Welcome to our Colorado itinerary 4 days of adventure and outdoor exploration in colourful Colorado.
North AmericaUnited States4 days / January 2018
Highs & Lows
We were able to explore so many diverse natural landscapes.
We dot not have enough time to hike all of the trails we would've liked to.
From iconic red sandstone formations, to towering snow-capped mountains, to expansive sand dunes, and evergreens as far as the eye can see, Colorado's geography and natural landscapes are as diverse as they come. The vibrant, western state that is “Colorful Colorado” lives up to its namesake, and ranks pretty high on our list of aesthetically pleasing destinations in the United States. In our experience, the mix of winding roads, sprawling valleys, and steep mountain passes that you'll find here are best explored by car, so we are sharing our epic, winter Colorado road trip itinerary that is packed with hikes, hot springs, and outdoor adventures galore.
We got into Denver late, so we went straight to bed in preparation for our first full day in Colorado.
The next morning we set off on the first leg of our road trip and headed about 2 hours west of Denver for some adventure and relaxation.
Seth strapped on his snowboard and hit the slopes at Breckenridge with some friends.
Aleah on the other hand, decided to take a route of relaxation instead and checked out Glenwood Hot Springs Resort. This resort features a mineral pool that is known for being the largest hot springs pool in the world, a spa, and a new waterpark. Spending a few hours lounging in the geothermal pool and soaking in all of the benefits from 15 healing minerals present in the water was the perfect way to spend the afternoon while Seth was snowboarding. Note: this resort is open to the general public and no prior reservation is required to visit.
After our day apart, we drove to Alamosa in preparation for the next day's adventure.
We set our alarms for 5am so that we could watch the sunrise over one of the most awe inspiring natural landscapes Colorado has to offer - Great Sand Dunes National Park. These dunes, covering 30 square miles, are positioned in front of snow-capped, cloud-scraping mountains and have to be seen to be believed.
After we had our fill of exploring the dunes, we took a hike to Zapata Falls. This waterfall lies just a few miles outside of the park's entrance. The trek to the falls is a short (2 miles total) hike full of beautiful views that should not be missed.
After our hike, we drove about an hour north to Valley View Hot Springs Eco Resort to hang out in some hillside hot pools that overlook the San Luis Valley. We spent the night in a rustic mountainside cabin and took full advantage of the fact that the warm springs and property's sauna are open 24 hours. Note: While this place is technically family friendly, it is at the same time clothing optional.
We woke up to another early alarm and made the three hour drive from Valley View Hot Springs to Garden of the Gods Park. There, we were amazed to see some of the reddest sandstone rock formations in Colorado. We highly recommend hiking up to both the "Siamese Twins" and "Balanced Rock" which are two of the park’s most iconic formations. Also, there is a massive mule deer population that inhabits the park as well – they’re adorable and everywhere!
After our hike, we made the five minute drive over to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. We hiked to the old Quarry and were mesmerized by the prominent cuts that are still present in the rockface, and climbing the steep, narrow staircase that was once used by miners was another major highlight of this hike. Note, there is no information/welcome center here, so we recommend doing some research on what trail or area of the park you would like to explore before you arrive.
We then drove up to Loveland and stayed the night at another rustic, cabin-like Airbnb that provided us with easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park the next morning.
We stayed in a little cabin right outside of Estes Park, and we awoke to about a dozen deer wandering around the property. The homeowner left us corn so we could feed the deer, and we had such a great time starting our day by handfeeding these beautiful creatures including a mother and baby!
We only had a few hours to explore Rocky Mountain National Park, so in an effort to make the most of the little time that we had, we took a short but still oh-so-scenic hike to Gem Lake. This trail is located in just north of Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park and can be accessed via the Lumpy Ridge trailhead. The hike itself is about 3.5 miles roundtrip and features panoramic mountain views, wildflowers, aspens galore, and unique rock formations, including one known as Paul Bunyan's Boot. Gem Lake, the trek's namesake, is a small basin consisting of rain water and snow melt boarded by a rocky granite backdrop. The lake was frozen solid when we went and colored the prettiest shade of baby blue.
Before heading for the airport , we stopped at Estes Park Pie Shop, and could not recommend it more. You can’t miss their shop when leaving, because they have a huge sign that reads “You Need Pie.” Trust us, that sign isn't lying you really do need pie to refuel after your hike.
Q & A
What would you have changed?Our Colorado 4 day itinerary was packed but we would have loved to spend more time exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. Only being able to fit in one hike just was not enough
Tips you would give a friend?Colorado is such a diverse state with regard to its nature and geography. So to make the most of your trip, do not only stay in one city; rent a car and explore as much of Colorful Colorado as you can!
Packing tips?Do not underestimate the importance of layers! Colorado's weather can change drastically in the span of an hour or two, so if you are planning to be out and about all day, layer up!
Transportation Tips?There is so much to see in Colorado, we highly recommend renting a car so you can road trip around the entire state.
Any surprises?We were surprised at the amount of mule deer that we encountered all across the state, and by how unafraid of people they were.