Colorado is no stranger to variation – it’s almost a point of pride to people in the Centennial State that it can go from 70 degrees to a blizzard in less than 24 hours – and its landscape is no different. Here are five hikes that represent Colorado’s diverse scenery.
Instead of hiking downhill, why not sandboard? Essentially mountains made of sand, the Great Sand Dunes are the tallest dunes in North America. Take one of several trails at this picturesque national park and make your return trip by sandboard or sand sled (both available for rental).
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal has a unique past. The land and its habitat has transitioned from farmland to a war-time weapons manufacturing location to, now, a wildlife sanctuary. More than 10 miles of trails will take you through one of the largest urban refuges in the country. Expect to see everything from bald eagles to bison, with the skyline of Denver in the backdrop.
The view and vegetation at Hanging Lake is unlike any other in the state. Getting to this clear turquoise lake will take some trekking – the hike is steep and rocky, registering at about 2.4 miles roundtrip. Important reminder: Help protect this natural beauty by leaving Fido at home and staying on the trail at all times.
Dramatic rock formations can be found at the Paint Mines Park, located west of Colorado Springs. With Colorado’s grasslands in the background, hike around colorful geologic wonders for a one-of-a-kind Colorado experience.
Colorado isn’t all plains and evergreens – it’s also a high plains desert. Experience the beautiful, dusty desert life with a hike up Mt. Garfield. Don’t forget the sunblock for this one – desert landscapes have little shade.
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Photo credits: Great Sand Dunes National Park: National Parks Service; Rocky Mountain Arsenal: Oborseth via Wikimedia; Paint Mines: Mike Flynn; and Mount Garfield Trail: Jim Cox, JC Photography.