Family Vacations in Colorado


Longs Peak stands tallest in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers can take the Keyhole Route to ascend almost 5,000 feet.
Longs Peak stands tallest in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hikers can take the Keyhole Route to ascend almost 5,000 feet.

From the Pueblo Ruins and Pikes Peak to the most popular hot springs in the country, Colorado is a bundle of extremes, offering unique experiences at every turn. Families can enjoy wilderness walks or railway rides, rafting or rock climbing, sightseeing or relaxing in soothing spring-fed waters. The possibilities for fun and adventure are varied and virtually limitless in the state of Colorado.

In the following article, you'll find profiles of some of the state's most popular activities and must-see attractions. Included is contact information to help you plan your trip as well as photos of each destination. Here's a preview:

The Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs is second only to Mount Fuji in Japan for the most travelers to its summit. You'll ride in style on the world's highest cog railway and travel through a variety of ecosystems. Kids will enjoy trying to spot wildlife along the route.

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

This king-size swimming pool in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is more than three city blocks long. Located about 40 miles northwest of Aspen, it's the world's largest hot mineral pool and is naturally heated to a comfortable 90 to 93 degrees year-round.

Telluride

Your family will love vacationing in this picture-perfect western boomtown.

Pikes Peak

Visitors can hike the 13-mile trail to a height of 7,000 feet, or they can avoid breaking a sweat and take the cog railway (since 1889) or highway (since 1916) to the top. Pikes Peak also plays host to several annual events, including celebratory fireworks displays, a marathon, and the second oldest car race in the United States.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

In Morrison, Colorado, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is nestled in the stunning mountainside and natural red rocks. Its acoustics are superb, perhaps rivaled only by the beauty of its spectacular surroundings.

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Shambhala Mountain Center

Cradled in the pine-clad mountains near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is the largest stupa (monument to a great Buddhist teacher) in the western hemisphere. It is also the largest and most elaborate example of Buddhist sacred architecture in North America.

Continue reading to discover the manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Denver City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Mile High City.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: The Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Photo courtesy of Pikes Peak Cog Railway Getting to the top of Pikes Peak is half the fun aboard Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs is second only to Mount Fuji in Japan for having the most travelers to its summit. Although you can get there on foot or by car, the best way to get to the top is to take a ride on the delightful old-fashioned cog railway.

The railway began service in 1891, and it hasn't changed much since then. During the ride, which lasts just over three hours round-trip, visitors often catch glimpses of the state's largest herd of bighorn sheep, as well as marmots, deer, and elk.

The view from the 14,110-foot summit is astonishing and offers a panorama of Denver from 60 miles away, as well as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the historic Cripple Creek Gold Camp, and the majestic mountains that form the Continental Divide. It so inspired Katherine Lee Bates, a Massachusetts author and teacher who visited the summit in1893, that she composed the lyrics to America the Beautiful.

At the top of Pikes Peak, be sure to sample the world-famous high-altitude donuts. These tasty treats have been made with the same recipe since the early 1900s.

The Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway Information

Address: 515 Ruxton Ave

Manitou Springs, CO

Telephone: 719/685-5401

Hours of Operation: Nov - March, limited operating schedule

Admission: $32 adults; $17.50 kids

From the top of a mountain to the bottom of a pool, Glenwood Hot Springs Pool in Colorado is a three-block long natural hot spring. Learn about taking a naturally warm dip on the next page.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Denver City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Mile High City.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

Photo courtesy Pat Murray Collection Glenwood Hot Springs Pool was President Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite summer vacation spot.

Open all year, no matter what the weather, this king-size swimming pool in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is more than three city blocks long. Located about 40 miles northwest of Aspen, it's the world's largest hot mineral pool and is naturally heated to a comfortable 90 to 93 degrees year-round.

Kids love cascading down the pool's two giant waterslides and playing in the warm, relaxing water. There are lanes for lap swimmers, diving boards, a special shallow pool for younger kids, and plenty of splashing room for everyone. Tired from a day of hiking and sightseeing? You can relax in the smaller therapy pool heated to 104 degrees. Pop a quarter into the "bubble chairs" for a special massage.

During the winter months, steam rises from the pool in thick, misty clouds, and snowflakes melt the second they hit the water. It's not uncommon to see swimmers hop out of the pool and do a polar bear roll in the snow on the deck. During summer, families pack up the picnic baskets and stake out their turf in the lawn area or on the patio next to the pool. It's a relaxing way to spend the day.

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool Information

Address: CO-82 and 6th St

Glenwood Springs, CO

Telephone: 970/945-6571, 800/537-7946

Hours of Operation:

  • May - Sept: 7:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Sept - May: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Admission: $14.75 adults; $9.25 kids

Can't stand the heat? Get out of the pool and check out the slopes of Colorado's Telluride ski country town on the next page.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: Telluride

Tucked among the snow-capped                                  Rockies, Telluride is a skier's paradise.
Tucked among the snow-capped Rockies, Telluride is a skier's paradise.

Telluride is one of the most alluring towns in the West. This picture-perfect Western boomtown is nestled in a snug box canyon and surrounded by forested peaks and idyllic waterfalls. It is the perfect blend of ski resort and historic community.

According to local legend, Telluride derived its name from a contraction of "to hell you ride," due to the difficulty of reaching the town in the 19th century. Telluride's beginning years in the late 1800s were marked by ambition. The silver veins in the surrounding mountains proved exceptionally rich. The newfound wealth of the town lured outlaws such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -- Butch's first bank robbery was at the San Miguel Valley Bank in downtown Telluride.

The town became one of the world's first electric communities, boasting electric lighting even before Paris, the "City of Lights." But Telluride's mining economy faltered after World War I, beginning a long, slow period of decline. The United States Postal Service gave up on the town, and the population dropped to 600. Downtown lots sold for as little as $100, and many structures began to deteriorate. But in 1972, the Telluride Ski Resort was born, and the population of miners gave way to Bohemians.

The town's destiny -- which at one point appeared to be total abandonment -- changed suddenly. The entire town has been a National Landmark Historic District since 1964, and this status has kept its lovely character intact.

Telluride Information

Address: Telluride Tourism Board

630 W Colorado Ave., Telluride, CO

Telephone: 888/605-2578

Continue to the next page to read about Pike's Peak.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: Pikes Peak

The snow-capped majesty of Pikes Peak looms over the red rock formations of Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs.
The snow-capped majesty of Pikes Peak looms over the red rock formations of Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs.

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike first spied this 14,110-foot mountain along Colorado's Front Range in November 1806. But his attempt to scale the mountain that now bears his name was foiled by heavy snow, and Pike said the rocky pinnacle would never be reached. Never say never. In 1820, a party led by Major Stephen Long reached the top of Pikes Peak in two days. They were the first to see the commanding views from the mountaintop. Today, more than half a million people make it to the summit house each year. Of course, nowadays reaching the peak of the mountain is less daunting.

Visitors can hike the 13-mile trail to a height of 7,000 feet, or they can avoid breaking a sweat and take the cog railway (since 1889) or highway (since 1916) to the top. In fact, "America's Mountain" is the most visited mountain in North America. Only Japan's Mount Fuji has more visitors each year. Pikes Peak plays host to several annual events, including celebratory fireworks displays, a marathon, and the second oldest car race in the United States: the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, featuring 156 twists and turns on its 12.4-mile route.

Pikes Peak Information

Address: 10 Miles W. on Hwy. 24

Cascade, CO

Telephone: 719/385-PEAK, 800-318-9505

Hours of Operation:

  • Memorial Day - Labor Day: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., daily
  • Day after Labor Day - End of Sept: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., daily
  • Oct - Memorial Day: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Admission: $10 adults; $5 kids

Continue on to the next page for details about family vacations to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Denver City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Denver.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Colorado Tourism Office. The giant Creation Rock and Ship Rock frame Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The dramatic red rock formations that give the amphitheatre its name are both visually striking and accoustically ideal.

In Morrison, Colorado, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is nestled in the stunning mountainside and natural red rocks. Its acoustics are superb, perhaps rivaled only by the beauty of its spectacular surroundings. The north and south sides of the amphitheatre are 300-foot geological masterstrokes named Creation Rock and Ship Rock, respectively. The seats stretch across the steep slope between the two.

In the early 20th century, John Brisben Walker hatched a plan to develop a world-class performance venue here. He went as far as building a temporary platform where he staged numerous concerts featuring leading stars of the East Coast opera scene. But Walker's vision wasn't fully realized until decades later.

In the 1920s, the city of Denver bought the land and enlisted the help of the federal government. Red Rocks Amphitheatre was completed in 1947; the venue's first annual Easter Sunrise Service, a tradition that continues to this day, occurred that first year. A "Who's Who" of the music world has taken the stage here, including Willie Nelson, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead.

Concert industry trade journal Pollstar named Red Rocks its "Best Outdoor Venue" every year from 1989 to 1993 and its "Best Small Outdoor Venue" every year from 1995 to 1999. It then dropped the amphitheatre from consideration -- and named the small outdoor venue award after Red Rocks.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre Information

Address: Visitor Center

18300 W. Alameda Pkwy

Morrison, CO

Telephone: 720/865-2494

Hours of Operation: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m., daily

Admission: Free

Continue on to the next page for details on family vacations to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Shambhala Mountain Center.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Denver City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Denver.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

Family Vacations in Colorado: Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Shambhala Mountain

© Shambhala Mountain Center.

Cradled in the pine-clad mountains near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is the largest stupa (monument to a great Buddhist teacher) in the western hemisphere. It is also the largest and most elaborate example of Buddhist sacred architecture in North America.

The monument was built in honor of the great Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), the founder of the Shambhala movement and one of the key figures who helped introduce Tibetan Buddhism to the United States. He established more than 100 meditation centers across the United States and founded the first Buddhist-inspired university in the country, Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His skull is encased in the large statue of Buddha in the chamber at the stupa's base, called the heart center.

Construction on the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya began in 1988, and the monument was consecrated in 2001. The 108-foot masterpiece is a mesmerizing work of ornate art, laden with meaningful symbolism and built to last a millennium. (The engineers behind it used reinforced concrete to maximize the stupa's durability.) Stupas in the West have come to represent the contrast between modern and ancient world views. The interior of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is spacious. Its design and artwork reflect a connection of Japanese aesthetics and Shambhala teachings.

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Shambhala Mountain Center Information

Address: 4921 County Rd 68C

Red Feather Lakes, CO

Telephone: 970/881-2184

Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., daily

Admission: Free

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Colorado State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Colorado, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.