- Explore quiet winding roads, unspoilt wilderness, old mining towns and trendy resorts on this summer trip that perfectly blends culture and nature
- Top and tail your holiday in two bustling cosmopolitan hubs: Denver and Boulder
- Delve into the state’s fascinating history with visits to Gold Rush ghost towns, ancient Native American villages and interactive museums
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Your epic family adventure in Colorado starts today with a ten-hour direct flight to Denver, the state’s capital. A private driver will be waiting for you on arrival to whisk you off to your first accommodation: a charming hotel in a historic building, where you’ll be staying for the next three nights. This evening is yours to play with. We recommend simply kicking back, relaxing and enjoying the facilities at the hotel ready for two days of exploring ahead.
A true symbol of classic American life, Denver displays its array of scenic and cultural delights at an altitude of over 5,200ft and with the iconic Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. Born at the time of the Colorado Gold Rush, the city is now a hub of all things hip and trendy. You have two days here to discover everything there is to see. There’s the pedestrianised 16th Street, a vibrant neighbourhood of street art leading from the Capitol to LoDo (or Lower Downtown); the many boutiques and breweries in the Larimer Square district, the former heart of the city at the time of the Gold Rush; the superb Union Station, with its restaurants, galleries and micro-breweries; the Castle Rock Outlets, a Mecca for shopping enthusiasts; and a host of fantastic museums, including the interactive History Colorado Centre and the Denver Art Museum with its beautiful collection of Indian art. When you’re ready for a dose of nature, head to the Red Rocks Amphitheater, a natural amphitheatre dug into the rock which has hosted several major international artists.
VISIT HOT SPRINGS
It’s time to get some miles under your belt on this road trip. After breakfast this morning, collect your hire car and drive an hour-and-a-half south through rolling forested landscapes to Green Mountain, a charming town located at the base of Pikes Peak and surrounded by the National Forest of the same name. Along the way we recommend making a stop at the Garden of the Gods, a beautiful park situated between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, known and adored for its red sandstone formations, hiking trails and sacred sparkling water springs. You should also make sure not to miss the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile scenic route starting from the foot of Pikes Peak and leading to its summit via the Crystal Reservoir. On arrival in Green Mountain, check in for the night in a rustic inn and spend the rest of today enjoying your more rural surroundings.
JEEP RIDE IN A CLASSIC RANCH
Your adventure through Colorado continues today with a six-hour drive to Durango, a small city set in the dramatic mountains of the state’s southwestern corner. Six hours is quite the journey, so we’ve arranged for you to make a stop along the way for a guided Jeep ride through the grounds of the delightful Zapata Ranch, on the edge of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Located in an exceptional environment made up of vast prairies, alpine forests, swamps and sand dunes, the property is one of the most famous ranches in Colorado. This is also a great way to get a taste for authentic Western life and to spot some local residents, which includes bison and coyotes. On arrival in Durango, settle in for two nights in a charmingly old-world hotel in the heart of the city’s historic downtown.
VISIT ANCIENT NATIVE AMERICAN VILLAGES
Today is dedicated to admiring one of the most phenomenal sights in the region: the ancient Native American dwellings nestled in the cliffs of the Mesa Verde National Park. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the villages are among the most remarkable and best preserved relics of Native American life on the North American continent. The adobe structures date back to the early years of the second millennium, when nomadic peoples began seeking a more settled way of life. Once you’re back in the present day hustle and bustle of Durango this afternoon, make sure to stick in town to discover its many delights. One of its most famous attractions is its old steam train, which you can admire thundering in at the train station before strolling through the many galleries, antique shops and saloons of the town centre. If you fancy more of an outdoorsy afternoon, you could also opt to head out to the Animas River valley, a popular spot for canoeing, rafting and canyoning.
SCENIC DRIVE TO TELLURIDE
You’ve come about as far south as you can possibly come in Colorado, so today you’ll be hitting the road north on Highway 550 (one of the state’s most beautiful roads) to Telluride, a fashionable resort town in the heart of the Rockies. The journey takes around three hours, passing through the valley of the Animas River and skirting the San Juan National Forest, before climbing up into the mountains. The final part of the journey loops around the towering Mount Sneffels before dropping into Telluride, where you’ll check in for two nights in an elegant hotel at the foot of the ski lifts. You’ll then have the rest of today and tomorrow to explore in and around the town. You can admire the beautiful Victorian architecture of the historic downtown area, drive along the scenic San Juan Skyway, ride the ski lifts to impressive viewpoints and enjoy the many mountainous hiking trails.
SWAP RESORT TOWNS
Today you’ll be hitting the road again, swapping Telluride for the equally scenic and charming resort town of Crested Butte, a three-and-a-half hour drive away. There are several scenic spots along the way worth stopping at, including the high-altitude Blue Mesa Reservoir on the course of the Gunnison River and the spectacular Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, a deep gorge home to roads and trails offering breathtaking views. On arrival in Crested Butte, check in for the night in a cosy guesthouse and spend the rest of the day enjoying the gentle hum of activity in the centre of the picturesque Victorian downtown area.
JOURNEY TO EXCLUSIVE ASPEN
Your journey through some of Colorado’s most beautiful resort towns culminates today in none other than Aspen, one of the most stylish and exclusive holiday spots in all of North America. We recommend setting off this morning, as the drive can take a good five hours as it winds through the high mountain roads of the Rockies. On arrival in Aspen, check in for two nights in a superb hotel set slightly out of town, at the foot of the ski lifts. Once you’ve settled in and freshened up, head out for an evening of exploring. As you can imagine, everything here is geared towards luxury, with world-class restaurants, fashionable boutiques and swanky bars at every turn. Aspen is also a hot-spot for artsy festivals, so we recommend reaching out to our local Concierge this evening to check what’s going on during your time here.
THE ROCKIES LIKE A LOCAL
Rise and shine, you only have one full-day in beautiful Aspen and there’s not a moment to waste. For breakfast this morning, you’ll be heading out for a delicious meal based on organic ingredients with a local resident, who’ll be your insider guide for today. Once you’re fuelled up, you’ll head up the Independence Pass, one of the highest passes in the state of Colorado, only accessible via a paved road. From here you’ll embark on a hike (tailored to your abilities) along a mixture of trails offering panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. This is also a great opportunity to check out Independence, a fascinating ghost town of the Gold Rush era that has long since been abandoned.
HEAD DEEPER INTO THE MOUNTAINS
Today you’ll be embarking on another half-day drive, this time to Grand Lake, a delightful lakeside town and western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the way you can make a stop at Maroon Bells, one of the region’s most emblematic viewpoints and a hot-spot for photography enthusiasts. On arrival in Grand Lake, settle in for two nights in a historic hilltop lodge overlooking the village and lake. The rest of today is yours to play with. We recommend stretching your legs with a walk along the shoreline before enjoying a delicious meal in town.
HIKE IN THE HILLS
Covering an area of 670 square miles, the Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the highest mountains in America, as well as emerald forests, alpine lakes and diverse flora and fauna. The best way to soak in the magnitude of your surroundings is by heading onto one of the 350 hiking trails – our team can guide you through the different difficulty levels and find a route that’s best for you. It is also worth making a detour during your time here to the Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the United States.
After nearly two weeks of living in the lap of nature, it’s time to gently ease yourself back into urban settings with an overnight stay in Boulder, located two-and-a-half hours from Grand Lake. This peaceful small town combines cosmopolitan charm with beautiful nature, through its parks and cycle paths. You’ll be staying in a comfortable and contemporary motel in the city centre, close to universities and the lively Pearl Street, so once you’ve settled in and freshened up, make sure to head out to enjoy one last evening of wining and dining to celebrate your final night in Colorado.
Sadly, the time has come to bid farewell to the wild and wonderful mountainous landscapes of Colorado that you’ve come to know so well and embark on the journey home. Head one hour back to the airport in Denver, drop off your rental car and enjoy some down time in the airport lounge with some nibbles and refreshments after whizzing though security. Most direct flights back to the UK depart in the evening and take around ten hours, so you’ll spend tonight on board and touchdown tomorrow morning on home turf.
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