The Centennial State is 104,000 square miles of adventure, whatever your tastes may be! From the rugged mountain environment of the Western Slope to the cities of the Front Range, Colorado is filled with variety. I could write about my adopted home all day, but I'm going to tempt you with just five reasons to visit Colorful Colorado:
1. Arts and culture
From big city galleries and museums to undiscovered artists (and photographers!) in small town galleries, Colorado seems to inspire a large number of creative people. You can also catch some of your favorite bands at some of the country's best live venues (like the Red Rocks Amphitheater), or perhaps a play or classical performance at a historic theater (such as the Creede Repertory Theatre).
2. National Parks and Recreation Areas
Colorado is an amazing place for nature fans. From lush forests to deserts to high mountain peaks, every taste and ability level is catered for. Rocky Mountain National Park is an easily accessible snapshot of Colorado's mountain wilderness, while the lesser known Colorado National Monument offers arid canyons and equally stunning views from trails or the comfort of your vehicle. Other places, such as the Curecanti National Recreation Area, provide excellent fishing and boating opportunities.
3. Craft brewing
The rising popularity of craft beer is probably most evident in the bars and liquor stores of Colorado, where some of the best (in my opinion) new breweries in the US are based. There are nearly 200 in Colorado, but you don't have to be in Denver to try them; one of my favorite breweries is only 150 miles away from me on the Western Slope. If you've always been a wine lover, ask your bartender for a saison ale. If you find a new favorite, ask your local liquor store for it by name, or maybe take a 64oz growler from a brewer's taproom back to your hotel or cabin to enjoy.
The state of Colorado came into existence on August 1, 1876, making it the 38th to join the Union. However, the land that encompasses Colorado includes historic places that are much older. Mesa Verde was first settled around 400 AD, while the features of Dinosaur National Monument date back millions of years. Since its inception, Colorado's main industry was mining. Depending on the area, coal, lead, silver, gold and other valuable resources were extracted in vast quantities, and while many mines have since closed, old mining structures and ghost towns remain, along with numerous small museums that tell the story of Colorado's settlement from the East.
From the long, warm days of summer to the pristine landscapes of winter, Colorado has it all. World-class skiing opportunities can be found at the famous resorts and at lesser-known, more affordable slopes. Colorado's state flower, the blue columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) can be found alongside many other colorful wild flowers in bloom during late spring and summer. Fall offers a spectacular display of golden aspen leaves that has to be experienced.
With these five reasons to visit Colorado, I'm barely scratching the surface. Colorado has just about everything except a coastline!
If you're looking for a small town to visit on the Western Slope, take a look at Lake City.
If you enjoyed the images in this article, take a look at my galleries to see more.