Colorado– Love traveling to the Denver area to see music and then take an extra week to travel around.
Red Rocks Amphitheater– (September 2013) what an incredible place to see a show! highly recommend hiking around during the day and seeing a show at night. Bring rain jacket and warm clothes cause it can be much colder up there than Denver. Its about a 30 min drive from Denver. https://www.redrocksonline.com/
Here is a YouTube video of our Colorado, Arches, Mesa Verde & Red Rocks trip https://youtu.be/0pOYv8OTCd0
Garden of the Gods– Colorado– (September 2013) 1 hour 25 mins south of Denver- we loved Garden of the Gods- you can add Pikes Peak to this adventure as both are south of Denver. Pikes Peak is an hour away. Garden of the Gods is a great place to hike and explore. Very dog friendly and free entrance! https://www.gardenofgods.com/
Pikes Peak– Colorado- (September 2014) You can either hike or drive up Pikes Peak- it is 2 and a half hour drive south of Denver- it is about a 2-3 hour round trip drive to the top and back down. Go slow as the elevation is 14,115 ft. We for sure felt the altitude on this one! Hiking is between 6-10 hours- it is 13 miles one way. It cost $15 per adult (16+) and $5 per child (6-15) to drive up
Rocky Mountain National Park– Colorado– an hour and a half north west of Denver. We always hike the same trail- it is so gorgeous and we usually only have one day to explore. We hike the trail to Emerald lake. It is an easier hike and kid friendly. There is so many trails to explore and it is an area not to be missed!!! It cost $25 for 1 day or $35 for 7 days. Or an America the Beautiful pass for $80 and is good for year and gets you into almost all National Parks for free.
Mesa Verde National Park- Colorado– (September 2017) I would recommend adding Mesa Verde to your Arches National Park and or Monument Valley trip as this is almost 8 hours from Denver. But it is only 2 hours from Telluride- if you plan on visiting Telluride take the time to visit Mesa Verde cause it is fascinating. You have the option of 4 tours- that you can combine or do solo. We did only one cause we didnt realize how short the tours were and didnt think we had time. So would recommend at least 2 if you have time. The tour was only an hour long. You have to pay for parking and also the tours. The America the beautiful pass gets you free parking. You have to go on a tour to explore here. There is very limited hiking & exploring on your own. https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm
Great Sand Dunes National Park– Colorado– (October 2021) we went in October and had no idea it snows here!!! It snowed on us lightly as we hiked around- it was so exhilarating and we could not stop giggling! The hike was tough! You sink a lot and it’s quite the workout- but the it’s so worth it- and those views! There is one camp ground right in the park- with views of the dunes- it sells out so book ahead of time and if it is October i would recommend a hotel cause Brrrr it was freezing!!! We did not sleep well being so cold but now we know- it’s cold and snows at the Great Sand Dunes
Wyoming to visit Grand Teton National Park & Yellowstone National Park- 1 hour 22 min from Bozeman Montana or 8 hours from Denver & only 9 mins from each other this area is not to be missed. Most people will say it is their favorite National Parks and I will let you know how we feel once we have been!
Grand Teton National Park- Wyoming– 14,000 feet in elevation the Grand Tetons are picturesque! ha! i have never used that word before but love it! Located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming- yes you should totally ski here as well if you come in the winter- $35 per vehicle or America the Beautiful Pass
viewpoints- Snake River Overlook, Schwabacher landing, and Glacier View Turnout. Many pull offs on the scenic road but stop at Jenny Lake for a walk or boat ride. Bring Binoculars for spotting bears, Moose, Elk & Bison.
Yellowstone National Park- Wyoming– open year round but the main road typically close from mid ocotber to mid april due to snow. You can book a snowmobile tour during this time though, which sounds pretty cool.
Upper Geyser Basin & Old Faithful– the busiest are of the park- ample parking- a gas station- lodging- lots of food options- access to hiking trails and home to Old Faithful Geyser- it erupts every 90 mins. You can walk the 3 mile loop for upper geyser basin- which is not to missed. Some other must sees are Castle Geyser, Riverside Geyser, Grotto Geyser, and Morning Glory Pool. Beehive Geyser is incredible if you catch it going off. Also check out Old Faithful Inn even if you are not staying there.
Biscuit Basin- .65 mile short loop trail- along the way you see colorful hot pools including Black Opal Pool, jewel Geyser, Sapphire Pool, Shell Spring, Mustard Spring, Avoca Spring and Black Pearl Geyser.
Grand Prismatic Spring- This one is gorgeous! not to be missed! park at the Fairy Falls Trail Parking lot for a 1 mile round trip trail to the overlook. You can do the short boardwalk trail but the Fairy Falls has a better view.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Hayden Valley, Artist Point are also not to be missed.
Glacier National Park– Montana–
Joshua Tree National Park– California– (October 2021) free with National Parks Pass or $30 per vehicle- we didn’t have much time in Joshua Tree as we changed our trip last minute to go to the next Phish show- but before I had planned on camping right at the park at jumbo rocks campground – it is still on my list of things to do- being in the desert under the stars at Joshua Tree- I hear sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Gardens are pretty magical- Joshua tree is not a super large park- there is only 50 miles of road and you can see it all in one day- but so much hiking and areas to explore and great sunsets