Colorado has got to be one of the most beautiful states in the United States
. Having just about any kind of terrain imaginable, and a variety of climates to match - as well as rapid weather changes, there is something for just about anyone - all year around. About half of the state is a plain and capable of good crop growth, but the western half is mostly mountainous - providing any visitor with magnificent sights all over. Denver
, the state's capital, is setup on the High Plains in the South Plate River Valley.
Of the many things that Colorado is known for, its mountains are what brings the people here. Offering unequaled scenic views all over the mountains, its beauty is a constant draw for tourists throughout the year. With over 550 peaks that are over 13,123 feet (4,000 meters), many of these are snow capped through most months of the year. The highest peak is Mt. Elbert, which stands at 14,400 feet - and it is also the highest peak in the
Rocky Mountains, too.
Many people come to Colorado just for the peaks that are over 14,000 feet - there are 54 of them. Some, that love to climb, make it a goal to do something like climb 14 of the 14'ers (as they are called) in 14 days, or 21 in 21 days. Most can be climbed without any kind of special gear, but great caution is always advised. Others, that love the snow, may try something like skiing all of them in a year, or some kind of similar challenge.
One of the most fascinating mountains has got to be Pike's Peak. At 14,110 feet, this mountain has the highest road on it in the US. Besides that, when you get to the top, there is a store with a restaurant - and souvenirs. The views are breath taking, and well worth the trip. Bring a coat, though, because even in August it can snow up there. For those who may not want to drive to the top, there is a scenic train ride that runs all the up. After visiting here, you will understand what inspired Katherine Lee Bates to pen the words to our own special anthem - America The Beautiful.
Colorado Springs is right next to Pike’s Peak, so you will want to stop in and see some of the many sights while you are here. Among them would have to be the beautiful red rock formations at the Garden of the Gods. A nearby place, Cave of the Winds, will give you a tour through 20 lighted rooms in this cave – the area’s oldest public exhibit. At the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you can see and feed some of the 500 exotic animals that live there. Then, for a change of pace, you can visit the Pike’s Peak International Raceway for some NASCAR racing. Not far from Colorado Springs is the new museum, the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. This new 20,000 square foot museum features many dinosaur exhibits and has a working lab where the family can see real people cleaning and preparing real dinosaur bones for exhibits.
Mesa Verde National Park is another great place for sightseeing. This historic Indian village is considered one of the top 50 places in the world to see - according to National Geographic Traveler. These Indian adobe homes are built under a massive rock ledge and have existed for centuries, and then was abandoned around 1,300 AD. It is well preserved, fascinating, and you can even climb through and walk around the ruins. Also in the same Park, are many other archeological ruins that you can see while you are there. Mesa Verde is located in the Four Corners region of Colorado.
Another fantastic place to see is Royal Gorge. Here you will find the world's highest suspension bridge. It is more than 1,000 feet above the wild Arkansas River. You can drive across the bridge (there is a toll), or just walk across, for a great experience. There is also a tram that goes across the Gorge. It also holds a world's record, too, as being the longest single span aerial tram at 2,200 feet long.
While you are in the area of Royal Gorge, stop by and see a ghost town, and get a glimpse of the wild, wild west in action. Gunfights are held several times a day at the Buckskin Joe Frontier Town and Railway. There are also some other shows in the town, as well as a 30-minute train ride that takes you to the Royal Gorge. A restaurant in the town also gives you good food.
If you plan your trip ahead of time, you may want to spend some time on one of Colorado's dude ranches. Plenty of activities with an obvious way to get away from it all and relax a few days to a different lifestyle. Besides some of the roping and riding, however, dude ranches are now offering things like tennis, skeet shooting, biking, as well as fishing and hiking. Some places may even offer massages for those sore muscles after riding a few hours, and of course, there's the evening campfire - and some offer a gourmet meal. You select the options you want - and how long you can stay.
Colorado was made for whitewater rafting. With its many mountains and wild rivers you can find just about any level of whitewater rafting you want - just be sure to find out what level it is before you jump in your kayak or canoe. One of the most popular spots in the world is the Arkansas River - which is the river that runs under Royal Gorge. Rafting packages are available in many different locations and can be for an afternoon or a several day rafting trip. If you get a package, make sure you get it at least a month ahead of your trip - longer is better.
Other outdoor activities include golf, skiing, hunting and fishing. There are places all over the western half of Colorado where you can enjoy these activities to your heart's content. There are also a number of amusement parks such as Water World and Six Flags, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Captain Zip Line Adventure Tours, and many more.