Traveler's Family Vacation Planner


Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests Bring your camera to snap photos of the burrowing owls that patrol this park, rent a backcountry cabin for days of wilderness recreation, steer an ATV toward some off-road adventures. 2150 Centre Ave., Fort Collins, CO; +1 970 295 6600.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Hike past colorful canyon walls to the top of Chasm View, where the cliffs drop away almost 2,000 feet to the banks of the Gunnison River; click into your harness and try to tackle some of the spectacular climbing on the canyon walls; pitch a tent and relax beside the calm streams that flow into the river. 102 Elk Creek, Gunnison, CO; +1 970 641 2337. Admission.

Buena Vista Explore the foothill village at the base of the 14,000-foot mountains known as the Collegiate Peaks; stay in this sleepy former mining town for its close proximity to hiking, biking, and rafting trips down the Arkansas River; visit the Mount Princeton Hot Springs for a relaxing soak. 343 Hwy. 24 South, Buena Vista, CO; +1 719 395 6612.

Eldorado Canyon State Park Strap your harness on and climb the golden walls of "Eldo" Canyon, relax underneath towering aspens in the secluded park only a few miles from Boulder's downtown, rent a kayak and get ready for white-water adventures down South Boulder Creek. Nine Kneale Rd., Eldorado Springs, CO; +1 303 494 3943. Admission.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park Hike the Black Bear Trail, rent a yurt for a night of camping under the stars, go fishing in the park's steams and ponds. 92 Crawford Gulch Rd., Golden, CO; +1 303 582 3707.

Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests Grab your tent and sleeping bag and set out for Island Lake Campground; marvel at the 14,309-foot Uncompahgre Peak; snap a photo beside the torrential Bridal Veil Falls. 2250 Hwy. 50, Delta, CO; +1 970 874 6600.

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Stop at the Starsmore Discovery Center for hands-on nature activities, clamber on a mini climbing wall, hike the Mount Cutler Trail. 2120 S. Cheyenne Cañon Rd., Colorado Springs, CO; +1 719 385 6086.

Pagosa Springs Use this small mountain town as your base camp for the wealth of outdoor amusements nearby, grab your board and head up to the often-overlooked Wolf Creek Ski Area, rest your tired body in the naturally hot waters of Springs Resort. Pagosa Springs, CO; 800 252 2204. Admission.

Rio Grande National Forest Explore the variety of ecosystems that form this 1.86-million-acre wilderness, hike through the Sangre de Cristo forest down into the San Luis Valley, grab a raft from a local outfitter for an exciting ride down the headwaters of the Rio Grande. 1803 W Hwy. 160, Monte Vista, CO; +1 719 852 5941.

Royal Gorge Marvel at this dramatic 1,000-foot slash in the earth's surface, suppress your vertigo to take a stroll across the gorge on the world's highest suspension bridge, visit the Wapiti Western Wildlife Park to see a herd of Rocky Mountain elk. 4218 Fremont County Road 3A, Cañon City, CO; +1 719 275 7507. Admission.

San Juan National Forest Follow the Vallecito Trail deep into this wild forest full of maple, birch, and cypress trees; bring your mountain bike for miles of downhill trails inside the forest; pitch a tent and camp alongside Miller Creek; keep your camera ready to snap a photo of the roaming black bears. 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO; +1 970 247 4874.

State Forest State Park Explore over 70,000 acres of wilderness teeming with moose and bighorn sheep, bring your rod for a chance at fly-fishing in the Michigan River. Backcountry yurts provide shelter for camping expeditions. 56750 Hwy. 14, Walden, CO; +1 970 723 8366. Admission.

White River National Forest Abandon the tourist-filled slopes for the wilderness in this massive alpine forest, saddle up a horse rented from a local outfitter for a ride underneath giant pine trees, hike to the summit of Maroon Bells for panoramic views from 14,000 feet up, bring your rod for trout fishing in the numerous mountain brooks, prepare your freshly caught dinner at your backcountry campsite. 900 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs, CO; +1 970 945 2521.

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