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Explore 4 National Parks in Colorado

Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Rocky Mountains & Great Sand Dunes

You’ll find something to enjoy at the four national parks in Colorado regardless of your interests or what you love about the outdoors. From wildlife to miles of trails for hiking to prehistoric marvels, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

National Parks In Colorado

Colorado is home to 4 breathtaking national parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Though each one of these 4 Colorado national parks are home to astounding scenery, their diversity is what makes them truly special. Let’s explore these four national parks in Colorado and see what makes each one unique.

Rocky Mountain National Park

The Rocky Mountain National Park spans 415 square miles and features more than 300 miles of hiking trails. This means there are hundreds of ways to enjoy wildflowers, alpine views, and starry nights from this pristine park. The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the highest peaks in the U.S. Mount Elbert in the Sawatch Range reaches a massive 14,400 feet, which means you’ll feel like you’re on top of the work if you make it to the crest.

Things To Do In The Rockies

Hiking and mountain climbing are the biggest draws to the RMNP, but they definitely aren’t the only things to enjoy in this breathtaking park. Other things to enjoy in the Rocky Mountain National Park include sightseeing by car along Trail Ridge Road, visiting beautiful Estes Park, Bear Lake, and the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Rocky Mountain National Park is located between Grand Lake and Estes Park, Colorado. Durango, CO, is about 370 miles from the park.

Mesa Verde National Park

Visiting Mesa Verde National Park is like taking a giant leap back into ancient history and it’s right here in Colorado. This national treasure is home to many distinctive Ancestral Puebloan dwellings dating back more than 700 years. These ancient adobe-constructed homes are both well-preserved and well-studiedm, making Mesa Verde National Park a great destination for history lovers.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde Tours

If you’re up for adventure, consider taking the park’s hour-long walking tour of Cliff Palace. You’ll find that Cliff Palace is the largest and grandest of the hundreds of dwellings in the park. The walking tour will take you up a 100-foot ascent over historic steps, as well as up a series of 8-foot ladders required to see his renowned site.

Mesa Verde Tours

Things To Do In Mesa Verde

Cliff Palace isn’t the only thing to do or see at Mesa Verde National Park. Other things to enjoy in and around the park include hiking Knife Edge Trail with views of Montezuma Valley, driving on the San Juan Skyway, known as the most beautiful drive in America, viewing exhibits at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum to learn more about Ancestral Pueblo culture, seeing ancient petroglyphs, and enjoying vistas from the Chapin Mesa Trailheads.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Want to explore a sandbox of epic proportions? Consider planning a visit to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. This park covers 30-square miles and features sand dunes topping 750 feet. What are the most popular things to do at Great Sand Dunes National Park? Sand sledding and sand boarding. You’ll find that this national park is one of the only destinations in the U.S. where visitors can slide down peaks of golden brown sands for an unmatched adrenaline rush.

Things To Do In The Sand Dunes

You’ll definitely feel the burn in your calves as you trek up the sand to the top for another slip-and-slide down. Other things to enjoy at Great Sand Dunes National Park include backpacking along the foothills of the Sand Ramp Trail, camping at the National Park Service-run Pinon Flats Campground, and seeing the stars at the summer astronomy programs offered by Park Rangers. You’ll also find Ranger-led walks and hikes, great picnic spots, and a scenic drive just for 4-wheel-drive vehicles.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Geologists love Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The walls of this steep canyon are made up of Precambrian schist and gneiss. In layman’s terms? This means the canyon was formed 2 million years ago when volcanic island arcs collided and the Gunnison River was left to carve the canyton. Pretty impressive history for a land-locked state like Colorado! The park’s namesake canyon is steep, dark, and narrow. The Gunnison River lies at the bottom of the canyon and is home to some of the most impressive fishing in Colorado.

The Gunnison River

In fact, Gunnison River is designated as a Gold Medal and Wild Trout Water, which means it has been proven as a great place for angling large fish. Other things to enjoy at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park include scenic and challenging hiking trails along the North and South rims of the canyon, rock climbing (for experienced climbers) within the canyon, and scenic car tours along the rims of the canyon and to the rivers. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located about 120 miles north of Durango, CO.

Plan Your Next Colorado National Park Adventure

The national parks in Colorado make the Centennial State a stand-out destination for adventure and exploration. With 3 of the 4 Colorado national parks within a 165-mile drive of Durango, you might find that this historic Four Corners city is the perfect place for a homebase for Southwest quest. Explore Durango vacation rentals and much more to make the most of your time in the mountains!

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