Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Colorado

by | January 2020 | 4 comments

Moving to Colorado was one of the best decisions my hubby and I have ever made. For two nature lovers who can’t get enough of the outdoors, the never-ending outdoor activities in Colorado can’t be beat!

Years ago, we were living in Southern California. But we were miserable. Between working full-time jobs and then adding hours of commuting to our schedules each day, we had no quality of life.

By the time the weekend rolled around, we were exhausted. We had barely enough time to run some errands, take care of a few household chores, and then crash for some much-needed relaxation. Then the work week started all over again. It was a vicious cycle.

Something had to give. We also knew that between the taxes and high housing costs, we’d never be able to afford the type of house we would want there. It was time for a change, a reset. We needed to leave California but didn’t know where to move to.

Since we weren’t moving for jobs or family, we had an unlimited amount of options for places to live! How were we going to decide? We ended up buying an RV and traveling through the country for over a year, seeing each of the 48 contiguous states of the U.S.

There are so many amazing places in the United States, but Colorado took the prize! We ended up settling down in Denver, CO and have loved Colorado living for our home base.

The accessibility to nature creates the perfect balance by giving a big city like Denver so many options for outdoor activities. Pair that with the great weather throughout the year, and you get year-round adventure opportunities in Colorado!

There are a ton of reasons why Colorado is awesome and why we moved to Denver. But the endless outdoor activities in Colorado are one of the main reasons we chose to live in Denver.

With so many options to choose from, it’s hard to narrow them down. But I’ll try to limit them to just a few of my top picks so I don’t overwhelm you. 😉

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Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Colorado

Hiking the Herman Gulch Trail in Colorado

1. Hiking

The Rockies contain the highest peaks in central North America. In fact, the highest peak of the Rocky Mountain range is actually located in Colorado. It’s Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet. 

Mountains with an elevation of 14,000 feet or higher are called “fourteeners” or “14ers.” And there are 58 Colorado 14ers! See the full list HERE. Many people in Colorado make it their goal to hike the 14ers as a right of passage.

It’s no wonder that with so much to see and explore, Colorado was ranked #2 of The Best U.S. States for Hiking! I like how Colorado.com sums up Colorado hiking:

“The best way to define hiking in Colorado is through the numbers: 41 Colorado State Parks, 12 national parks and monuments, 13 national forests and grasslands and 58 14ers (peaks that rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level). All of these add up to thousands of miles of Colorado hiking trails waiting to be explored.”

Well said! And now Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a comprehensive online guide to over 39,000 miles of trails across the state with the Colorado Trail Explorer map that includes 5,683 miles of hiking trails! Get out there for some Colorado hiking and explore Colorado on foot!

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2. Biking

Denver was ranked #2 out of the Top 10 Most Bikeable U.S Cities of 2018.  According to Denver.org:

“The Mile High City boasts more than 85 miles of paved trails that connect to hundreds of additional miles of dirt trails offering mountain bike adventures. These trails also connect riders to dozens of notable attractions, including Cherry Creek Shopping District and Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Park.”

Check out their guide to Denver Bike Trails and the Denver Bike Map.

RV Camping at the Ouray KOA in Ouray, CO

3. Camping

Colorado was ranked #1 for The Best U.S. States for Camping. With gorgeous scenery, endless outdoor activities, and very few bugs, it’s no surprise that Colorado is one of the most popular places to camp in the U.S.  

Luckily, Colorado Parks & Wildlife manage more than 4,000 campsites throughout the state. Wondering where you can find some good Colorado campgrounds for a Colorado camping trip? Take a look at 5280 Magazine’s comprehensive Guide to Camping in Colorado!

Catch and Release Fly Fishing in Estes Park, CO

4. Water Activities

Let’s start with fishing. Colorado was ranked #8 of The Best US States for Fishing, but we think it should be higher up on the list! We had an absolute blast fly fishing in Estes Park and highly recommend a fly fishing excursion if you’re not an expert fishing angler, but if you’re a pro, Colorado is definitely where you want to be! 

If you’d rather be focused on the water itself though rather than the fish in it, you’ve got plenty of choices, including boating, kayaking, world-class whitewater rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, and tubing/river floating.

One of our favorite outdoor activities is taking our 2-person water lounge tube with a built-in cooler for a leisurely float on the Platte River in Littleton. You can even take the river all the way up to Downtown Denver! 

And what’s the perfect way to end your day of outdoor activities in Colorado? Our other favorite water option – soaking in Colorado hot springs! Luckily, Colorado has more than 30 hot springs to choose from after a full day of physical activity outside!

Snowshoeing in Colorado on the Second Creek Trail to Twin Cones Colorado hiking trail

5. Snow Activities

The fun doesn’t stop when the snow starts! I don’t have to tell you that Colorado is known for its skiing/snowboarding. If powder’s your thing, Colorado.com claims that with 28 ski areas and resorts, “Colorado is, after all, the number one destination for skiing in the country and home to America’s best ski resorts and ski vacations”, most of which are within 100 miles of Denver Metro! 

You can also go the more economical/adventurous route by skipping the lift ticket and going backcountry or cross-country skiing! Want to get out in the snow and do something other than ski or snowboard though? How about sledding, tubing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing? So many options for fun in the snow!

Our new favorite winter activity is snowshoeing, which is basically just hiking in the snow.  Why shouldn’t you hike just because there’s snow? It’s a completely different (amazing) experience in Colorado’s winter wonderland! Here are some ideas for Winter Hikes in Colorado.

Wrapping Up the Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Colorado

If you love the outdoors, and you love being active, Colorado is the place for you! On top of all the awesome outdoor activities in Colorado, Denver has a great Downtown, and the people in Colorado are super friendly! 

We’ve made some truly wonderful friends in Colorado who we hike, snowshoe, and float the river with every chance we get. Being outside and active with friends in a place you love… does it get any better than that?

Where do you live? And what are some things you love about living there? Share in the comments below!

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Briana Nickas of Next Destination Unknown

Behind the Blog

I’m Briana Nickas, a part-time RVer who loves RVing, hiking, visiting National Parks, and taking photos. My happiest days are spent on the road with my hubby and our fur-baby Saucy (a 7-lb maltipoo) exploring the country and meeting fellow adventurers along the way… 

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4 Comments

  1. Katie

    Love this! I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado!

    Reply
    • Briana Nickas

      Thanks, Katie! Colorado is ahhh-mazing! I hope you get the chance to visit sometime and do some exploring. There’s so much to see and do!

      Reply
  2. Nissa

    I love Colorado! You’re right the amount of outdoor activities is amazing! Someday my husband and I will either move to the mountains or in a beach town on the coast. Maybe even both if we can make it happen!

    Reply
    • Briana Nickas

      We love living in Colorado! We used to live in Southern California close to the beach, but we opted for mountains over ocean. If you can find a place with both, we’ll move there with you and be neighbors! Haha!

      Reply

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