Colorado Top Picks

Backpack, gallop, drive, and then stop, drop, and roll
Page 2 of 3   |  
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 standing—indeed, that's a good portion of its allure. Described more than once as America’s 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).'s guide to the Mount Sneffels Wilderness

Channel Your Inner Cowboy at a Dude Ranch in the San
Juan Mountains

Get out the spurs and chaps, it’s 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 climbing—an ideal environment to preen those young cowpokes off the Game Boy and get them back in touch with the gritty glories of real life.'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 Road—the country's highest continuous highway—will 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 dunes—the highest in North America—reach across 39 square miles in south-central Colorado—prime for your leaping pleasure.'s guide to the Great Sand Dunes

Published: 22 Aug 2003 | Last Updated: 20 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »