From Rocky Mountain to Mesa Verde, here are some amazing national parks in Colorado.
National parks in Colorado are known for their year-round allure and abundance of activities. With a diverse landscape and open area, Colorado has 11 whole national parks just in itself–all with their own special charm. Here we have created a list of some of Colorado’s best and most unique national parks.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Located just 90 minutes outside of state capital Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses over 250,000 acres of beautiful mountainous scenery. There are over 300 miles of hiking trails to explore, providing opportunities to spot wildflowers, wildlife and pristine lakes.
Also not to be missed is Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous road in North America, which offers scenic viewpoints and plenty of photo-worthy locations. The park announced its highest ever visitation in 2018, receiving 4,590,492 visitors throughout the year, and making it one of the top three most visited national parks in the USA.
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Tucked away beneath the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado is the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The 40,000 acre park is home to the tallest sand dunes in the USA – the highest of which reaches an impressive 750 feet – resulted from thousands of years of sand travelling from mountain streams and playa lakes on the San Luis Valley floor.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve was recently awarded International Dark Sky Park status in recognition of the exceptional quality of its dark night skies and the park’s commitment to preserving and educating about the night sky.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Dramatic cliff faces etched with scratches and carvings make up Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, resulting from nearly two billion years of exposure. The park gets its name because of the steepness of the walls, which casts shadows over the rock and make it appear black.
There are a number of beautiful hiking trails to explore in and around the Black Canyon as well as opportunities for kayaking and rock climbing. In the South Rim, the Rim Rock Nature Trail offers a moderate hike – 1 mile round trip – or try the more strenous Oak Flat Loop Trail – a 2 miles round trip.
Mesa Verde National Park
Comprising 5,000 archaeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings, Mesa Verde National Park offers a spectacular insight into the history of southwest Colorado. Dating back to 7500BC, the Cliff Palace is the largest of the cliff dwellings and is where around 100 Ancestral Pueblo people once called home – visitors can take a guided tour which involves ascending 120 stone steps and five 8-10 foot ladders. This year, the park is hosting an Artist-In-Residence programme where local artists make practice their craft in the park. September will see writer/painter Linda Rose and weaver/textile artist Jaini Hadley take inspiration from the park for their creative medium.