Explore the magnificent Colorado Rockies
9 Nights From €1299 (Per Person)
Fly Drive Holidays
Denver (Colorado) - Colorado Springs (Colorado) - Alamosa (Colorado) - Durango (Colorado) - Mesa Verda NP (Colorado) - Gunnison NP (Colorado)- Vail (Colorado) - Rocky Mountain NP (Colorado) - Denver (Colorado)
It’s country so beautiful that it inspired John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High,” and the famous line “O beautiful for spacious skies” in America the Beautiful. What’s more, it inspired the exhausted settlers who pushed on from the plains on their rugged trek to “Pike’s Peak or Bust.” All across Colorado, silver, snow-capped mountains burst forth from dense forests, reaching skyward as far as the eye can see. On the ground, looking up at these awesome mountains, you can only wonder what thunderous forces created the stone monoliths. Welcome to Big Mountain Country! This is mountain scenery as good as it gets.
Your trip begins in Denver, one of America’s most educated and sophisticated cities. Yet, not so sophisticated that it has lost its home town feel and the hospitality of authentic surroundings. From there, as you travel deep into the Colorado landscape, you’ll be impressed by the majesty of the American Rockies. The stunning vistas of Rocky Mountain National Park show off clear rushing rivers and meadows of wildflowers, set against mountain peaks that go on for miles. In Mesa Verde National Park, the hillsides provided cover for the cliff dwellings of the ancients who lived in the region thousands of years ago. Driving through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, you’ll understand the power of raging water to cut through earth. Great Sand Dunes National Park presents a whole different picture of the power of wind and water. Pike’s Peak isn’t a National Park, but it should be, since it towers above all the rest.
Integral to this great mountain scenery are five of Colorado’s best scenic byways, including the San Juan Skyway in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango and the Skyline Drive, part of the Gold Belt, near Canon City. Both offer stunning views and a different perspective on the landscape. The traditional Colorado ski resort town of Vail is thriving and beautiful in the summer. You’ll depart this dramatic region of America knowing you have seen the best.
Colorado Springs (Colorado)
Mesa Verda NP (Colorado)
Gunnison NP (Colorado)
Rocky Mountain NP (Colorado)
Day 1: Arrive in Denver
Welcome to Denver, “the Mile High City,” where a brass cap positioned at exactly 5,280 feet above sea level is perched on the Capitol steps. The 16th Street Mall connects the Capitol Building with LODO, the Lower Downtown Historic District and mixed-use neighborhood. Nearby, the Colorado State History Museum features the dramatic geology of the region. The Denver History Museum, the Denver Visitor Center, and the Molly Brown House, home of the “unsinkable” local heroine, are all close by as well. Be sure to visit the Denver Art Museum, where the building is as dramatic as the exhibits.
Day 2: Explore Denver
If you explored the Golden Triangle Museum District yesterday, today you may want to get out into one of Denver’s great neighborhoods. The Santa Fe Arts District has Denver’s largest collection of art galleries. Cherry Creek has the best shopping and dining. Quaint Old South Pearl Street has a Farmer’s Market every Sunday. The Highlands neighborhood was recently featured in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure Magazine. Golden, Colorado, the state’s first capital city, is a great western town nestled at the base of a mountain surrounded with huge buttes. It’s also been home to the Coors Brewing Company since 1873.
Day 3: Colorado Springs
Today, it’s Pike’s Peak or Bust! You can drive up the auto road or take the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway. Either way, everybody who goes to Colorado Springs should go to the top. From there, continue your journey through red rock landscapes and rugged mountains at the Garden of the Gods and the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, which encompasses some of the oldest fossilized material in the US. Consider lunch at the famous Broadmoor Hotel, tour the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine and experience the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. If there’s time, the US Air Force Academy is also well worth a visit.
Day 4: Alamosa
You can expect a very scenic drive today as you travel portions of five Colorado Scenic Byways on your way to Alamosa. The Gold Belt Tour takes you through old mining towns and Canon City, home to the Royal Gorge Railroad. You can explore the strong arts community and Historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo on the Frontier Pathways Byway, which also illustrates early settlement in Colorado. The Highway of Legends crosses the original Santa Fe Trail in southeastern Colorado. Los Caminos Antigous National Scenic Byway brings you closest to Great Sand Dunes National , which, amazingly, features the tallest sand dunes in America set in a mountain-ringed preserve.
Day 5: Durango
The entire route between Alamosa and Durango is a scenic road through the San Juan Mountains. If, when you reach Durango, you think you’ve seen it before, it’s probably because you’ve seen some western movies. Durango is the picture perfect Old West town that starred as the backdrop for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhangers and many other films. It’s so authentic that you might expect a gunslinger to step right into the street any minute. The nightly show at the Strater Hotel is right out of the old West.
Day 6: Mesa Verde National Park
The expansive dugout area sheltered by massive rock cliffs covered with adobe brick “houses” at Mesa Verde National Park appears to be the individual home units of ancient cliff dwellers. Grab your sense of adventure as you go up and down ladders and through the tight spaces of Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling area. The 6-mile Mesa Top Loop Road driving tour takes you through 700 years of Mesa Verde history. If scenery rather than archeology is your interest, ride the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad up into the San Juan Mountains.
Day 7: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Today you have the pleasure of driving the San Juan Skyway on your way to Montrose and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The unique and spectacular canyon walls rising nearly 3,000 feet in some places were formed by the action of water and rock scouring down through hard crystalline rock. Narrowing to only 40 feet in some places, no other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Day 8: Vail
Vail, Colorado has some of the best skiing in the world, yet it is also a great summer destination. Take the gondola ride up the mountain to get a spectacular view of the rugged Rockies, or hike the same terrain. In town, the pedestrian streets of Vail Village and Lionshead invite serious shoppers and browsers alike to unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, markets and, of course, sporting goods stores. In the evening, find a seat outside for a relaxing drink at the foot of the mountain, or enjoy some of the excellent entertainment on tap nightly.
Day 9: Rocky Mountain National Park
Just north of Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park is a living showcase of grandeur with countless breathtaking vistas ranging from 8,000 to 14,259 feet. Set against this backdrop, you’ll also see delicate alpine flowers, clear lakes, rushing mountain waters, bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, coyote, and elk. There is one major loop road through the park and every square inch is scenic. This is a great way to end your exceptionally beautiful journey through Colorado.
Day 10: Estes Park to Depart Denver