Colorado is well known as a winter destination. Many people may want to follow Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber into Aspen and experience one of the world’s best ski resorts, and who can blame them? The State though has plenty to offer year-round, and you can sample it all on this flexible fly-drive through the highlights. Start in the Mile High City of Denver before driving through several national parks – Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde amongst them. Experience quaint towns, including famous winter resorts Vail and Telluride that also offer fantastic summer adventures. See unique landscapes, stunning parks and towering mountains on this journey of memories.
Our expert tour specialists can tailor this trip to exactly meet your needs. We make the suggestions but the decision is yours
Travel from the UK to Denver. Choose from direct flights out of London Heathrow or fly from the regions via selected East Coast gateways. Upon arrival, collect your car and head to your hotel in the centre of The Mile High City.
A full day to explore this exceptional city. With a free shuttle bus and one of the most walkable downtowns in North America, you can easily explore the city centre at leisure. With site such as Union Station and the LoDo Historic District, downtown can easily fill up a day on its own. Other sites include the Colorado State Capitol, the US Mint and a wide selection of museums and art galleries. Restaurants, bars and craft breweries are abundant to make the most of your evening in the city while a wide range of shops can be found both downtown and at the famous Cherry Creek.
Drive distance – 65 miles
Hit the open road today and head north towards Rocky Mountain National Park. Travel through Boulder, just outside of Denver and well worth a stop on today’s short drive. Offering a pedestrianised central hub – the Peal Street Mall – it’s a great place for a stroll around the shops and a coffee or lunch break. Continue to Estes Park, base camp for the National Park and your overnight stop.
Drive distance – 160 miles
Today is all about driving through and experiencing this remarkable National Park. Elevations range from 8000 feet above to sea leave to over 14000 feet, offering some wonderful views and amazing sights. Drive today along Trail Ridge Road, which will take you up to over 12,000 feet and offers many viewing points to stop and admire the vast expanse of nature. Leave the park via the West End and head south towards Vail. Stops along the way can include picturesque Grand Lake and the impressive Green Mountain.
Take a day to enjoy the community of Vail. Famed for its winter sport, the resort is a great year-round destination. Venture to the top of the peaks via gondola, experience the rush of ziplines and a mountain coaster and more; there is plenty for the adrenaline junkie. If you prefer to keep your feet on the valley floor it’s explore world-class restaurants, shopping, cafes with plenty of nightlife to keep you entertained around the quaint pedestrianised centre of Vail Village.
Drive distance – 146 miles
Head out West, towards the state line with Utah today. If the mountain life of Vail has given you the bug, world famous Aspen is relatively short de tour off the I-70. If you don’t wish to travel out of you way too much, stop by at Hanging Lake Park and Lookout Mountain as you drive through Glenwood Canyon, alongside the mighty Colorado River. End your day in Grand Junction, in the heart of the state’s Wine Country, this small town offers plenty of options for dinner or if you wish to explore a little more, pass through the town and visit the Colorado National Monument, a little Grand Canyon of red rock formations, steep drop-offs and high vantage points, including the 23-mile Rimrock Drive.
Drive distance – 131 miles
Head south today, towards the mountain town of Telluride but take time to stop off en-route at The Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park, so-called as the deep sided canyons, carved out by the Gunnison River over millions of years, are often covered in shadows making them appear black. Take a scenic drive and if you have a head for heights, peer over the edge of the canyon to the river some 2000 feet below. Keep an eye out for plenty of wildlife too, with the park home to the Peregrine falcon, clocked as the fastest bird in the world capable of speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
Drive distance – 95 miles
Continue south today towards Mesa Verde National Park. While the drive offers plenty more stunning sights of the Rocky Mountains, we suggest you head for the town of Cortez. Located between majestic peaks of La Plata Mountains, the spectacular peaks of the Ute Mountains and the entrance to Mesa Verde, this little town in the South East of the state offers plenty for a casual visit, with over 115 acres of parks and trails and even vineyards if you want a taste of the local wine.
Spend a full day exploring Mesa Verde National Park, one of the USA’s richest archaeological preserves – home to over 4000 ancient sites including the famous cliff dwellings. You will find Balcony House, Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House all within easy reach of your overnight accommodation as you explore the parks canyons by car or on foot. A truly memorable location, taking you back in time to the life of the Ancestral Puebloans people.
Drive distance – 199 miles
The longest drive on the tour heads from Mesa Verde in the Southwest corner of Colorado towards Great Sand Dunes National Park in the southern middle part of the state. En-route, stop at the town of Durango. As with most of the picturesque settlements in this wonderful corner of the States, Durango has a dramatic setting, located between the Animas River Valley’s sandstone bluffs and the San Juan Mountains jagged peaks. The town itself boasts a wide range of eateries and microbreweries to entertain you before you head on to Alamosa, your overnight stop and gateway to another national park.
Drive distance – 165 miles
Alamosa is a small town and a perfect overnight stop as it is located close to the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The result of the regions unique wind patterns, the park is home to North America’s highest sand mountains. Covering 30 square miles, with some dunes over 750 feet tall, this every changing landscape is like nothing else in this or any of the other States. Admire the views or trek to the top of a dune and hurtle back towards terra firma while sandboarding or sand sledding, releasing that inner child! Afterwards, continue your journey and turn north towards Colorado Springs.
The second largest city within the state, your final stop over on this loop of Colorado with leave you with many last memories. Located at the foot of Pikes Peak, the city has plenty to offer. Ride Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the summit, over 14000 feet above sea level and offering some amazing views or visit The Garden of the Gods, one of the Nation’s best parks located on the edge of the city, dotted with towering red rock formations which contrast well with the snow-capped peak of the mountains around and about. For the evening, the city thrives with restaurants, bars and plenty of those tasty craft brews.
Drive distance – 90 miles
A final day in Colorado to enjoy a little more of Colorado Springs or head up to Denver early for some last-minute shopping at Cherry Creek before dropping the car off and heading back to the UK on an overnight flight.
‘Stylish Interiors; Spacious Rooms’
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver sits in downtown, within close proximity to Larimar Square and the Denver Art Museum. At the hotel, spacious rooms start from 51sqm. Named after an iconic player from the Denver Broncos, Elway’s Downtown offers succulent prime steaks and lobster. Facilities include a spa and fitness centre.
‘Surrounded by Natural Beauty’
Best Western Plus Silver Saddle Inn sits only moments away from both the Trail Ridge Road and the Rocky Mountains, with the latter only four miles away. The hotel showcases mountain views and offers a collection of comfortable guest rooms. Facilities include a seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub. A complimentary breakfast is offered.
‘Cosy Retreat; Close to Skiing’
The Sebastian, Vail is set in the scenic mountain village of Vail, home to the large Vail Ski Resort. The property offers Base Camp during the ski season, a private club with valets to assist you with boots and getting on the lift. Facilities at The Sebastian include a spa and fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs. The restaurant uses local ingredients to form its dishes and is accompanied by a welcoming bar.
‘Ideal Position; Comfortable Hotel’
Clarion Inn resides only a few miles away from the airport and close by to a number of Grand Valley’s wineries. Facilities here include a fitness centre, restaurant and lounge, 24 hour business centre, and indoor and outdoor pools. Rooms and suites offer a comfortable stay after a day of adventure.
‘Stunning Views; Cosy Accommodation’
Set in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Mountain Lodge Telluride lies amid acres of pristine ski terrain and towering peaks. Rooms and suites feature cosy log cabins to welcome you after a day on the slopes. The View showcases magnificent vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows, while facilities include a fitness centre, steam room and pool.
‘Relaxing Retreat; Wildlife Watching’
Deep inside Mesa Verde National Park, Far View Lodge places a focus on being at one with nature, with the exceptional wildlife your only distraction. Guest rooms feature private balconies with great stargazing opportunities.
‘Encircled by Great Scenery’
In the San Luis Valley, Best Western Alamosa Inn sits only moments away from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Rio Grande Scenic Rail Road. Zapata Falls and the Stations of the Cross Shrine are also nearby. The hotel features comfortable rooms, complimentary breakfast and an indoor pool.
‘American West, Golf, Tennis’
The Broadmoor is in Colorado Springs resort. It has a 54-hole golf course, tennis, water sports, boating, hiking and archery. For relaxing, there are resort pools and the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Broadmoor Spa. Accommodation includes rooms, suites, cottages and the estate house - behind the main building is Cheyenne Lake. Dining options include cafes and lounges, plus Seven Falls, Colorado’s only Forbes 5-star, AAA five-diamond fine-dining restaurant.
International flights in economy
Car hire with GPS
All accommodation as listed
Meals unless stated otherwise
National Park Admission
Share your ideas, tell us what you’re expecting and ask us as many questions as you like; together we can identify what will make your trip exceptional – only then will we begin to tailor-make your holiday.
We will use our destination expertise to plan an itinerary that will work for you – your personal specialist is happy to respond by phone, email or text. Your trip will be refined and reshaped until you love the way it looks, and it fits you perfectly!
We partner with only the finest hotels & resorts that we feel exemplify the Destinology experience. It’s these close relationships that help us to offer our clients that little bit more. We live luxury and we think you should too.