Colorado's soaring mountain peaks and heavy winter snowfall make it a phenomenal winter sports destination – but its appeals sweep through every season. Endless national parks are weaved with sweeping valleys and dense forests, making them ripe for exploration throughout spring, summer and autumn. Snow-draped zeniths begin to melt while shimmering lakes, in the shadow of verdant slopes, steal the show, as days can be lost spent climbing canyons, kayaking and hiking – or simply just by watching the world go by.
The iconic Rocky Mountains have part of their home in the eponymous National Park in Colorado, an awe-inspiring wonderland of dramatic crags and valleys. Further on is neighbouring Estes Park, home to the sparkling Lake Estes, base camp to the national park and beginning of the epic Trail Ridge Road. More serene delights lie in Glenwood Springs, home to the world’s largest natural mineral pool and exciting white-water rafting opportunities through the pretty Glenwood Canyon.
Head south and you'll find the resort town of Colorado Springs. The town is shadowed by the glacier-carved Pikes Peak, and from here it's a short trip to the spectacular Garden of the Gods, featuring iconic red-sandstone formations, awesome mountain views and the pretty waterfalls of the Broadmoor Seven Falls.
The outstanding highlights of Colorado? You'd be hard-pressed to argue against the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, or perhaps the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sweeping views of dramatically-different types dominate here, although it'd be tough to make a judgement until you've head to Durango, where the 19-century steam train traverses through canyons and climbs jagged mountains. This all leads to the iconic Million Dollar Highway, whose roads lead to colossal mountain passes, sheer drops and rushing rivers. Head off the highway and towards Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the most well-preserved cliff dwellings on the continent, once home to the Ancestral Pueblo over 800 years ago.
Denver, the capital, has its delights too, as a growing beer craft capital that's complemented with food festivals and fresh fish markets. Don't miss a film or tour of the spectacular amphitheatre Red Rocks Theatre or an epic concert surrounded by miles of arid red rock landscape. You'll find classic American food with a Colorado twist throughout the state, often created from the produce that lies in surroundings, from elk sliders and bison burgers to pork green chilli soup.
For winter lovers, Vail hosts miles of terrain, or for non-skiers the White River National Forest snow-covered expanse is charming enough in itself. Come summer, the town transforms into a verdant hub of golf, mountain hikes and festivals. A few hours south west and big-name Aspen proves why it's one of the world's top ski resorts, filled with gourmet restaurants, small boutiques and even an opera house, alongside, naturally world-class ski terrain. Summer and fall in turn are also magical, surrounded by towering Aspen groves and wild-flower filled meadows in the shadow of the dramatic Maroon Bell Mountains.