Discover why Colorado will leave you in a state of ecstasy.

Coloradoans love to be outdoors, and with an epic backyard like theirs, could you blame them? Locals are blessed to have a playground that includes the Rocky Mountains, hot springs galore, the tallest dune system in North America, ancient villages in canyon walls, and streams to do all kinds of water sports. Here, locals care about what outdoor activities you enjoy, not what you do for a living. (Our kind of people!)

Adopt their adventurous mindset by checking out our top things to do in Colorado to get your adrenaline pumping this summer.

Read more: From Snow to Sand Colorado’s Natural Wonders Are Set to Astound

1. Explore Rocky Mountain National Park

What’s a Colorado must-see list without mentioning its behemoth drawcard? Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the country’s most visited national parks. Beyond the skis and snowboards, you can still work your glutes on the slopes by adventuring in this high-elevation playground in summer, 106km northwest of Denver. 

The park attracts all kinds of adventure buffs – hikers, rock climbers, campers – with its seemingly endless supply of ridgelines, including peaks dubbed the ’14ers’ AKA peaks over 14,000 feet (4,267 metres), alpine lakes, spruce forests, and meadows. Wildlife watchers can play ‘spotto’ with park residents: elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, moose, and over 300 bird species. 


Alpenglow kisses Hallet Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

But the park’s mass appeal for adventure or furry/feathered locals shouldn’t worry – there are plenty of spots for mountain magic, absent of crowds. The park covers 265,807 acres and includes a whopping 571km hiking trail network.

Can’t decide which path to take? Experience the best of the park in a day on a hiking tour to boost your knowledge of the region and altitude. Extend your rendevous in the Rockies by camping on a cliff edge. Or see the mountains in comfort driving along America’s highest paved road, Mount Evans Scenic Byway.

Top tip: Rocky Mountain National Park operates on timed entry permits to limit congestion, enhance the visitor experience, and most importantly, protect the park’s pristine environment. To avoid disappointment, book ahead, particularly in the peak season (May to October).

2. Ride Mountain Bikes in Durango

Hop on two fat tyres for the ultimate mountain biking adventure in Durango. The town 524km southwest of Denver is Colorado’s mountain biking playground, with trails to suit all skill sets in the most impressive scenery.


Send it! | Photo by Visit Durango

Hire a bike or join a guided tour with Pedal the Peaks to go down mountains, valleys, and creek beds. There are plenty of jumps, hairpins, switchbacks, and technical, if blitzing down a single track isn’t badass enough.

After the ride, soothe your hard-worked muscles at Durango Hot Springs. Pick your pool, pick your temperature, and watch the sunset cast a light on the mountains that surround you. Worth the sweat two-fold.

Read more: 8 USA National Parks You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

3. Climb a Via Ferrata in Ouray

Have you ever thought of walking a tightrope between mountains? It’s a gnarly thought, even wilder to walk the talk but trust me, it’s worth the mid-air challenge. But before commencing this balancing act, one must clamber a cliff face.


Climbing Via Ferratta | Photo by Visit Ouray

Sometimes, Colorado doesn’t make it easy to enjoy its mountainous scenery. Head to Ouray to have a hair-raising adventure on a Via Ferrata.

This mountain town, 112km north of Durango, is famed for its many Via Ferratas – an Italian WWII invention to traverse vertical terrain and involves a mix of abseiling and clambering using metal rungs. Avid climbers descend to try their hand/feet coordination on iron paths.

Gold Mountain in Ouray is considered one of the biggest Via Ferratas in the country and includes a suspension bridge climb no wider than a ruler’s length, AKA the hairy tightrope walk.

Via Ferrata climb also intertwines the region’s history with mineshaft remnants found along the cliff. The views of the vibrant alpine town, snaking roads, and forested mountains are nothing short of spectacular. A must-do in Colorado!

4. Whitewater Rating in Buena Vista

Colorado may not have a beach, but it has rivers – a lot of them. And what more badass way to enjoy the water than to go on a whitewater rafting adventure?

Head to Buena Vista, 198km southwest of Denver, to test your strength and balancing act along the Arkansas River.


River Runners offers half-day, full-day, and multi-day whitewater rafting adventures. Test your paddle might and easy and go on class 3-4 rafting adventure along Browns Canyon National Monument.

This time, you can take in the amazing canyon scenery without worrying too much about being thrown overboard with hardcore rapids.

The trip ends up at a riverside bar where you can toast the team on what an exciting way to experience Colorado’s countryside.


7 Reasons Colorado Is America’s Adventurous State, Julia D'Orazio, browns canyon, raft, people, whitewater

Get ready for the splashhh! | @catherineeichelphotography

5. Adopt a Cowboy/Cowgirl Persona While Horseback Riding in Loveland

Get out the cowboy hat, don the flannel, and giddy up for horseback riding on the outskirts of Loveland. Family-owned cattle station Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, 95km north of Denver, offers horseback rides along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.


7 Reasons Colorado Is America’s Adventurous State, julia D'Orazio, person on a horse


You’ll get a sense of the real ‘wild wild west’ a trot along bushlands and ascend rocky-red hills to arrive at the top of Eagle Ridge.

Have another taste of the rancher life with a sundowner barbeque on the summit with local thick-cut beef steaks, a pulled pork stew, and chocolate brownies on the menu. Yeehaw!

6. Have an Urban Adventure in Denver

You’re already off to a good start in Denver. The Mile High City is a springboard to Colorado’s wealth of attractions, but the city has a few kooky adventures of its own. 

Discover the city’s many shades with Denver Graffiti Tour. The two-hour walking tour explores the city’s gritty and colourful side, meandering through the RiNo Art District.


Street art in Denver | Photo by Visit Denver

This creative district is an urban canvas, with the tour delving into the stories behind the many larger-than-life murals and installations that colour its industrial walls. The tour visits Denver’s creative heart, Larimer Street, before winding through Denver Central Market, a culinary emporium in the city’s hippest postcode, to refuel for the next adventure. 


Julia D’Orazio was a guest of the Colorado Tourism Office, and all thoughts and opinions are of her own.

Feature photo by Visit Durango