Colorado’s fabled Rocky Mountains have inspired artists and beckoned to the adventurous-in-spirit for centuries, but many people aren’t aware that it is home to a wide variety of landscapes beyond the state’s mountains. Colorado’s terrain includes high plains, desert, alpine tundra, mesas, canyons, vast fossil beds, and the Colorado River Basin.

It is no surprise that with such unique and varied geological and biological diversity Colorado has 4 National Parks, 5 National Monuments, 4 National Historic Trails, and 3 National Historic Sites. It is a playground for recreationists, ecologists, and historians alike. It also happens to be one of our favorite states to explore by RV. Come along with us as we take you through Colorado’s four unforgettable National Parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Starting with the most famous, Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide and encompasses more than 400 square miles of pristine mountain landscapes. This is the landscape that comes to mind when humming along to John Denver’s, “Rocky Mountain High.” Jagged peaks standing in contrast to bluebird skies, clear cold trout streams burbling down mountainsides, hundreds of wildflower species dotting hillsides, and hikers rejoicing with 300+ miles of trails to explore.

T&T Travel Tip If you enter the park from the western Grand Lake side in summertime, you can travel Trail Ridge Road — the highest continuous paved road in the U.S. — take in the vistas, cross the Continental Divide, and then exit the park through the eastern Estes Park Gate. There, reward yourself with a stop at the historic bar in the infamous Stanley Hotel where The Shining was filmed. Pick a rocking chair on the hotel’s front porch to watch elk herds graze on the lawns.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

One of the least visited and most stunning of the National Parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, is a masterclass in the power of water. Carved over millions of years by the Gunnison River, the National Park Service aptly describes the canyon as “deep, steep, and narrow.” Craggy spires and cliffs of exposed black and pink rock bands are a striking backdrop to any adventure. Choose a hiking trail that fits your fitness level and find vistas overlooking some of the most magnificent terrain in Colorado.

T&T Travel Tip Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a certified Dark Sky Park. Make sure to take a few minutes at the end of the night to turn out your lights and experience the cosmos as you never have before.

Mesa Verde National Park

Driving through the gates of Mesa Verde National Park is like entering a portal to the past. It is both a National Park and also a World Heritage Site. The park preserves the incredible Pueblo cliff dwellings and homesites sacred to the descendents who still inhabit the Southwest to this day. There is nothing like climbing the ladders, crawling through passageways, and feeling the history and culture that lives in the walls of Mesa Verde.

T&T Travel Tip From Mesa Verde, it is only a 90-minute drive to reach the Four Corners Monument where you can stand in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico all at once.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park has the tallest sand dunes in North America. Standing in stark contrast to the green and gray peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the bright blue sky, these sand mountains shoot skyward in a playground for both the young and the young-at-heart. Just before you reach the park entrance, there is a spot to rent sandboards and sand sleds for an extra adventurous trek through the dunes. Climb up, sled down, then cool your feet and play in the seasonal runoff that forms Medano Creek at the base in the months of May and June. It is a remarkable experience to feel like you’re in the Rockies, in the Sahara, and at the beach all at once.

T&T Travel Tip The Piñon Flats Campground puts you in the heart of the park and is a beautiful place to watch the sunset over the dunes and check out the stars at this International Dark Sky location.

If anyone in your group needs extra consideration for moving around the dunes, sand wheelchairs can be reserved by calling the park.

Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde & Central Colorado

Our Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde & Central Colorado trip will take you on an unforgettable adventure through some of the most stunning places in Colorado and Utah.

Starting from Denver, you’ll head through the Rockies to soak in the Glenwood Hot Springs, Cruise to Moab to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, climb your way through the enchanting ruins of Mesa Verde National Park, hang out in Durango, then head to the art and recreation town of Salida, AKA “The Heart of the Rockies,” before returning to Denver to complete your trip.