water rafting near Salida, the historic picturesque mining town of Creede, and the tallest sand dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve. This area also contains splendid boating and fishing at Curecanti National Recreation Area, plus skiing and mountain biking, and a historic narrow-gauge steam train at Antonito, south of Alamosa.
Southeastern Colorado -- History and a scenic stark beauty are the main draws of this region, which is best known for one of the world's most spectacular canyons -- the deep, narrow Royal Gorge, which is carved by the Arkansas River as it makes its way down from the Rocky Mountains to the plains. The sector's largest city, Pueblo, offers outdoor recreation, several good museums, and a fine zoo. Boating and fishing opportunities abound on two lakes -- Pueblo and Trinidad -- both operated as state parks; and Bent's Old Fort is a national historic site that has re-created one of the West's most important frontier trading posts. The towns of Trinidad and La Junta also have a number of historic attractions, and you'll find dinosaur tracks in the Comanche National Grassland.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.