Getty Images/Flickr Open

Southwest Colorado

This is Colorado at its best. There are mesas and vineyards out west, and massive snowcapped mountain ranges and wide open alpine meadows filled with wildflowers in the summer as you move up to higher ground in the central part of the state.

By foot, by mountain bike, by raft, by ski and by train, this region offers adventures large and small. Two crown jewels perfect for family vacations are the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, with its vertigo-inducing drops, and Mesa Verde National Park, which preserves cliff-dwellings from the Ancestral Pueblo people. There are a number of ski areas worth visiting here; Crested Butte is one of the state's best expert resorts while Telluride appeals to the 'in' crowd.

The real draw, however, might be the area's sheer remoteness. This is cowboy country, and the open vistas and independent spirit that brought frontiers people here a hundred years ago still rings true today.

Explore Southwest Colorado



Learn more about Southwest Colorado

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.