Skiing, boating, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding (inhale, deep breath here), scenic byways, rock climbing … okay, have you caught up yet? There are tons of things to do in Colorado! The really cool thing is you do not have to traverse the whole state to partake of these wonderful activities. The Colorado National Parks have many of them ready at your beckon call! That's right, one location and you can experience one of the more joyous family vacations you've ever had.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Fourteen miles of the Gunnison's deep gorges are within this 31,000-acre National Park. Since it can be a bit hazardous to enter the backcountry, permits are required and be very wary of where and how you drive the road. Eight miles east of Montrose you can access the South Rim observation points. The North Rim is accessible from Crawford and the last few miles are gravel, not asphalt. At the Gunnison Visitor Center, you can gain information on all types of activities. These include interpretive programs such as the Park's history, houses, geology and plants and animals. Camping and food are located with Black Canyon of the Gunnison State Park to keep the kids well fed and well rested.
Rocky Mountain National Park
This Park spans much of the area from Estes Park northward to Grand Lake, the beginning of the Colorado River system. Rocky Mountain National Park is open twenty-four hours a day year round. This allows for enjoyment of summer and winter activities.
Come on over and have a walk through nature on the paths through the Park and cool off in the water as you come on by. Cast your nets and catch some fish. Grab a horse and take a ride. Leave the horse and grab a car for a scenic byway tour. Ski on water or on snow. Sleep under the stars as you camp out. Lodging can be found on site if you do not feel like roughing it. The acreage of Rocky Mountain national park extends to 265,769 acres on the Rocky's Front Range, lending us over seventy-five peaks to wander through. Your sanctuary awaits!
Mesa Verde National Park
Ten miles east of Cortez in southernwestern Colorado you will find Mesa Verde National Park. Over 4000 archaeological sites that include over 600 cliff dwellings within the park making it one of the nation's largest archaeological preserves. Eighty square miles rise to 2,000 feet from the valley floor. Descendants of the area are the Hopi and Navajo peoples, with the cliff dwellers reputably having disappeared to places unknown. It is thought that crop failures due to droughts forced the inmates away.
You can have quite the history tour with your family viewing the major apartments from overlooks, and able to get up close and personal to others. Guided tours are given by Park Rangers, and you may also travel along the scenic routes by car. The Balcony House, Far View Sites, and Fewkes Canyon are just a few of the sites to see. Do not miss the Mesa Top Loop Road or the Petroglyph Point Trail for sights you will not see just anywhere!
As you can see, there's a lot to do in Colorado National Parks and the fun does not stop with what's listed. We've got a ten page story to tell for each location if we did that! Hop in a plane or on a train, on a bike or in a car and come on over to view the Parks of Colorado!