Colorado is known as an outdoor adventure mecca with countless hidden gems. It’s a popular family travel destination in every season. From fun-filled ski trips in winter to summer whitewater rafting, you can be assured there are many great spots that are fun for kids and families alike. Experience the beauty of Colorado with your family when you visit one of these hidden gems for family adventure in Colorado.
Why Hidden Gems?
Hidden gems are our travel specialty. When we travel we tend to stay away from the popular tourist attractions and find the spots that locals love. You will rarely, if ever, read something from me about Disney World or Chicago or even a rocking place like Austin, Texas, because there are so many other people out there who can write about those types of places better. They travel and stay in posh hotels, eat at the most hip restaurants and frequent the arts scene. I simply have a different audience — I travel with kids.
We aren’t luxury travelers – we are adventure travelers. In fact, we are parents who are traveling with our kids to show them the world. Travel offers a different perspective on life, money, careers and prioritizing. And, we throw in education, some worldliness and a lot of culture (one of my favorite aspects of travel) along the way.
TravelingMom Tip: Check out our complete Colorado packing list so you’ll have everything you need – and nothing you won’t – no matter what time of year you visit.
Our travels are about coming together as a family, pushing our limits, growing in our faith and finding the courage and strength to follow our dreams. The places we visit and then write about are spots where these “travel goals” are realized.
After traveling the country, and the globe, we took a summer to travel in our own backyard, our beautiful home state of Colorado. And we uncovered some spectacular hidden gems. Places where life slows down and people connect around the natural beauty and adventure organic to these “destinations.”
Take a moment to view the following list of the five most amazing outdoor hidden gems in Colorado.
1. Salida, CO
Salida, CO is literally in the middle of the state, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and in the central Colorado Upper Arkansas River Valley. It’s home to Brown’s Canyon, the most popular stretch of river for whitewater rafting in the entire country. Salida has embraced all its organic beauty and opens itself fully to visitors!
Salida is unassuming in its presentation, but delivers outdoor adventure for everyone, of every age and every physical ability. Choose your own adventure from whitewater kayaking, rafting, biking, hiking, camping, snowboarding, and so so so much more. It is also home to the oldest River Festival in the state,FIBArk, celebrating everything glorious about whitewater!!
And the best thing? Salida won’t break the bank in either lodging or eating!!! So plan your family adventure in Colorado here today!
2. Golden, CO
Golden, Colorado offers a variety of activities for families of all styles. From wild whitewater activities to fine dining and shopping, visitors will find something fun for everyone! Homeschool families will love the educational exploits at one of Golden’s dozen museums. And if education is your thing, be sure to check out the School of Mines, a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science and the perfect place for visitors to enjoy an afternoon of history and science.
Golden, CO is located 20 miles from downtown Denver and a total diamond in the rough, so to speak; a quiet, friendly city that feels more like a Western town, close to the bustling city of Denver, but with a small town feel. It’s a perfect opportunity to unplug as a family and celebrate nature, education and tons of free activities!
3. Glenwood Springs, CO
Glenwood Springs, nestled between Vail and Aspen, offers a plethora of fun activities for families that are heavy on history, adventure, education and fun. Nestled between the HOT (and insanely pricey) towns of Vail and Aspen, Glenwood Springs is home to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Iron Mountain Hot Springs Pool, Doc Holliday’s Grave, Sunlight Mountain Resort and both the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River for tubing, fishing and whitewater rafting.
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Glenwood Springs is a hot spot for bikers, climbers, kayakers, rafters, hikers, fishermen, hunters, even shoppers and paragliders!! Fine dining and luxury hotels mingle with more rugged accommodations with such finesse, it’s easy to find your perfect family getaway here.
And let’s not overlook the fact that Glenwood Springs was named “Most Fun Town in America” by USA Today … I mean, who doesn’t want to go to the Most Fun Town in the country at least once???
4. Fruita, CO
Oh, the truly epic mountain biking in Fruita could make up its own blog and feature film. I don’t have the time or space to run down the entire list of all the amazing trails that can be found here, but I’ll mention the world famous Kokopelli Trail … you know the 145-mile trail that runs from Fruita to Moab, UT? Check it out and all the other amazing trails in Fruita!
Another often overlooked, yet amazing place is Colorado National Monument. Amazing sweeping views, fantastic hikes, crazy great camping, classic bouldering and nary a person in sight out on the trails.
Not a chance I’ll talk about a Colorado town without mentioning the river, so I would be remiss if I didn’t list the ultimate family friendly, class II, 25 mile paddle, multi-day down the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River. Be aware that due to crowding there is a permit requirement for campsites, a pain, but also nice to know you will have a campsite waiting for you as you float down the river. Highly recommend!
5. Crested Butte
Last, but certainly not least, is Crested Butte. Arguably the most amazing ski town in Colorado, if not the country, Crested Butte has everything any adventurer could possibly desire, except for affordability.
CB, as it’s affectionately known, is a four season wonderland. In the winter, anything you can do on snow is found in Crested Butte. Those who love winter sports will enjoy everything from resort skiing and snowboarding to back country and cross-country. If you don’t ski or snowboard, you can enjoy sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowshoeing and so much more!!
In the Spring, CB offers incomparable kayaking. Classic Colorado steep creeks, like Oh Be Joyful, give the advanced paddler the thrill they seek and the hike they deserve for such a great run!
In the summer and fall Crested Butte offers up biking, hiking, fishing, climbing and so so so much more!
After traveling the continent for the past nine years in our RV, I was certain I would find a state we liked more, or at least that we found comparable to Colorado. But I’ll have you know, there is nowhere that offers the outdoor adventure and the amazing weather like Colorado. And I’ll be as bold to say, there is nowhere more conducive to raising children with awe and respect for the outdoors than Colorado. We highly recommend family adventure in Colorado!
Its beauty is uncompromised and – while we have every intention of continuing to travel, Colorado will forever be our home for the towns listed above and dozens more throughout the state!! Happy Travels!