Containing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains within its borders, Colorado is a state famed for its natural beauty. The rich diversity of its landscapes is unparalleled in the United States, being home to panoramic mountain ranges, enormous rivers, pristine alpine lakes, and cinematic desert lands. This is unspoiled country that inspires, that calls to adventurous spirits!
At Front Range Ride Guides, we specialize in providing unforgettable mountain bike adventures in Colorado. Still, the breadth of things to do here is limitless. Colorado is the perfect place, whether your passion is hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, or cycling. And complementing the wonders of the state’s wild landscapes, its cities and towns offer up rich historical sites and cultural attractions.
Join us today as we run through some of our favorite, famous landmarks from across the state. And if we inspire you to plan your next trip, take a look at our website, where you’ll find our range of guided Colorado tours.
The Garden of the Gods
A registered National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods is one of Colorado’s most famous areas of natural beauty. Here, gigantic towers of rock jut from the earth, making for some of the most breathtaking scenery you’re ever likely to encounter. With formations rising over 300 meters into the sky, the Garden of the Gods is mother nature at its majestic best.
The visitor center gives a fascinating overview of the region’s geology and explores Colorado’s fame as a land of dinosaurs. Young family members will enjoy learning about the giant lizards that once roamed these dusty regions.
However, if getting active is more your thing, there are plenty of options at the Garden of the Gods. There are excellent spots for climbing and cycling, while guided tours can be booked. If you want to explore uniquely, you might even consider renting Segways. This extraordinary land is not to be missed when visiting Colorado.
Undoubtedly one of Colorado’s most picturesque hiking spots, the Hanging Lake is located 11 km east of Glenwood Springs. The trailhead leading to the Hanging Lake is short but involves plenty of elevation. However, any exertion required of you on the way is repaid richly by the beauty that awaits you! Reserve plenty of time for your visit, so you can really appreciate the magic of the hanging gardens and the peaceful calm of the environment.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
At its steepest point, the walls of the Black Canyon rise 2,722 feet above the rolling waters of the Gunnison River below. The river’s waters have shaped this dramatic, rocky landscape for millions of years. This national park’s quiet, undiscovered nature gives it a cinematic feel. Hiking here, you’ll be overcome by the stark beauty of your surrounding environment.
Most of the trails in the area are reasonably flat and suitable for hikers at all levels. Within the bounds Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, you will explore 14 miles of the 48-mile Black Canyon. You will be greeted by incredible panoramic views at points along the trails, lit by the glowing sky above. Elsewhere, the canyon walls come within 40 feet of each other, and you’re shrouded in darkness. Shorter hikes in the area can take as little as 20 to 40 minutes, while longer routes might require two to three hours, so plan your walk in advance. If time isn’t an issue, you can consider camping in the park and enjoying the breathtaking dark skies at night, when you’ll be able to gaze up at thousands of visible stars. The lack of light pollution in the region has resulted in it being recognized as an International Dark Sky Park, perfect for budding astronomers.
Located within Colorado’s Montezuma County, Mesa Verde National Park is America’s largest archeological preserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde (“Green Place”), is most famous for its 600 cliff dwellings. The ancient Native American people of the Ancestral Puebloans built extraordinary housing complexes into the cliffsides of the region, the best-preserved example being the iconic Cliff Palace.
Across the Mesa Verde National Park, there are over 5,000 archeological sites providing a fascinating glimpse into the lives of this lost civilization. There is a museum and research center with the park, and guided tours can be arranged to illuminate this endlessly attractive destination – it is quite unlike anywhere else in North America.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Another uncanny Colorado attraction, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the largest sand dunes in North America. With the tallest dune, Star Dune, reaching around 230 meters, this giant dune field makes for an incredible sight.
With the adjacent Sangre de Christo Range visible in the distance, this is an epic landscape, perfect for anyone interested in photography. The dunes themselves can be ascended for panoramic views. And the area possesses many other places of beauty, such as Medano Lake and Medano Creek.
Given protected landmark status in 1985, the Crystal Mill is a picturesque Colorado landmark that offers a unique window into the state’s history. Initially built in 1892, this wooden powerhouse generated power for local silver mines.
You can access the landmark via the town of Marble, a fascinating destination in its own right
. Crystal Mill is the most photographed location in Colorado due to its slightly spooky aura. It’s as if time stopped here; this is a quality shared by many of the Old West towns dotted throughout the region. The mill itself is found on the way to the ghost town of Crystal, and visitors particularly interested in such historical sites could make an entire Colorado ghost town itinerary.
Surrounding the Crustal Mill, you will be able to enjoy hiking trails through thick forest and take in the enchanting presence of the encircling mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Bordered by Estes Park and Grand Lake, the Rocky Mountain National Park is located within the Front Range of the Rockies. Here you can see some of the state’s best mountain scenery, visit pristine alpine lakes, and walk through beautiful forests. The park is famous for its wildlife, with cougars, hares, coyotes, beavers, moose, and bears being just some of its notable residents. Those interested in plant life will note that this area is regarded as the most ecologically diverse area in North America for flora.
With 355 miles of hiking trails, 147 lakes, and 77 mountains taller than 12,000 feet, there’s no shortage of adventures awaiting you in this national park. The area is suitable for extended camping stays or daily visits for short, relaxing hikes.
Pike’s Peak Cog Railway
America’s highest railway! The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has just relaunched in 2021 following a $100 million restoration project. Taking guests to the 4,302-meter summit of Pike’s Peak (beware of altitude sickness – it’s a long way up!).
This is the best way to reach the peak of one of Colorado’s “fourteeners” (a mountain peak that’s at least 4,267m high) and is open to the public all year round. It is sure to be one of the most scenic train journeys you take in your lifetime. Sit back and enjoy the views of this marvelous land!
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
One of the world’s most extraordinary concert venues, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre is an open-air stage and seating area built into the surrounding landscape. The venue is surrounded by an enormous disc of striking red rock. Over the years, the venue has been used for many notable recordings, such as those os U2, Neil Young, and John Denver. This historic 1941 venue is not to be missed! Be sure to check listings to see if a concert coincides with your visit.
Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway
Few things can give you the sensation of traveling through time quite like a coal-fired, steam-powered train! Ride the rails through the heart of the majestic San Juan National Forest and dream of bygone days of cowboys and pioneers. The museum responsible for the running of the railway is dedicated to providing visitors with an authentic feel of the Golden Age of train travel, just as it would have been in 1882 when its story began.
The experience runs throughout the year with many exciting options available, including themed Christmas rides perfect for young adventurers.
This brings to a close our list of famous Colorado landmarks – we hope we’ve given you ideas for your next visit! If you have any questions regarding this blog or our tours, please contact us.