Colorado Travel Tips
Whether you’re a nature lover or culture aficionado, there is always something to do in Colorado. The city boasts the most stunning views in America as it’s nestled up to the cliffs and mountains. Colorado is a beautiful state filled with numerous sights and adventures. There are a number of city parks, some of which are very different from the types of parks you are used too. You would be forgiven for thinking you’re in a reserve of some sort. With all the beauty that beckons outside, you really can’t afford to stay indoors. Not even for a minute!
When is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Colorado?
Typically, the Winter is when most tourists plan trips to Colorado; during ski season. Prices are at a premium, but snowboarders and skiers love the fresh power during the day and a thriving nightlife scene in the evening. Winter in Colorado means cold weather, so bundle up accordingly and prepare for the occasional snowstorm. However, Colorado is still a great travel destination during summer too. In fact, tourists who visit Colorado outside of ski season will find lower hotel and flight rates. The summers in Colorado are beautiful, the weather is warm and dry and in the fall, and you can watch the leaves change.
Here are eight outdoor activities you must not miss on your visit to Colorado.
Pikes Peak: Drive, Hike or Train ride
America’s mountain as it’s popularly known stands a proud 8000 feet above Colorado Springs. The summit has been a tourist site, attracting thousands of visitors for as long as anyone can remember. The views from the mountain are nothing short of breathtaking. It is, in fact, the inspiration behind Katherine Lee Bates’ ode to America ‘America the beautiful.’ You would not be visiting alone as thousands of tourists find the adventure irresistible every year.
You have a plethora of options about how you choose to reach the summit, and you most definitely must go all the way to enjoy the stunning views. If you are a lover of adventure and are not afraid of heights, driving or hiking would be the best option for you. If you are faint hearted or in love with history, the train ride is always there to the rescue. The trip takes about 3 hours and there’s an audio guide that would take you the history and significance of the Pikes Peak. Once you get up there, you would agree the beauty the top beholds is worth whatever stress you went through before getting there.
Downhill Mountain Biking at the Winter Park
If you are looking for the best downhill mountain biking experience in Colorado, look no further than the Winter Park. The Trestle Bike Park boasts more than 40 miles of various trails for bikers with different abilities. There are the easy and smooth trails for the novices and the huge jumps are also available for the experienced bikers. Numerous bailout routes are also available for bikers that get let down by their strength or courage along the way. If you have the heart to go all the way, you would surely find the hardest trails as challenging as they come, with wooden planks suspended like bridges and tall jumps that are set up to challenge your courage.
North Cheyenne Canon Park: Enjoying the wild
This park is an almost endless expanse of land located beneath a one thousand foot deep canyon. There is a wide array of wildlife around, and you could get to see animals like deer, black bears and mountain lions in all their glory. If you are around during the summer, you could test your swimming skills at some portions of the North Cheyenne Creek. There are also miles of hiking trails for your hiking pleasure. This park offers everything you want in a park, and you could end up spending more than a day.
The Taylor River: Fishing the waters
There is a portion of the Taylor River that is particularly famous as a hangout spot for anglers. The Hog Trough attracts a lot of crowds, and you would have to be at the top of your game if you want to go home with a trophy. Some anglers even joke that the fish in these waters have become wiser as they have become increasingly difficult to fool. Your technique has to be flawless, and your equipment has to be super-sensitive if you want to enjoy any success here. The adventure is always worth it, though.
If you are not one for the crowd, there is another fishing zone downstream the Hog Trough. You’ll enjoy some solitude and probably a higher chance of catching the prize.
Before we continue with the sights, let’s take a break to discuss some of the travel documents you’ll need when traveling to Colorado.
- Passport: Virtually every air traveler coming into the United States would need to show a passport before they can be admitted. You should have at least one consecutive blank page on your passport so as to give room for visas and stamps that are required to appear together. Endeavor to check that you are traveling at least 6 months prior to the expiration date on your passport.
- Visas: You would need a visa if your country is not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the USA or if you would be staying for more than 90 days. For information about countries eligible for the VWP, please visit consult http://travel.state.gov/visa.
- Insurance: You would also need a visitor Insurance package that provides health, accidents, and travel insurance coverage.
- ESTA form: The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a form that determines the eligibility of a visitor to the United States to travel under the VWP.
How does the ESTA differ from other USA visas?
The ESTA is not a Visa. An approved ESTA does not qualify a visitor for admission into the United States by the Customs agency. It only determines the eligibility of such person for the VWP. If you have a valid visa, you do not need to apply for an ESTA. And if your country is not on the list of countries eligible for the VWP, you need not apply for an ESTA.
Now let’s get back to the activities.
Steamboat Springs: Ballooning
Observing from high up is probably the best way to marvel at the wonders of nature in the shape of Colorado’s vast mountains and endless valleys. Steamboat springs afford tourists this opportunity as the gentle currents around the springs makes it ideal to board a balloon. The balloons launch in the early hours before the winds resume their duty, and passengers get to see cattle grazing, the Yampa River and very high peaks from a good vantage point.
Mesa Verde National Park: Hiking
The Mesa Verde National Park is another hub of adventure that depicts the activities of the earliest inhabitants of America. There are more than 5000 archeological sites that are open to tourists. If you are paying for the guided tour, you’ll be climbing ladders and crawling through tunnels in a bid to reach the Balcony House and Cliff Palace. There are other points where you can freely explore without a tour guide. The Nordenskiold Site 16 is one of such points, and you’ll have all the time in the world to take in the vintage paintings and ruins.
Red Rock Canyon: Hiking or Biking
You’ll be having a close look at the rosy red rocks of Colorado Springs via any of the numerous hiking or biking trails that have served tourists for many years. Along the trail is the Red Rock Canyon, one of America’s historic sites. The Canyon has served numerous purposes over the years. It was owned by the Bock family sometimes during the 20th century, and history has it they had grand plans. ns to transform the location into the complete vacation haven. The Canyon is now state-owned, and they have created even more biking and hiking trails for the pleasure of the numerous tourists that troop in every year. The Canyon also has an open-air pavilion that may be used for live performances or movie screenings.
Manitou Springs: A lazy stroll and arcade gaming
Although the place is not exactly part of Colorado, it sure is a great place to be, and it is only about 6 miles away. At the Manitou Springs, vintage beauty awaits as you would see an American district that has somehow rejected urbanization. Now a National Historic District, the springs is another tourist haven saturated with outdoor cafes, vintage boutiques, and art galleries.
You should spend some hours merely lazing about and appreciating what it’s like to be an American in the early 20th Century. There are more than 250 old-fashioned gaming machines you can toy with. They are the type you would easily term outdated but they are sure to take you down memory lane and all of them still cost just a penny!
Important Tips for Travelers
Travelers within the USA
Colorado has the highest altitudes in the USA so you may need some time to adjust to the very high points. You may experience altitude sickness, characterized by headaches and nausea in the early periods of your stay. You should consider staying in Denver first before going up to the mountains. You’ll be afforded some time to get used to the high altitude over there. The weather is as unpredictable as they come. So, pack clothing that would be suitable for the hot and cold weather. You should limit smoking and alcohol consumption in the days preceding your trip. You may also need to bring sunscreen along to manage the increasing exposure to sunlight.
- Best time to visit: the days between March and May as well as September till October are regarded as the best time to visit. The weather is usually cool during these periods (although it’s unpredictable) and the sites are less crowded.
- Weather: Colorado weather is nothing but unpredictable. The high altitude and rocky mountains make for fast-changing climate, and you would be surprised at how fast cold mornings could turn into boiling afternoons. Prepare for all kinds of weather and dress in layers. Staying hydrated is also all important, especially during hikes and tours.
- Alcohol consumption: the legal age for drinking is 21 years old and drinking in public is illegal. Bars follow this rule strictly and you may be asked to provide identification.
- Driving: Unleaded fuel is from the black pump in the US while Diesel petrol is from the green pump. This is a reverse of what obtains in Europe. So, you should be careful when refueling your car. Speed limits are lower, and at crossroads where there are no lights, the driver that gets there crosses first.
- Safety tip: The Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card costs are just $3. Buy one on getting into Colorado as it supports local search and rescue operations and also ensures professional search and rescue teams would respond to your distress call should you become lost or in danger
- Smoking: Cannabis is legal in Colorado, but there are a number of laws guiding the possession and smoking. Get up to speed with the laws to ensure you are not caught on the erring side. Importantly, marijuana remains illegal under the Federal law so do not think about taking it to a Federal land such as a National historic site or park.
- Spending and changing money: there is an exchange point at the Denver International Airport and some other exchange offices can be found in the city. You could also use your American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Discover credit cards. There are cash machines all over the city if you want to make a withdrawal.
Colorado is unarguably one of the best places to visit in the United States. As you would agree already, there is so much life outdoors and you cannot afford to spend too much time in your room. Move out, lose yourself and enjoy the beauty of nature and the vibes of the people.