The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Guide

The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Guide

When you can, you should always take the scenic route in life. Road trips are something that makes me feel as if I’ve found my wings. I grew up with road trips during my spring breaks and summers, mixed with being a Colorado native… I’ve spent A LOT of time exploring all the hidden gems, quirky and fun pit stops, and of course, the captivating natural wonders that Colorful Colorado has to offer. 

We made our ultimate Colorado road trip route a nice big loop so you can start from anywhere in big ol’ colorful Colorado. We’ve included bonus stops & alternate routes so you can choose your own adventure. Given that we reign from Fort Collins and are going to assume a lot of people hopping on the road will be flying in from DIA…that makes our first stop Foco! 


First Stop Fort Collins (1 day)

Splashing and walking around Horsetooth Reservoir is a staple activity in Fort Collins for any visitor, which makes it the first stop of our trip. You also need to head over to your favorite Fort Collins based brand, Akinz! Obviously. Load up on some hand-made Colorado gear to kick off your Colorado road trip. If you swing by before heading to Horsetooth, grab your favorite Fort Collins Sunset’ product featuring Horsetooth rock itself for you to represent!


Head South to Denver (1-5 days)*

On your way down to Colorado Springs we have to make some stops in Denver. #1 being of course, Casa Bonita*, a Colorado classic. Gobble up some yummy mexican food while watching divers jump off a 30 ft waterfall into an indoor pool! (Don’t forget to stop in the Mercado to grab some custom handmade beanies from us!)

There are sooooo many more cool and fun things to do in Denver, but here are a couple ideas we have for all types of Denver adventures:

- lifestyle city photo?

Adventuring in and around Colorado Springs (4-5 days)* 

Our Colorado road trip really starts kicking into gear once we hit Colorado Springs. Starting with Garden of the Gods, grab a pair of hiking socks and take a good chunk of the day to explore the various trails! Right next door is *Cave of the Winds, make sure to wrap up in your Verse Hooded Cowl for adventures in the windy caves. Complete with cave tours, zip lines and a ropes course….this stop alone makes the longer route we included worth it in our opinion! 

The Colorado Springs journey is only just beginning…at the edge of the city, visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo! One of the coolest Zoos you’ll ever visit. Their “way more than watching” slogan is apparent with the opportunities to feed and interact with various animals all while in the mountains! 

BONUS STOP #1: Bishops Castle! Hand built by Jim Bishop, this castle of stone and iron has beautiful hand built features that have endless details to explore. Including a bridge between the towers, a metal dragon coming up from the roof and beautiful stained glass windows.  

(adds approximately 1hr 30min of extra driving time)

On our travels west, we have a few more stops. *The Royal Gorge Bridge is a must-see in Colorado. The jaw-dropping view over the Arkansas River from the Royal Gorge Bridge is more than worth it. Take the time to walk out on the bridge for an hour or so, or make a day of it! Royal Gorge has zip lines, rafting and a train you can take that gives you up close views and even comes with snacks!

BONUS STOP #2: Throw on your Akinz sustainable wear to celebrate and say hey to our favorite garden troll, Rita the Rock Planter! Rita and all 119ft of recycled wood that she is, makes for a breathtaking work of art tucked away in the mountains of Rye. She even has a twin named Victor hidden in the woods on the Trollstigen trail in Breckenridge, Colorado.

(adds approximately 2hrs of extra driving time)

Entering the Heart of the Rockies (3-4 days)*

Whoop whoop! We’ve made it to what Colorado is known for, mountains, rivers and more mountains! First stop among the mountains is Mount Princeton Hot Springs, channel those majestic ‘Dawn Rising’ mountain vibes. With multiple types of pools, including rock pools and a water slide! There is something for everyone. If you feel up to it, stop by St. Elmo Ghost Town. Very interesting, historic remains that are inhabited by super friendly chipmunks that love visitors! 

Continuing our water adventures the next day with Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. As one the nations most popular locations for white water rafting and kayaking, this great spot on the Arkansas is in Salida, CO. Rent paddle boards, kayaks, tubes, life jackets and more to take out on one of the man made play holes that are easily accessible by a bike path that runs along the river. A park, performance theater, amphitheater and multiple restaurants sit along the bike path and river, offering a multitude of activities.

BONUS STOP #3: If Mt. Princeton got you in the mood for soaking in the mountains, we have a couple bonus stops on our way south. *Joyful Journey Hot Springs is on the way with a very relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Just down the road is another well known hot springs, *Valley View Hot Springs. If you are traveling with family or kids, we recommend Valley View as it has more space and a welcoming environment for bigger groups! Soak at either and enjoy an amazing view of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. 

(adds approximately 15min of extra driving time)

Next up on our road trip we have some quick, fun, hidden gems for you to explore! Did you know that there is a UFO watchtower in the middle of the San Luis Valley? Well now you do, and it’s so cool. Sport your ‘Leave No Trace tee while visiting Judy Messoline as she retells stories and shares how to spot aliens! Owner and curator of the watchtower.

After taking some time at the watchtower, practically right across the highway, you’ll find the one and only Colorado Gators and Reptile Farm! UFO’s and Colorado…on the same day?! Oh heck yeah. Hold baby alligators, get up close and personal with full grown gators, ostriches and other various animals. 

Days at the Dunes (2-3 days)*

We can’t have your ultimate Colorado road trip without the Great Sand Dunes National Park! The Dunes have diverse landscapes of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes and tundra. Something for every type of outdoor lover. Spend the first day hiking to the top of the dunes or to one of the lakes or waterfalls, or just spend the day relaxing by the stream at the bottom of the dunes.  

We recommend camping either at a campground within the park, or spend the night at our next location, *The Great Sand Dunes Recreation! Time to soak in some fresh, hot mountain waters and take a break from the hard work that is adventuring. 

They offer both campgrounds and lodging options, have a bar and grill restaurant as well as snack shack, and pools for all ages. There is even a secret greenhouse filled with plants, rock hot spring pools, a sauna and a private bar for people over the age of 18. 

Visiting a Sacred Place (1 day)

Set foot into the past at Mesa Verde National Park and explore the Mesa Verde cliffs that were home to the Pueblo people for more than 700 years. Embrace and respect the world heritage of this site by remembering that we all walk under the same sun. Spread the love with our Under the Sun tee while you soak in the ancestry. Not only does Mesa Verde hold loads of history, but the park is home to over a 1000 species, some of which live nowhere else on earth! Time to go exploring! 

North America’s ‘Unmatched’ (1-3 days)*

Bust out our Ascend Mountains tee as you quite literally ascend into the beautiful mountain-scape of Telluride! Also known as North America’s ‘unmatched’ for its jaw dropping scenic views of the mountains and valley. Because it sits up in the mountains, nearly every outdoor activity you can think of is available. Fishing, canoeing, zip-lining, tubing, hiking, biking, rock climbing… you name it! 

If you need a break from all the outdoor galavanting, luckily for you, the town of Telluride is just as beautiful as the nature surrounding it. Perusing all the local shops and social spots is sometimes the best way to get to know a small town! While wandering around, check out the Sheridan Opera House, the Telluride Historical Museum or soak in the views on the free 12min Gondola


As you work your way back up north, I recommend taking the time to spend the afternoon at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Overwhelming yet captivating, take a hike or even just walk to the lookout point of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Gaze upon the vast beauty that naturally formed over 200 million years. 

Pairing with Palisade (1 day)

The city of Palisade says that they pair well with adventure and we are inclined to agree. Much like Telluride, Palisade truly hits the sweet spot between plenty of outdoor shenanigans and in town activities. Sip and sit at one of the many wineries, go picking in the orchards, or plunge into the outdoors of Palisade with hiking or biking. Akinz owner and founder, Suzanne, especially loves to go to Palisade to shred on her mountain bike. Make sure to send it in your Hero Dirt merch of choice if you take after Suzanne ;) 

Gallivanting in Glenwood Springs (1-2 days)*

Once you get to Glenwood, you have to visit possible one of the most iconic Colorado trails, the *Hanging Lake Trail. A slightly rigorous but rewarding hike, comes with inspiring views, soft waterfalls and the Hanging Lake in the heart of Glenwood Canyon that will simply leave you in awe. Perfect spot for a post hike picnic! 

Take some time afterwards to explore more of Glenwood Springs. Kick off the day playing around *Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and wind down from the last two days with the relaxing *Glenwood Hot Springs!

Rounding it up at Rocky Mountain National Park (2 days)

As we creep up on the last few days, our last big stop before the grande finale of our ultimate Colorado road trip is *Rocky Mountain National Park located by Estes. Channel your inner Lorax with your choice of Akinz’ I Speak for the Treesseries while soaking in the mountain air and 415 square miles of forest, trails, lakes, meadows and wildlife around you. 

While you’re in Estes, any lovers of the supernatural especially need to visit the iconic *Stanley Hotel. Steven King stayed here, inspiring one of his most famous novels, The Shining. The Stanley offers ghost tours around the grounds and the opportunity to stay in “spirited rooms” that tend to have regular paranormal activity. 

Represent our ode to CU territory with our Thunderbeast’ tee as you enter Boulder. Although it pains us as their rivals to say that they have sights worth seeing, you gotta stop for the sights that the Flatirons have to give. The city of Boulder has countless attractions to check out if you have more time.

Music on the Rocks!(1 night)

As we circle back to Denver, get ready to party! Spend the early afternoon taking a tour and sipping on some classic Coors over at the *Coors Brewing in Golden. Take some beer with you on the road, grab your Akinz koozie, a festival blanket and it’s time for the big finale of our ultimate Colorado road trip… *RED ROCKS!!!

We can’t have a Colorado road trip without stopping at Red Rocks. There is nothing better than tailgating at sunset with a beer in hand, being surrounded by the towering rocks, then watching some live music with the cityscape of Denver and stars in the background. On the off chance you didn’t fall in love with Colorful Colorado on our road trip before now: live music amidst one of nature's masterpieces will definitely steal your heart away. 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for exploring all the eccentric, classic and enchanting nooks and crannies of Colorado with us! Hopefully this road trip adventure was one of many for the books. Share your stories, thoughts and personal twists you put on our ultimate Colorado road trip guide! We hope this adventure was one with lots of love and laughter, new and unforgettable experiences, but most of all that you found your wings somewhere along the way :) 

  • *These places may require reservations in advance for certain activities or lodging.
  • *Length of stay is dependent on activities chosen 

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