Spectacular vistas, endless powder runs and mountain towns with echoes of the Old West. Colorado is a place that has forever beckoned people to adventure.
With heavy snowfalls and light powder, the long winters of the Colorado high country are the stuff of legend. Hares and mountain lions leave white tracks, boarders and skiers weave through pine forests and open bowls, and hearth fires roar in mountain lodges. With the longest ski run in the USA (Vail), some of the highest snowfall (Wolf Creek), and legendary ski-parking-lot BBQs (Arapahoe Basin), Colorado may have the best downhill skiing on earth. Remarkable cross-country and backcountry terrain bring a whole other dimension to winter – one where lift lines don't exist. If you're among the hard core, you can make turns from Halloween until early June. Iconic resorts like Aspen, Vail and Telluride attract visitors in droves, and after the last lift, parties kick into gear.
More than Mountains
In the hulking shadow of the Rockies, Colorado's urban culture is vibrant and progressive. Industries like high tech, communications and education propel a robust economy. Former cow town Denver boasts iconic sports arenas, a revitalized downtown and plenty of bike routes, breweries and hipster hangouts. Nearby university towns of Boulder and Fort Collins pair stunning natural settings with progressive vibes. Even Aspen is known almost as much for its summer music festival and think-tank intellect as its adventure opportunities. South of the Arkansas River, Colorado was once Mexico, and pockets of Hispanic culture still thrive. Native American culture persists in the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Indian Reservations in southwest Colorado.
Why I Love Colorado
By Carolyn McCarthy, Author
At 17 I went to college in Colorado and spent my first break stuck in a blizzard with a dozen other classmates, our tents pitched at 12,000ft. We never did summit Crestone Peak, but later hiked out under banner blue skies and outrageous alpine scenery. I stayed for over a decade and keep returning. You could say Colorado was my education – in hiking, river running and just plain living well. With so many sunny days and the Rockies as your backyard, it takes all of us one step closer to the natural world.
The best known of the Rocky Mountain states, with the highest concentration of peaks above 14,000ft, Colorado owes its public adoration to the mountainous backbone that rises and rolls from the Front Range westward. But there are also mesas, desert canyons and sagebrush hills. Some 300-plus sunny days per year contribute to hiking, biking, river running and rock climbing that's unrivaled anywhere in the US West. Even during the peak summer season, when millions of tourists flood the state, visitors can still find solitude at a remote mountain lake or meadow, or atop a craggy summit. In Rocky Mountain National Park, the state’s premier attraction, there are dozens of backcountry hikes and campsites that see few visitors – unless you count that moose or family of foxes that wandered by.