Colorado is an outdoor family vacation paradise— known as a playground for nature lovers, with its jaw-dropping mountains, epic national parks, and endless recreational activities (hellllooo Colorado whitewater rafting). We’ve handpicked the top five outdoor destinations in Colorado that cater to families seeking excitement and quality time together. Get ready to immerse yourselves in stunning landscapes, bond with your loved ones, and create unforgettable memories. So grab your gear, load up the car, and let’s dive into the wild beauty of Colorado!
5 Best Outdoor Family Vacations in Colorado
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Colorado Whitewater Rafting
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- Colorado Springs
Rocky Mountain National Park
Nestled amidst the towering peaks of the Rockies, Rocky Mountain National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Lace up your hiking boots and venture along the park’s extensive trail system, which offers options for all skill levels. Families can embark on a leisurely stroll around Bear Lake or tackle the iconic hike to Alberta Falls for cascading waterfalls and breathtaking views. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot elk, deer, and maybe even bears or bighorn sheep. Fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, and camping under the starry night sky are also popular activities. With its enchanting landscapes and diverse wildlife, Rocky Mountain National Park promises an unforgettable family adventure.
Mesa Verde National Park
Step back in time and explore the fascinating cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a unique opportunity to discover the rich culture of the ancestral Pueblo people. Take guided tours to marvel at the intricate architecture and learn about the lives of these ancient inhabitants. Junior Ranger programs are available for children, providing educational and interactive experiences that will leave a lasting impression. Immerse your family in ancient history and witness the awe-inspiring cliff dwellings that have stood the test of time. Mesa Verde National Park offers a captivating journey into the past, making it a must-visit destination for families seeking both education and adventure.
In this day and age, when busy schedules and bright screens take up so much of our day-to-day lives, nothing compares to slowing down and spending a night under the stars. Hit the road and head to Cañon City, Colorado, on the banks of the renowned Arkansas River. From here, point your rig west for 20 miles to Five Points Campsite. Park your trailer, set up the tent, and settle in. Take in the view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and let the Arkansas’ song lull you to sleep. But the river isn’t just there to admire from the bank. That’s right, there’s fishing, swimming, and rafting to be done. Don’t worry if you didn’t pack your gear. Arkansas River Tours offers a multitude of trips along this section of river, and they’ve got you covered! From lazy flatwater like the Cottonwood Canyon Float to splashy waves and hungry trout on the Bighorn Sheep Canyon Float, this guide service is the best in the business. Check them out to help you along with the best outdoor family vacation of the year! Pro-tip: consider adding a Multi-Day Family-Friendly River Trip to your itinerary to combine an epic camping trip with two days on the river! This is one of our absolute favorite outdoor family vacations.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Prepare for a one-of-a-kind adventure at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, where immense sand dunes meet the rugged beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Challenge your family to sandboarding or sledding down the dunes, an exhilarating experience for all ages. Explore the diverse ecosystems surrounding the dunes, including wetlands and alpine tundra. Don’t forget to cool off in Medano Creek, a seasonal stream perfect for splashing and picnicking. The nearby Zapata Falls offers a refreshing hike and stunning waterfall views. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a unique destination that combines the thrill of sandboarding, the serenity of nature, and the breathtaking landscapes of the Colorado wilderness. It promises an adventure that will create lifelong memories for your family.
For a mix of outdoor beauty and family-friendly attractions, head to Colorado Springs. Discover the awe-inspiring rock formations of Garden of the Gods, where you can hike, bike, or even try your hand at rock climbing. Take a thrilling ride to the summit of Pikes Peak on the cog railway or enjoy panoramic views from the top. Other family-friendly activities in the area include visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and exploring the Cave of the Winds. Colorado Springs offers a perfect blend of natural wonders and exciting attractions, making it an ideal destination for an unforgettable family vacation.
Start Planning Your Next Outdoor Family Vacation in Colorado
Colorado is a treasure trove of outdoor family vacations, offering something for everyone. From the majestic beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park to the ancient wonders of Mesa Verde National Park, and the adrenaline rush of whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River, each destination provides unique experiences that will create lasting memories for you and your family. So, start planning your adventure and immerse yourselves in Colorado’s natural wonders. We’ll save you a spot on our boat!