Top 10 Activities in Colorado to Try this Summer

Written by Ben Sack, 05.14.2019

As we enter the summer months, Colorado has a magnetic draw for outdoor enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and curious travelers. Whether you are interested in exploring the wild backcountry or keeping things a bit closer to home, Colorado has something for everyone. 

Between the majestic expanses of the Rocky Mountains and the lively entertainment options around Denver, Colorado is a playground for the young and old alike. If outdoor activities are your thing, you have endless options to choose from with parks, trails, lakes, rivers, and jeep roads. 

If you are looking to create memories that last a lifetime, Echo Canyon recommends trying these top summer activities in Colorado.

10 Bucket List Activities to Try During Colorado Summers

1. White Water Rafting

There is a reason why Colorado is considered one of the meccas for white water rafting in the United States. Whether it be rafting the Royal Gorge or Browns Canyon National Monument, Colorado is home to some of the best stretches of white water found anywhere. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, white water rafting in Colorado is a great way to experience the splendor of the Rocky Mountains – while getting some heart-pumping action along the way!

Family laughing and splashing in a raft in Bighorn Sheep Canyon

2. Hiking a Colorado 14er

Completing a summit hike of a 14,000 ft peak is one of the most quintessential activities in Colorado. While the difficulty levels of the Colorado 14ers vary greatly, most of them in close vicinity to Denver and Colorado Springs are quite accessible. If you are in good hiking shape, you could climb the world-famous Pikes Peak or explore more remote 14ers in the mountains of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
Hiker standing on rock outcropping near Vail Pass

3. Mountain Biking

As seen with other extreme sports like skiing and rock climbing, Colorado is a literal paradise for mountain bikers. From world-class downhill trails at ski resorts like Winter Park and Snowmass to the scenic singletracks of Fruita, Durango, and Cañon City, Colorado has options for riders of every skill level. Even if you are just a beginner, mountain biking is a sure bet for summertime fun!

Mountain biking the Royal Gorge Region in Colorado

4. Pro Sports Games

If you are visiting Denver, be sure to check out a professional sporting event while you are in the city. The Colorado Rockies always put on a great show, and nothing says “summertime” more than a baseball game. The early summer might offer the chance to see the Nuggets in the NBA playoffs, while you can also catch a football game with the Broncos in late summer.
baseball game

5. Backpacking & Camping

Backpacking and camping are great options for escaping the city and immersing yourself in the beauty of the wild this summer. From established campgrounds to remote wilderness areas, there are endless opportunities to set up camp and experience the splendor of the Rocky Mountains. Colorado State Parks offer some world-class amenities for camping, while rugged, dispersed campsites can be found throughout the state as well.

a group of hikers looking at distant mountains

6. Mountain Festivals

Whether it be centrally located towns like Leadville and Buena Vista, or outliers deep in the southwest like Durango, Colorado is world-renowned for its vibrant mountain towns. To showcase the very best they have to offer, many mountain towns put on their own festivals throughout the summer. For example, the Arkansas River culture comes together every June to celebrate the FIBArk Festival in Salida, Colorado, and again in July for the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival in Cañon City, Colorado.

Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival raft rodeo

7. Scenic Drives

If your family enjoys taking scenic drives to new and remote areas, Colorado will no doubt be a huge hit. In the event you are visiting the southwest region of the state, be sure to check out the Million Dollar Highway that connects Durango, Silverton, and Ouray. For something closer to Denver, the Mt. Evans Highway is the highest paved road in North America – topping out at close to 14,200 ft.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway

8. Wildlife Viewing

With millions of acres of public land, Colorado boasts an abundance of opportunities for wildlife viewing. If you visit Rocky Mountain National Park, there is a chance to see moose, elk, and bighorn sheep. In the high-altitude regions of places like the Maroon Bells near Aspen, mountain goat sightings are also common. Similarly, Colorado bird watchers enjoy an abundance of species such as warblers and kingbirds, as well as raptors like eagles and falcons.

Bighorn Sheep Ram

9. Fishing

rainbow troutColorado may be known for its mountains, but it also has stunning rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Whether you enjoy bait fishing with a bobber or fly fishing in a remote mountain stream, Colorado is an angler’s paradise. For flyfishing, Colorado is home to gold medal waters along the Arkansas and South Platte Rivers, as well as many more.

10. Family Picnics

While outdoor sports like hiking, rafting, and mountain biking are fun, it’s also nice to slow down from time to time. Especially for families traveling together, setting up a picnic and spending the day together will create memories that last a lifetime. With an abundance of public land, Colorado offers tons of options for picnicking – including riverside sites and sites with mountain vistas.

Family having a picnic next to camper van

Visit Colorado During Your Next Summer Vacation!

With breathtaking mountains, pristine wildernesses, and vibrant urban centers, Colorado has endless summer activities for just about everybody. At Echo Canyon River Expeditions, we take great pride in helping you plan the vacation of a lifetime!

Start planning your outdoor adventures today!

Garden of the Gods

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About the Author

Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions, Colorado's largest white water rafting outfitter. He's also a raft guide, a photographer, and he loves exploring Colorado and beyond with his wife and two boys.
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