Colorado Top Picks
|The latest, greatest Colorado national park: the stark San Juan horizon of Great Sand Dunes (Corbis)|
Trek through the Mount Sneffels Wilderness
While Rocky Mountain National Park will forever be Colorado's banner outdoor playground, Mount Sneffels Wilderness in the Uncompahgre National Forest within the southwestern portion of the state is content with its less-popular standingindeed, that's a good portion of its allure. Described more than once as Americas Switzerland, Sneffels Wilderness is blanketed with wildflowers in summer and golden aspens in winter. The classic 13-mile hiking/snowshoeing loop out of Telluride offers impressive vistas of the full 12,605 acres (66 percent of which are above treeline).
GORP.com's guide to the Mount Sneffels Wilderness
Channel Your Inner Cowboy at a Dude Ranch in the San
Get out the spurs and chaps, its time to trip back in time to an era when things were simpler, the cattle roamed free, and the days started at dawn. Dude ranches are scattered all over Colorado, but the best reside within the San Juan Mountains Uncompahgre Valley. Learn the basics of cattle penning and riding on the range, then go hiking, fishing, paddling, and rock climbingan ideal environment to preen those young cowpokes off the Game Boy and get them back in touch with the gritty glories of real life.
GORP.com's Southwestern Colorado Guide
Rewarding Rubber-necking: Driving the Trail Ridge Road
On the surface, sticking behind the wheel of your auto may not seem adventurous in the true sense of the word. But the winding route of the Trail Ridge Roadthe country's highest continuous highwaywill dispel this notion as you weave through the varied expanse of the state's geography. Lovers of curvaceous asphalt should also target the San Juan Skyway, which runs through Anasazi ruins, and Independence Pass, the highest passenger-car crossing of the Continental Divide. And, should you need to stretch your legs instead of just craning your neck, rest assured: all three offer countless access to trailheads.
Nature's Sand Box: Great Sand Dunes National Park
Awarded national park status in November 2000, Great Sand Dunes NP distinguishes itself from the other hot-sand areas of the southwest by its jaw-dropping backdrop: the San Juans and the snow-covered Rockies. The 700-foot-high rippling dunesthe highest in North Americareach across 39 square miles in south-central Coloradoprime for your leaping pleasure.
GORP.com's guide to the Great Sand Dunes
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication