Summer (for school holidays and swimming in marginally less cold
glacial lakes) and winter (for skiing in two of North America's
best resorts) may be the most popular times to visit, but an autumn
colour palette to rival New England's and some of the prettiest
spring-time vistas we know make this a road trip-worthy destination
at almost any time of year.
Most Colorado holidays start in Denver. Once no more than a city
with a handily located international airport, the so-called Mile
High City has since become a must-visit urban centre with strong
neighbourhood identities. As a beginner's guide, bearded and
man-bunned hipsters tend to congregate in RiNo (River North), while
Denver's well-heeled residents head to LoDo (Lower Downtown) for
fancy restaurants and cocktail bars. There is also a thriving arts
scene and some excellent museums.
To the west of Colorado are the Rocky Mountains, which run 3,000
miles all the way from British Columbia to New Mexico. For much of
the year, the mountains lie under a thick carpet of snow and play
host to America's most luxurious ski resorts, Aspen and Vail. The
two towns are home to icing sugar-soft powder and sky the colour of
a Bombay Sapphire bottle, not to mention pistes for skiers of all
abilities (even those who ditch the skis after one run and pick up
a toboggan instead) and some seriously swanky apres-ski action.
Serious backcountry (off piste in US skiing parlance) skiers can
take on pine-forest pistes, open bowls and World Cup training runs,
not to mention epic cross-country and heli-skiing options.
Non-skiers can indulge in spa treatment and scrumptious food to
their hearts' content.
Come late spring and summer, the Rocky Mountains become a sea of
wildflower meadows peppered with Gold Rush ghost mines and
one-horse towns where the Stars and Stripes flutters in every front
garden. A Colorado road trip taking in Gold Rush settlements -
Dunton Hot Springs is our favourite - and the towns where Butch
Cassidy and his crew kicked off their criminal campaign are a must,
and there are also plenty of adventures - from white-water rafting
to tree-top rollercoasters - on offer.
A few hundred miles further south, Mesa Verde National Park's
cliff dwellings are shrouded in mystery. No one knows what made
Colorado's first inhabitants disappear some 700 years ago, but
visitors will certainly enjoy clambering up and down ladders,
exploring the elaborate cliff-dwellings with national park rangers
(we'd arrange this in advance) and delving into the mysteries of
ancient America through rock art and archaeological sites.