Colorado has four national parks, fourth most of any state in the U.S. With that little fact alone, it’s easy to guess that the Centennial State is packed with natural beauty. And what’s a better way to pass the time in such a gorgeous place than a good hike? Here are four of the best hikes (and places to hike) in Colorado.
Four Pass Loop
The Four Pass Loop is a whopper – a 27.1-mile loop with a 7,000-plus foot ascent. It’s located in the White River National Forest, more specifically in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. It’s commonly backpacked in a 3-night or 4-night trip. The Maroon Bells are one of the most photographed mountain views in all of Colorado, a vista worth writing home about for sure – or at least sharing some pics on Instagram once you’re back in civilization. It’s breathtaking, literally, as you gain more than 7,300 feet along the route, climbing about 12,000 feet in elevation at four different passes: Buckskin, Trail Rider, Frigid Air and West Maroon.
Monarch Lake to Crater Lake
This 14.9-mile out and back trail is another difficult yet impressive hike. Going from Monarch Lake to Crater Lake or vice versa, this hike is much easier than the Four Pass Loop but still has great lake and mountain views. A 2,000-foot elevation gain is no simple task, though. But there are plenty of places to rest along the way, including at vantage points that overlook multiple waterfalls, as the trail follows Buchanan and Cascade creeks.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Featuring dunes up to 750 feet tall, you’re bound to get a workout in as well at Great Sand Dunes, located in the south-central part of Colorado. While High Dune and Star Dune are the national park’s noted areas, you are free to explore all 30 square miles of the dunefield, with its excellent mountain views and otherworldly scenery.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Nothing says Colorado like the Rocky Mountain range. There’s a whole list of hikes on the national park website: From waterfall hikes and lake hikes to summit hikes and easy vista hikes, you really can’t go wrong. You might see moose and elk, and will certainly be surrounded by wilderness.