Colorado is a massive state and also hailed as one of the most visually stunning destinations in the country. While it's not seaside views or rolling meadows that give this state its landscape, it's a collection of breathtaking geological features that have gained it so many admirers. With an increased interest in the U.S.'s most picturesque landmarks, it's not surprising that Colorado still stands as one of the most attractive states in the country - and its laid-back atmosphere doesn't hurt any, either.
Most people start their Colorado trips in Denver, the city that has it all. But what if you want to add more to your itinerary? If you've got a car, these destinations are not far from your reach if you don't mind the road trip.
Fort Collins: 1.5 Hours
Fort Collins is a nice alternative to some of the more crowded Colorado towns, and it's only an hour and a half drive out of Denver. While Boulder is closer with only a 45- minute drive, Fort Collins offers a unique, quirky atmosphere that the others don't.
This town is known for being the 'Napa Valley of Beer' according to Thrillist, and it also happens to be the home of New Belgium, which is a beloved brewery nationwide. Even if craft beer isn't of interest, there are so many great restaurants and bars that line the streets of Fort Collins that boredom won't even be a word in your vocabulary.
Rocky Mountain National Park: 1.5 Hours
The entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park sits only 66 miles from the great city of Denver, and an hour and a half drive is a small price to pay for one of the most beautiful parks in the country.
It's also the most popular but with 335 miles of hiking trails to choose from, chances are that you won't even notice the crowds much. This is also where well-seasoning hikers tackle Colorados 14ers - the state's highest peaks all reaching above 14,000 feet in elevation. Even without climbing great heights, though, the park itself is truly a sight to behold at least once.
Garden Of The Gods: 1.5 Hours
If you're down to add only two miles to that same distance in the opposite direction, you'll find the Garden of the Gods. This is the same mountainous landscape that inspired 'America the Beautiful' and it's easy to see how.
This park is free to visit which makes it a great day trip well spent for those looking to stay on budget, and it's the perfect place to scope out the red rocks the state is known for. The drive to and through the park is just as scenic so if you're not keen on hiking or horseback riding, it's worth it just to cruise.
Maroon Bells: 3.5 Hours
Maroon Bells is an iconic destination in Colorado and it's probably one of the most well-photographed, as well. It's easily recognizable by the lake that sits at the base of both Maroon and North Maroon Peaks, which shows their perfect mountain reflections, creating somewhat of an illusion when seen on a clear, sunny day.
According to Thrillist, these are the most photographed mountains in the country. These snowcapped mountains are also two more of the state's 14ers, so visitors take the view from the bottom and the top.
Colorado National Monument: 4.5 Hours
As we start to include more of Colorado's most iconic destinations, the drive spans a bit longer - it is the country's eighth-largest state, after all. A long drive shouldn't deter anyone, though, considering how scenic the time spent on the road will be.
That's the case with the Colorado National Monument, which also borders Utah, another state that's iconic with its landscape. It's the most popular spot for campers but it's also great for avid hikers, and those who don't enjoy any of the above can take in the view from the drive at the upper rim of the canyon.
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison: 5 Hours
For those wishing to avoid crowds at all costs, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is worth the five-hour drive it takes to get there. It's the least visited park in all of the state, which is really quite surprising considering the tremendous views that visitors have upon getting there.
The Gunnison River is responsible for carving out these incredible cliffs, with the river running steadily (far, far) down below. The height reaches roughly 2,000 feet on either side, making for a humbling sight, especially for those who choose to hike on either rim.
Telluride: 6.5 Hours
No Colorado trip is ever complete without visiting at least one of Mother Nature's most dramatic landscapes and Telluride, according to Thrillist, is the most beautiful mountain town in the world, let alone in the U.S.
Driving into this town is awe-inspiring, and so is having the chance to experience its mountain views from the ski gondola, which runs year-round. If there's anything in the country worth driving six hours for, it's the trip from Denver to Telluride.