Beautiful to Bizarre: 11 Favorite Finds in Colorado
In Merle Haggard’s tune "Colorado," the crooner sings, "And if God doesn’t live in Colorado, I bet that’s where He spends most of His time." Filled with snow-capped mountains, forests and canyons, Colorado, known for its enchanting beauty, is one of Mother Nature’s finest works. Outdoorsmen adore Colorado’s skiing and snow boarding, shoppers love the high-end and artsy boutiques, and foodies find a vast variety of microbreweries and award-winning farm-to-market restaurants. Colorado is all-around cool – and not only in temperature. Get ready to chill.
By: Jennifer Frazier
Photo By: Matt Inden
Up On a Mountain in Cascade
Many people believe Pike’s Peak, located in the Rocky Mountains within Pike National Forest and standing at 14,115 feet, holds the honor of being the tallest mountain in Colorado. Not true. Actually, Mt. Elbert stands 300 feet taller. Still, Pike’s Peak is one of the state’s most prominent, known for its amazing skiing, as well as for legendary Big Foot sightings. More proof of its beauty? Katherine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful" after being inspired by the view from Pikes Peak. Photo courtesy of VisitCOS.com.
Stage Under the Stars in Morrison
A musical concert here, housed in the wide-open spaces of Colorado under a blanket of stars, is unlike any other. Since 1941, Red Rocks Amphitheater, located 15 miles west of Denver, has been wowing audiences. In fact, it’s a toss-up whether the musicians and talent can even compete with this natural beauty, which was formed between the two massive monoliths, serving as the ultimate stage. Photo courtesy of Steve Crecelius.
One Great Sandcastle in San Luis Valley
Encompassing 44,246 acres, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve very well may be America’s greatest sand box. Piled high and majestic like a mountain range, this natural wonder is actually sand, offering a sight like any other and a spot to test out your sand-boarding and sledding skills (just like you would on snow!). Fact is, the tallest sand dune in the country is in Great Sand Dunes, said to be the creation of ocean waters and wind more than one million years ago. Photo by Matt Inden courtesy of Colorado Tourism.
A Conference Call With a Twist in Boulder
Some days you just don’t feel like dragging yourself out of bed and going to work. Held in July, Boulder’s annual Tube To Work Day is one day you won’t want to call in sick to the office. Some participants don wetsuits under their business attire, while others simply keep it to the suit and tie. Either way — and no matter what you wear — showing up wet to work will be excused. Photo by Caroline Colvin.
Hands-On History in Manitou Springs
Most historical attractions have a "look, don’t touch" policy. That’s not the case at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, located just west of Colorado Springs. These Native American cliff dwellings, estimated to be about 700 years old, were built by the Anasazi in the Four Corners area several hundred miles southwest of Manitou Springs. In 1904, the dwellings were painstakingly taken apart, relocated where they are today and put in place with modern-day cement. Thus, a piece of history is secured by a modern-day material, making this a touch- and climb-friendly historical site. Photo courtesy of VisitCOS.com.
A Fetching Attraction in Denver
Located outside Denver’s Municipal Animal Shelter and part of the Denver Public Art collection, this is one of Colorado’s best doggone finds. Dog lovers plan a visit to see "Sun Spot," a 20-foot-tall metal statue covered with over 90,000 dangling, stainless steel dog tags. If you can’t visit by day, swing by at night, when LEDs make the mutt change colors when the tags ripple in the wind. Photo by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan.
Cowboy Culture in Breckenridge
When you visit Breckenridge, skiing and snow activities rule. If you yearn for something else or pull too many muscles on the slopes, check out Breckenridge’s public art program featuring 26 outdoor sculptures located around town, including the bronze work called "Three Cowboys" by Stephen Hansen. It sits in front of the of the Heritage Alliance Building with a plaque reading, "They all agreed, the trail is that way." Photo by Jessie Unruh courtesy of Go Breck.
Snowy Style in Aspen
When you think of shopping a quaint downtown, perhaps you envision little boutiques and restaurants lining a walkable street. You picture sidewalks with benches and places to spend some time finding one-of-a-kind treasures. Aspen, a ski resort city situated in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains (in the Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains), offers this — you just might need to bring some snowshoes when you decide to shop until you drop. And, also bring your credit card, as celebrities and musicians flock here and have brought an influx of wealth, making Aspen one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Photo courtesy of Aspen Ski Company.
Powder Time in Telluride
Snow skiing is so yesterday. Get hip and try out snow boarding in Telluride. You can take lessons or go it on your own (if you so dare), and there are even classes for kids to take up the sport. It’s rumored Telluride got its name from a mumbled "to hell you ride," but experiencing Telluride Ski Resort can only be described as heaven. Photo courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort.
Dancing in the Streets in Boulder
Home to the University of Colorado, this college town has always attracted hippies (since the 60s), artists and free spirits. Embrace your love of the great outdoors and expect festivals (an international film and a music one), artists, museums, shopping and a progressive state of mind—all set in one of the most amazing backdrops. A Boulder highlight? The top-notch street performers can be seen year round on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall. Photo by Rich Grant courtesy of Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Get Slayed in Crested Butte
Drive down the hill into Crested Butte and pay close attention. Not for the gorgeous mountains, although you’ll be able to spy them. No, keep an eye out for a gigantic chrome statue of a dragon (boasting a wingspan of 23 feet). Created in 1987 by Sean Guerrero, the Dragon Slayer sculpture is made entirely of recycled remains, from car bumpers from the 1930s and 40s, and weighs nearly three tons. Photo by Beth Buehler courtesy of Gunnison Crested Butte Tourism Association.