The San Luis Valley is a study in contrasts, evident in the 7,000-foot elevation gain from the low-lying valley floor to 14,345-foot Blanca Peak. The Great Sand Dunes are reminiscent of the Sahara Desert. Fourteen-thousand-foot peaks, the spire-like Crestone Needle, and its neighbor Crestone Peak - pride of the Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Christ") Range - are the natural landmarks for the valley's eastern boundary.
At the northern end of the area are the Valley View Hot Springs, which harness some of the steaming water that pours from the ground. In Crested Butte, trails set out into the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness from the vicinity of Gothic and Schofield Pass. Short day hikes into the alpine meadows are one option. Or, those seeking a longer experience can hike the 13 miles over spectacular East Maroon Pass on into Aspen.
The state that brings you Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, and Telluride is renowned for its skiing and snowboarding. Justly so. Colorado has a greater number of ski resorts and areas than almost any other US state or Canadian province. In all, you can ski at two dozen places that vary in size, from giants like the Aspen complex to rustic alpine Loveland Basin. Non-skiers find activities at the Colorado resorts as well.
Experts have counted some 200 species of wildlife in the Rocky Mountain National Park. More than 400 miles of trails, many of them gentle, others challenging, provide hikes to beautiful alpine mountain lakes surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
No visitor to this part of Colorado should miss Rocky Mountain National Park. Its 300,000 acres are filled by stunning mountain views and, thanks to the Park Service, remain largely in their natural state. Nearby is Steamboat Springs. Summers here guarantee you an adrenaline rush.
Where to stay, where to eat, how to get around, what to do - we cover it all in detail.
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Why take your next vacation in Colorado?