Colorado’s National Parks

Photo: AdobeStock/KrzysztofWiktor

Photo: AdobeStock/KrzysztofWiktor

One state, four beautiful destinations
By Mary Anderson

The scenic nooks and crannies of Colorado could keep one busy for years to come. However, the National Park Service has made it easy to experience the state’s finest natural resources by dedicating national parks. Here are Colorado’s four brightest stars.

1.   Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park
The formation of Black Canyon of the Gunnison began two million years ago. The Gunnison River and ongoing weathering sculpted an astounding vertical canyon that is 2,722-feet deep. It stretches 48 miles and contains a roaring river descending an average of 43 feet per mile. Visitors can hike, fish, kayak and rock climb at the park. 
Click here to plan your trip.


2.   Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve contain the tallest dunes in North America. Opposing wind forces pushed large amounts of sediment from the San Juan Mountains, Sangre de Cristo Mountains and a huge dried-up lake to form these enormous dunes. Snowmelt also flows into the park during the summer months. But, due to a particularly dry winter and spring, the river is not expected to reach the dunes this year. (Learn more here)
Visitors can hike, backpack, sandboard, sled or horseback ride. 
Click here to plan your trip. 

3.   Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde, meaning green table in Spanish, is located in southwest Colorado. The area used to be home to the Ancestral Pueblo people from the 1300s. Today, visitors can explore 5,000 archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings and more than 40 miles of roads. The sites “are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States,” according to the park’s website.  
Click here to plan your trip.

4.   Rocky Mountain National Park
I don’t need to tell you about Rocky Mountain National Park. We all know its breathtaking beauty and extensive list of outdoor activities. But for those who are new to our beautiful state, Rocky Mountain National Park is our state’s largest national park. With 415 miles of incredible scenery and massive peaks, there are tons of adventure to be had. This also makes it incredibly busy during the summer months.
Visitors can hike, do a scenic drive, camp, fish, backpack and horseback ride. Avoid crowds by traveling further into the park and checking out the west side, especially on weekdays.
Click here to plan your trip.