Yes, Colorado is a big state with a lot to offer, and I won't pretend that you can actually see and do everything here in only 2 weeks. But this somewhat rushed driving tour hits many of the highlights -- what you might call the best of the best. If nothing else, it will show you why Colorado is one of America's top vacation destinations.
Days 1 & 2: Denver and Boulder
Arrive in Denver, preferably in the late morning or early afternoon. Browse Larimer Square and the 16th Street Mall. The next morning, visit the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, and the state capitol. After lunch, take the short drive to Boulder; browse the Pearl Street Mall, where you might see a juggler or mime (or just a sleeping University of Colorado student); and settle in for the night.
Day 3: Estes Park
Take Canyon Boulevard (Colo. 119) west to Nederland, then follow the foothills north on Colo. 72 and Colo. 7 to Estes Park, where you can visit the Enos Mills Homestead Cabin, Estes Park Museum, and take in some spectacular panoramic views on a ride on the Estes Park Aerial Tramway.
Day 4: Rocky Mountain National Park
In the morning, enjoy spectacular Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, across the Continental Divide to Grand Lake. After lunch, proceed south on U.S. 40 to Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, and Georgetown.
Day 5: Leadville
I-70 and Colo. 91 will take you up to Leadville, Colorado's 2-mile-high city. See the historic district and National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, then continue across Independence Pass to the famed resort town of Aspen.
Day 6: Aspen
Give yourself a day in Aspen to shop, sightsee, hike, bike, or just enjoy the clean mountain air.
Day 7: Montrose
Drive to Montrose. The route follows the Roaring Fork River west to Carbondale, then south along scenic Colo. 133 over McClure Pass (elevation 8,755 ft.), and through the quaint historic village of Redstone. Try to complete the 140-mile drive by early afternoon, leaving time for a visit to the Ute Indian Museum and the wondrous deep, dark gorge at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Day 8: The Million Dollar Highway to Durango
It's 98 miles via the Million Dollar Highway, U.S. 550, to Durango. En route, between the memorable old mining towns of Ouray and Silverton, you'll cross spectacular Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Durango's historic district is one of Colorado's largest and best preserved.
Day 9: Mesa Verde National Park
Visit the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park, about 40 miles west of Durango.
Day 10: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Get an early start for the 150-mile drive across Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. 160 to Alamosa, and continue northeast to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve before returning to Alamosa for the night.
Day 11: Salida and Cañon City
Head north to the rafting capital of Salida, perhaps stopping for a dip in the hot springs pool, then head east on U.S. 50 to Cañon City. See the Royal Gorge, the re-created Old West town of Buckskin Joe, and the Territorial Prison Museum.
Days 12 & 13: Colorado Springs
Spend 2 full days seeing the attractions in Colorado Springs and nearby Manitou Springs. Choose among the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the Garden of the Gods, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, among other sights.
Day 14: Back to Denver
Stop and visit the U.S. Air Force Academy on your way back to Denver, where your flight home awaits.
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.