1. Denver Area
2. Fort Collins
3. Rocky Mountain National Park
4. Colorado Springs
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
When I first saw pictures of this place I was hooked. It’s incredible. Like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon, but almost as impressive and more off the radar. It’s “similar” in that it’s a huge canyon with a river that runs through it, but the walls are totally different colors and more varied in the rock formations (in my opinion). If you pay attention, you can see some striking details and differences across the two rims of the canyon and even along the same rim. At a half mile deep, the vertical cliffs are intense at the overlooks and along parts of the rim drives. Breathtaking views, vertigo inducing drops, hiking trails, adventure driving, and fishing. I recommend staying for 2-3 days around the South Rim (camping) or Montrose (Riverbend RV Park & Cabins).
Great Sand Dunes National Park
This place is incredibly unique and needs to be seen and experienced in person. Pictures do not do it justice. The sand dunes are massive and just beyond them are mountain forests. In the summer, there’s even a river that flows through it. It’s a crazy and interesting ecosystem to say the least. Hike up to High Dune, but beware it’s tough since it’s all sand. It’s 3 miles round trip and takes about 2 hours. Want more punishment, keep going to Star Dune. The sunsets are magnificent, really from anywhere, but especially from Pinon Flats Campground, which is a great place to camp. Skies are dark, so stargazing is fantastic with clear skies. Keep in mind it’s around 8K’ in elevation so it gets cold at night. Wear sunblock while hiking the dunes. You can rent snowboards/sleds just outside the park.
Telluride felt like a bunch of rich folks, ski bums, and hipsters all arrived at the same time and decided to just stay and live together in this growing, beautiful ski based mountain town. Just up the road is Mountain Village which is really where the rich people and ski resorts lie. The town itself is a mix of old west and modern, plenty of art, shops, and restaurants jam packed into this small town. Not far from the Million Dollar Highway, worth a stop if you have time, whether you ski or not. It’s beautiful.
- Driving. Unless you plan to do nothing but interstate highway driving, many of the roads through Colorado have sharp curves and are very steep. Plan your route and know the driving conditions before setting out, especially if you're towing a camper. Also fun fact, since there is less oxygen in the air, your car will be able to run on less octane gas which you may notice at the gas stations. Unfortunately though this means that the higher the elevation, the more power your car loses. You'll notice this on mountain drives going up.
- Water and Sunblock. I can't stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated, more so than you might think, even if it's cold, simply due to the altitude. For the same reason, it's easier to get burnt at higher elevations and thus you should protect yourself with sunblock, especially in the summer months when you're not bundled up and skin is exposed. Pace yourself and hydrate so you can do more and enjoy your trip.