The Wildlife Experience
Take a day to play at The Wildlife Experience museum in Parker, which combines interactive exhibits, large format film, fine art and natural history. You won’t want to miss their newest exhibit, “Globeology,” with more than 25,000 square feet of interactive exhibits exploring seven different biomes from around the world. The new exhibit opens May 23. thewildlifeexperience.org
A childhood classic. elitchgardens.com
Colorado Rockies Game:
Take them out to the ballgame this summer and see if the Rockies can recover from last season. rockies.mlb.com
Mesa Verde National Park
Spend a weekend exploring the legacy of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the canyons of Mesa Verde National Park from 600 to 1300 AD. The park is home to more than 600 cliff dwellings, and ranger-led tours provide an up-close and personal view of some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States. Take part of a day to visit Yucca House National Monument, just 10 miles from Mesa Verde, and explore the unexcavated community center of the Ancestral Puebloans. Another easy site to add is Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, with the Anasazi Heritage Center archeology museum displaying Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and the Lowry Pueblo’s 40 rooms and eight kivas. visitmesaverde.com
Visit Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (glenwoodcaverns.com); relax in the springs while your kids enjoy the slide; and hit up Zip Adventures on your way back (zipadventures.com) for a high-flying good time.
Great Sand Dunes National Park:
Remember how much fun you had playing in the sand box…This is kind of like that, but way bigger and better. Camp, hike and get dirty.
Tour Colorado’s National Parks and Monuments
For an unforgettable family vacation, take a week to explore Colorado’s national parks. Start in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to get an official park map, log book and park newspaper. Find a campground and then choose from numerous hikes, drives, wildlife viewing, programs and more. Then take Trail Ridge Road to the south entrance of the park and follow Highway 40 west across the state to Dinosaur National Monument near the Utah border. Schedule a river-rafting trip through the canyons of the monument. Be sure to stop at the Quarry Visitor Center and take the Fossil Discovery Hike (approx. 1.5 miles) to see a variety of fossils.
Once you have your fill of fossils, take Highway 64 south to Highway 139 south until you reach the Colorado National Monument. The drive on Monument Road is a beautiful and easy way to see the park. Trails ranging from easy to hard are accessible all along the road with spectacular views, your reward for a little walking. Spend the night in Grand Junction. From Grand Junction, take Highway 65 south to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to experience an entirely unique landscape with walls that drop more than 2,000 feet and show some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth, dating back nearly 2 billion years. Hiking in the canyon is popular, and ranger-led tours can teach you all about the area’s history, flora and fauna. River rafting, guided boat tours and horseback riding are also available.
End your Colorado grand tour by taking the family to the biggest sand box they’ve ever seen. The sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park are the tallest in North America and offer opportunities for hiking, sledding, skiing and “sand boarding.” In the spring, Medano Creek creates a wide, shallow stream at the base of the dunes, creating Colorado’s most unique beach. The water peaks in mid- to late-May and shrinks back toward the mountains through July. nps.gov
America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass—Annual Pass, cost $80
Colorado State Fair:
Aug. 24–Sept. 1. More than a rodeo, the state fair serves up all sorts of fun. This year, Foreigner headlines…need we say more? coloradostatefair.com
There are tons to pick from in Colorado. Visit coloradoranch.com for details. Or see our Wyoming Guide to get advice from a real, live dude rancher.