As the eighth-largest state in the US in terms of landmass, getting around Colorado requires a bit of preplanning to allow travelers to fully embrace all it has to offer.

While cities like Denver and Boulder are very well served by public transport options, having a car will help you to reach the Rocky Mountain state's deserts, canyons, national parks and mountain towns. If you're planning a trip there, here are the best ways to get around Colorado.

Introducing Colorado's National Parks


The main bus service within the region is Greyhound, with a network of fixed routes and its own terminal in most central cities. The company has an excellent safety record, and the buses are comfortable and usually run on time. Greyhound tickets can be bought over the phone or online with a credit card and mailed if purchased 10 days in advance, or picked up at the terminal with proper identification. It is prudent to note that discounts apply to tickets purchased 14 or 21 days in advance.

Some regional parts of Colorado are poorly serviced by buses. Exceptions are RTD (Denver and Boulder areas), Summit County's Summit Stage, ECO Transit (Eagle County) and Roaring Fork Transportation (around Aspen). Epic Mountain Express provides a shuttle service from airports to many ski resort destinations, and the Flatiron Flyer rapid-transit bus connects Denver and Boulder. Flex is a regional bus route between Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Boulder, while Gunnison Valley RTA runs between Denver, Fairplay, Buena Vista, Salida, Pueblo and Gunnison. Then there's the Prospector, which connects Idaho Springs and Georgetown.


Rail service within Colorado is very limited beyond the interstate options. The RTD rail system operates in Denver with light and commuter rail lines to more than 50 stations throughout the metro area and surrounding Denver, including Boulder, Longmont, Aurora, Littleton, Lakewood, Golden and Arvada. It also runs from Denver International Airport to downtown.

Bustang connects Denver, Colorado Springs, Loveland, Fort Collins, Idaho Springs, Frisco, Vail, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park (summer only) and more. Bustang Outlander's four lines connect Lamar, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Cañon City, Salida, Durango, Grand Junction, Cortez, Montrose, Telluride, Gunnison, Buena Vista and Denver.

Scenic tourist trains include the Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad in southern Colorado, the Georgetown Loop, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad from Antonito to Chama in New Mexico, Amtrak rides between Denver and Winter Park and up to Glenwood Springs, and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs. Although they are tourist trains, the Durango and Cumbres lines allow hikers and anglers access to wilderness areas.

Travel between Colorado and Utah in a glass-domed train

The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway traveling through Pikes Peak in Colorado
Travelers can take a picturesque trip through Pikes Peak © The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Car and Motorbike

One of the great ways to experience Colorado is to drive its roads and byways by car and motorbike. The road conditions are generally very good and it’s always rewarding when you point the car down an unknown back road just to see where it goes. Good maps and road atlases are sold everywhere.

The penchant Coloradans have for monster SUVs and mega motorhomes can be a little intimidating when you’re putt-putting up a steep mountain road in your clapped-out compact rental car. But fellow drivers are courteous and generous with their friendly conversation at roadside diners and gas stations – ‘Where you headed?’ is a common opener. Tuning into local radio stations along the way is part of the immersive cultural experience.

Car and Scooter Rental

The Colorado rental-car market is crowded and competitive, which means you can get some good deals, especially if you hire for a week or more. With advance reservations for a small car, the daily rate with unlimited mileage is about $30 to $40; typical weekly rates are $150 to $200. Rates for midsize cars may be a tad higher. Car rental companies operating in Colorado include Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty.

Ask about any extra surcharges, such as fees for one-way rental and additional drivers, as well as age limits. Some companies won’t rent vehicles to people without a major credit card; others require things such as prepayment or cash deposits. Booking can be secured with a credit card and then paid by cash or debit card.

Car-rental companies always offer extra insurance, but if you’re adequately covered under a travel-insurance policy or your credit card offers its own for rentals then don’t be fooled by the compelling sales pitch. Basic liability insurance is required by law and included in the basic rental price. Check with your insurance company regarding any extended coverage. Many rental agencies stipulate that damage a car suffers while being driven on unpaved roads is not covered by the insurance they offer.

Those who fancy zipping around Denver on a motorized scooter or moped can hire one from Scootours Denver.

Tip for renting a car: You can often snag great last-minute deals via the internet. Renting in conjunction with an airplane ticket often yields better rates, too. Try some of the booking consolidator websites.

Introducing Colorado

Taxi and Car-Share

Uber and Lyft operate in most of Colorado's larger towns and all the resort areas. Two major taxi companies, Metro Taxi and Yellow Cab offer door-to-door service in Denver, and there are a few car-share programs there, including Zipcar.


Cycling is a cheap, convenient, healthy, environmentally sound – and above all, fun – way of traveling. In Colorado, because of altitude, distance and heat, it’s also a good workout. Cycling has increased in popularity so much in recent years that concerns have risen over damage to the environment, especially from unchecked mountain biking. Know your environment and regulations before you ride. Bikes are restricted from entering wilderness areas and some designated trails, but may be used in National Park Service sites, state parks, national and state forests and Bureau of Land Management singletrack trails.

City and long-haul buses and trains can carry bikes, and in the mountains, shuttles are fitted with racks for skis in winter and mountain bikes in summer. Rental bicycles are widely available, and Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs have bike-share programs. In Colorado’s legendary mountain-biking regions,the range of rental options can be bewilderingly comprehensive. Hard-tail mountain bikes rent for around $35 a day while fancy full-suspension rentals go for more like $75.

Bicycles are generally prohibited on interstate highways if there is a frontage road. However, where a suitable frontage road or other alternative is lacking, cyclists are permitted on some interstates. Denver, Boulder and Summit County have some of the country's most comprehensive off-road paved trail systems.

Young couple with urban bicycle in city park in Denver.
Cycling is a great way to explore Colorado © Daniel Bendjy / Getty Images


Hitchhiking is pretty easy in Colorado. You cannot thumb for rides directly on the interstate, but will instead need to wait on the on-ramp. Pedestrians on the highway must walk in the opposite direction of traffic. Hitchhiking is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Travelers who hitch should understand that they are taking a small, but potentially serious, risk.

Transport Passes

RTD has designed a variety of passes that can save travelers time and money on its bus and rail services, which serve Denver metro area and the six surrounding counties. The Local Day Pass covers train travel in one or two fare zones and local/limited bus routes and costs $6 for adults. The Regional Day Pass costs $10.50 for an adult ticket, and covers travel in three fare zones, regional bus routes, regional SkyRide bus service, and bus and train travel to/from Denver International Airport.

The Local Monthly Pass costs $114, while the Regional Monthly Pass costs $200 for adults and they cover the same areas as the day passes. All of these passes are offered at half-price to seniors, people with disabilities, Medicare recipients, and those enrolled in RTD's LiVE program. Youth fares offering over two-thirds off the price also apply to those aged 6-19, and up to three children aged 5 and younger ride free with a fare-paying adult. Active duty members of the US military ride for free on all RTD services.

Top 21 things to do in Denver

Accessible travel in Colorado

Travel within Colorado is getting easier for people with disabilities, but it’s still not easy. Public transportation services are required to be made accessible to all, and buses in the cities have lifts. Curb ramps are common and many busy intersections have audible crossing signals.

RTD's Access-a-Ride provides travel options for people with disabilities in Colorado. It provides local bus transportation in the Denver metro area, and helps individuals who cannot access fixed-route bus and train systems to maintain their freedom to travel around the metro area. Travelers with disabilities can ride Greyhound and Amtrak without notification ahead of time, although Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition still advises advanced ticket purchases.

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