Colorado is a state known for its towering mountain ranges, thick forests, and diverse wildlife. The state has so many outdoor exploits that some of the fantastic and exciting sights get overlooked. In this article, we will examine some of the exciting adventures that await you off the beaten track in the Centennial State.
Windy Ridge Bristlecone Pine Area
High above the mountain town of Alma, you will find a gorgeous area of Colorado. This part is known for Bristlecone Pines. These trees are incredibly durable and are some of the longest living trees on the planet; many of which have been alive for thousands of years. These trees are twisted in eerie, almost sinister shapes that branch out at strange angles and leave people in astonishment.
The best place to view the trees and surrounding landscape is the Windy Ridge Scenic Area. This outlook was established by the forest service in 1964 and protects the trees, so travelers for centuries to come can enjoy them. On your way to Windy Ridge, you will get to explore the untouched nature of the Colorado forest and mountains. For nature photographers, these trees are an unconventional source of material.
Grand Mesa is the largest mesa in the world. A mesa is a flat-topped mountain surrounded by sheer cliffs. This particular mesa is stunning and offers plenty of scenic hikes around the mountain and through the forest. It offers excellent day hikes and spectacular sunsets over the lake.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this is the perfect part of Colorado for you to explore. However, if you are not a fan of hiking, but still appreciate grand views, not to worry; you can drive to the top. Grand Mesa has a warm and welcoming atmosphere that will appeal to travelers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Antero Hot Spring Cabin
If you need a break from the great outdoors and are looking to relax, then Antero Hot Spring Cabins are a good option for you. Each of these one hundred year old cabins has its own private hot spring pool right outside the front door. Spend your afternoons soaking in the warm water, sipping wine, and staring up at the 1,500-foot cliffs. Here you can enjoy the natural beauty of Colorado without hiking a single step.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Yes, Colorado has its own sand dunes; the largest one soars 750 feet. Standing on the peak of the massive dunes, you capture the rare view of a vast stretch of desert and snow-capped mountains.
The entire park is over 44,000 acres, and a feature that makes this desert unique is the streams running along the outside of the dunes. The dunes offer many activities for families including sand sledding, camping, and horseback riding. Imagine camping in this park with no light pollution and gazing at the thousands of stars burning in the night sky.
One sight off the beaten path that you will not want to miss is Island Lake in the San Juan National Forest. Tucked inside the mountains are crystal blue glacial lakes, each surrounded by rolling hills of emerald grass and meadows of wildflowers.
There are several hikes of varying degrees to choose from. Find the one that is right for you, and start trekking up the rocky hillsides while enjoying the fresh Colorado air. Your climb will take you up to 1,600 feet within the first couple miles before you reach the first lake. There is nothing quite like the sight of bright blue water while surrounded by the scent of hundreds of wildflowers. Island Lake shows off the deep natural beauty Colorado has to offer.
Colorado is a great state for those looking to get outdoors and off the beaten path. From sand dunes in the middle of snow-capped mountains to glacier lakes surrounded by meadows of flowers, Colorado draws travelers looking for new and exciting adventures. It is a phenomenal state to get out of the big city, breathe some fresh air, and enjoy the natural beauty of America.
What are your favorite off the beaten path experiences in Colorado?