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Places to visit in Colorado

ColoradoIf you are wondering which places to visit in Colorado then here you will find a lot of interesting attractions for the tourist or a traveler. Among them there are unique natural sites and historical monuments. Colorado is the state which is famous for its magnificent natural landscapes of the Rocky Mountains zone. In winter snow slopes attract those who are fond of winter sports. The famous ski resorts in the state of Colorado are visited by many tourists from around the world.

Every year millions of visitors come to the tourist and mountainous areas of Colorado: Aspen, the East Park and the city of Colorado Springs, Arapahoe Bezin, Steamboat Springs, Vail and Winter Park. The ski season in Colorado begins in November and ends in April.

Colorado is the “high-rise” state, its land lies at an altitude of 2100 meters above the sea level.

Among the most interesting natural attractions of Colorado are national parks “Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,” “Large sand dunes” and “Rocky Mountains”.

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Place number 1: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

 Black CanyonIf you travel to the western part of Colorado you should definitely visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The park is 19 km of picturesque canyon formed by the river Gunnison. Black Canyon was given this name  because the walls are so steep (the depth of the Black Canyon in the park is more than eight meters long and at its narrowest point  there are only twelve meters), that in some places the canyon is barely illuminated by the sun.

Black Canyon is a popular place among:

  1. fans of rock climbing
  2. white water rafting (rafting on the rapids mountain rivers)

But the extreme complexity of routes requires to be highly qualified athletes.

It is very rich in flora and fauna of the national park “Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.”

Here you can see:

  1. deer,
  2. elk,
  3. cougars,
  4. coyotes,
  5. different species of birds and plants.

Interesting: Along the southern edge of the canyon there is a scenic drive. The park has campgrounds, campsites and hiking trails.

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Place number 2: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

 Great Sand Dunes National ParkIt is about 350 km in the San Luis Valley of Colorado to the south.

About 80 km of the park is occupied with the highest sand dunes (hills) in the North America. The dunes, which are more than ten thousand years old, have been formed with sand, brought by winds from the flood plain of the Rio Grande. The height of the dunes reaches 230 meters.

In addition to the actual huge sand dunes in the park there are areas which are covered with:

  1. forests,
  2. Alpine meadows,
  3. lakes,
  4. wetlands (there are a lot of animals and plants).

Great Sand Dunes has a unique stream Medano which does not have permanent bed due to the transfer of sand caused by wind.

Interesting: National Park “Great Sand Dunes” is considered to be the quietest park in the continental part of the United States of America. Here you can have an active rest sandboarding or sand sledding. Great Sand Dunes welcomes visitors to hike, horseback ride, or drive into the national preserve.

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Place number 3: National Park “Rocky Mountains”

 "Rocky Mountains"The park is situated on the north of the State of Colorado. It takes more than a thousand km and attracts visitors to magnificent mountain scenery. In the park “Rocky Mountains” the Continental Divide runs, here there are also the headwaters of the Colorado River and many beautiful mountain lakes.

Rocky Mountain National Park is really great with its:

  1. beautiful mountains,
  2. tundra wildflowers,
  3. abundant wildlife,
  4. Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road of the USA).

Interesting: You will never be bored in this National Park. Each will find something to do according to the preferences. For those who like adventure there is an opportunity to hike to a high mountain lake, to raft a river or go mountain biking. If you spend time together with your family you are offered to pack a picnic, join a cowboy sing-along or ride horseback.

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Place number 4:  The park “Garden of the Gods”

"Garden of the Gods"Not far from Colorado Springs there is a park “Garden of the Gods.” The park, which occupies about 1,300 hectares, has laid numerous hiking and biking trails, walking along which visitors can see of extraordinary and spectacular rock formations formed by the weathering.

Some of the most popular tourist destination rocks even got their own names, among them there are:

  1. The “Kiss of camels,”
  2. “Rocking Rock,”
  3. “The head of the lama,”
  4. “The Three Graces”,
  5. “Cathedral” and others.

Many different rocks of interesting shapes attract those tourists who are fond of climbing to the “Garden of the Gods”.

Interesting: The red rock formations of the Garden of the Gods appeared in a geological upheaval along a natural fault line. This happened millions of years ago. However, there is archaeological evidence showing that prehistoric people visited the Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC.

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Place number 5: Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most interesting attractions of Colorado, which preserved the unique rock dwellings of American Indians that are older than eight hundred years.

National Park Mesa Verde is spread in the southwestern part of the state, in the town of Montezuma Country.

Facts to know about Mesa Verde:

  1. The total area of ??the park has about two hundred square kilometers, and elevation ranges between 1900 and 2600 meters above the sea level.
  2. The main attraction of the park – numerous ruins of stone dwellings created in weathered sandstone canyons of the ancient people, better known as the Anasazi Indian tribe.
  3. These buildings were erected in the XIII century and are the first in the history of American architecture model of the “apartment building”.
  4. The park has been named in the honor of the eponymous plateau, which rises 600 meters above the surrounding terrain and the slopes are covered with the pine forest. “Mesa Verde” means “green table” from the Spanish language. The popularity of these sites has increased in the second half of the 19th  century, when Spanish explorers began to realize the value of the ancient rocks to Indian life. The first researcher Mesa Verde became Richard Uezeril who was an amateur historian who studied the history of the Pueblo, moreover, archaeological work of the Swedish geologist Gustaf Nordenskold was of great importance.

 Interesting: In 1906, in order to protect antiquities against possible vandalism, Mesa Verde has received the official status of a National Park and entered into the National Register of Historic Places 60 years later. Since September 1978 the park has been included in the list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

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Place number 6: Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic SiteIt is located in the south east of Colorado, the fort was built in 1833 by brothers William and Charles Bent as a base for trade with the Indian tribes. Fort Bent was at that time the only permanent settlement, representing the USA in the region and has played not the last role in the expansion of the US to the west.

In the middle of the XIX century it was destroyed. The fort was rebuilt in the seventies of the 20th century with the surviving sketches, records and the results of the excavations. There are a great number of surviving records of Bent’s Fort; his original plans and drawings. In 70s the National Park Service rebuilt Bent’s Fort on its old foundations with the help of the measurements and drawings of Lt. James W. Abert of the year 1846. Basing on the records which have survived together with archeological evidence it can be said that the reconstructed fort is accurate for 95 %.

If you go to Bent’s Fort in La Junta today you can:

  1. walk the same paths,
  2. see the same sights that the Native Americans, Santa Fe traders, mountain men, explorers, and soldiers once saw.

Interesting: You can meet Bent’s Fort even in popular culture in the novel of George MacDonald Fraser “Flashman and the Redskins” and the Pulitzer Priz-winning novel Lonesome Dove.

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Place number 7: Georgetown Loop Railroad

Georgetown Loop RailroadGeorgetown Loop Railroad has become one of the 1st Colorado attractions made by a man. It has started to draw attention of the visitors since the late 19th century. The Georgetown Loop Railroad still remains a very important place in the list of the tourist because this wonderful stretch of three-foot narrow gauge railroad looked as a wonder of engineering for that period of time.

Some facts about Georgetown Loop that necessary to know if you go there:

  1. It was built in 1884.
  2. The distance between the villages is 3.2 km, but they are separated by a deep gorge of the river Clear Creek, and the difference in their height is about two hundred meters.
  3. Georgetown and Silver Plume joined the railroad forming a loop. Its length was 7.2 km.  There were four bridges built, the largest of them was called “High Bridge” or the more mysterious name was the “Devil’s Gate”.
  4. In 1973, the railroad, which was the part of 978-acre Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park, was renewed by the Colorado Historical Society.

Interesting: At the beginning of the 20th century narrow-gauge railway was stopped working, but in the 70s and 80s it was restored and at the moment the tourists have the chance to ride an old train of  the Georgetown loop.

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Place number 8: Aspen Ski Resort.

Aspen Ski ResortThe town attracts so many tourists, including celebrities, that having a constant population of only about six thousand people here you can find a few expensive restaurants and boutiques of the prestigious and very expensive brands as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and others.

You could be lucky to meet famous people as David and Victoria Beckham, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Jack Nicholson and many others. Some of them came there to have a rest and somebody lived there as this place is really a great one. Go and maybe you will be lucky to meet your favourite movie star or a singer face to face! There are a lot of activities that can draw your attention.

You can:

  1. Ski down the runs that hosted World Cup races
  2. Ride through gladed stashes
  3. Chase after Oasis Champagne Bar

Interesting: The resort has almost 70 years of skiing history and has much to offer you. If you are an advanced skier than you will be able to enjoy unreal glades, bumps and steeps. But if it is your first visit and you are just a beginner there is Ski and Snowboard School which provides you with interesting lectures about this place.

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Place number 9: The Chapel at Red Rocks

The Chapel at Red RocksThe Cadet Chapel of the US Air Force Academy is located in Colorado, in the territory of the military camp and training base of the branch of the academy pilots of the US Air Force. The chapel was built in 1962 in the style of modernism, designed by its architect Walter Netzsch. You will definitely love the majestic views of the chapel attached to seventeen rows of steel frames that end peaks at an altitude of 50 meters.

The structure consists of three levels, in which services are held for representatives of:

  1. Catholic,
  2. Protestant,
  3. 3. Jewish.

The chapel is a popular tourist attraction, every year about 500,000 people come to see it.

Interesting: In 1996, the chapel was awarded the Award of the American Institute of Architects in 2004 as a part of the Cadet Corps that was recognized as National Historic Monument.

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Place number 10: Colorado River

Colorado RiverThe great Colorado River originates at the top of the Rocky Mountains. It is not considered to be the longest river of the country and cannot boast with its length but it doesn’t interfere to be the Great River of the world. During hundreds of thousands of years the beautiful natural landscape has been formed by the slow water that was burrowing deeper into both ground and rocks. The result of this work has been brilliant and you can observe it now. It is the Grand Canyon that has a depth over 2000 meters.

The Grand Canyon has been put on the maps not immediately, it happened a little more than a hundred years ago thanks to John Powell, a geologist, who took his small team and together they performed the rafting along the river bed. He was very surprised when he saw the Grand Canyon and understood that the Colorado River contributed to its formation and still continues to hack its way into the rocks patiently. Long time ago the Indians inhabited this place and later these lands, together with the area of ??Monument, became the major stage area which is used to film Westerns. Nowadays you can still meet Navajo Indians there who live in these places on reserves.

In the watershed all eleven U.S. national parks can be found:

  1. Arches,
  2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison,
  3. Bryce Canyon,
  4. Canyonlands,
  5. Capitol Reef,
  6. Grand Canyon,
  7. Mesa Verde,
  8. Petrified Forest,
  9. Rocky Mountain,
  10. Saguaro,
  11. Zion.

When go sightseeing you can also choose from the following activities:

  1. hiking,
  2. backpacking,
  3. camping,
  4. skiing,
  5. fishing.

Interesting: The Colorado River is the only source of water for hundreds of kilometers around even today. This gradually leads to a shallowing of the river. Annually the Colorado River welcomes more than twenty thousand tourists who are willing to raft on the upper river to the Gulf of California. If you want to get there you need to wait in a queue which exists for those who wish to have the opportunity to enjoy rafting. There are really a great number of those who want to become the lucky fellows that the queue is enormous and it is necessary to back up a request two years beforehand.

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Place number 11: Colorado Springs

Colorado SpringsColorado Springs is a town in Colorado that is situated 100 km to the south of Denver. Colorado Springs takes the wonderful location which is at the foot of the mountains. Colorado Springs lies at an altitude of 1800 meters above the sea level, with some areas that have even higher location. Colorado Springs is the 2nd city in Colorado after Denver referring the number of people who live there. According to the Census Bureau in 2013 Colorado Springs has 439,000 inhabitants and together with the suburbs the number has increased to 650 thousand people.

A lot of tourists come to Colorado Springs to enjoy the local scenery. In the vicinity of Colorado Springs there is 4302 meters Mount Pikes. It attracts thousands of people. It takes the 2nd place after Mount Fuji in the number of tourists. If you would like to see the greatest scenery you need to climb up at the Cog Railway using your car or just walking on foot.

Annually on the mountain Pikes Peak you can become the witness of two popular sporting events:

  1. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (race to the summit on the cars of various classes)
  2. Pikes Peak Marathon. If you are fond of such activities then you should go there and see with your own eyes!

Another mountain that is worth mentioning is Cheyenne Mountain. Besides the closed military facility NORAD here you can find:

  1. Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.
  2. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Interesting: These attractions in Colorado Springs are located near each other and are very popular among tourists. A visit to the zoo and the Sun Temple is organized in a single ticket. Another attraction, situated at the foot of Cheyenne, is a luxury hotel and the resort Broadmoor with over 100 years of history.

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Place number 12: Park “Dinosaur ridge”

Park “Dinosaur ridge”The park is situated about 10 miles west of downtown Denver, near Morrison. In Colorado, there is one huge park that is dedicated to the discoveries of dinosaurs’ bones and skeletons – Dinosaur National Monument, but it is on the border with the state of Utah, in the extreme north-west that is more than 300 miles from Denver. And Dinosaur ridge is a small park. First dinosaur that you are going to see will meet you at the parking place near the entrance. It is difficult to imagine that million years ago dinosaurs lived here.

The bones of dead animals were covered with mud and sand saturated with silica, resulting in hardened and became like the surrounding rocks. About 70 million years ago the active processes of displacement of mountain layers began. They resulted in part of the rocks turned, split and exposed their inner layers, making it possible to see the fossil bones. The area of the park Dinosaur Ridge is one of the world’s most well-known dinosaur fossil localities.

In 1877, such dinosaurs were found in the park area:

  1. Apatosaurus,
  2. Diplodocus,
  3. Stegosaurus,
  4. Allosaurus.

Interesting: In 1973 this area was acknowledged for its uniqueness, historical and scientific importance. In 1989, the educational programs on the area’s resources were offered to be organized.

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Place number 13: Cliff Palace

Cliff PalaceCliff Palace was discovered by Mason in 1888. It is the largest and the most famous of the rock palaces in the Mesa Verde National Park, opened in 1906 on the initiative of Theodore Roosevelt.

In the middle of the XIII century, there lived, apparently, about four hundred people – the population of a whole village. In total in the palace there were more than two hundred dwellings, excluding storerooms and so-called “kivas” – freestanding ritual buildings. The rooms were decorated with wall paintings, for the most part – geometric ornaments. The front part of this “housing complex” forms a series of outdoor terraces, where apparently everyday economic and social life of the village took place.

Not far from the Cliff Palace along the Chapin Mesa, mountain plateau area of ??almost 1,000 square kilometers there are two similar buildings:

  1. Spruce Tree House.
  2. Balcony House.

Interesting: Spruce Tree House was built in three floors and covers 66 meters in length and 27 meters in depth. Here there are more than a hundred rooms rectangular, triangular, and even round shape. Obviously, this impregnable fortress of the village was built primarily for defense.

As you can see now there are a lot of attractions and interesting places to visit in
Colorado. Hope that now you don’t have doubts which state of the USA to choose for your holidays or vacation. The most rocky and mountainous region of America Colorado, located in the west country in the area of ??the Rocky Mountains, is waiting for you! Here are the highest peaks of the country, including Elbert peak rushing up to more than four kilometers. It is not surprisingly that the skiing is the main source of revenue in the state budget: there are four popular resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. In addition, there is is a prestigious Aspen Ski Resort. All resorts are connected with the free bus, the ski pass for lifts is the Colorado ticket. Get it and enjoy your journey around the great Colorado state!
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