Colorado’s most unique summer attractions

Alaysha Powell

Colorado is mainly known for its popular attractions, such as downtown Denver or Rocky Mountain National Park. But as many of us know, Colorado is full of adventurous locations. And what better time to explore the state than during summer vacation? Here are some unique and unusual places to visit in Colorado:

Dinosaur Ridge

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Located in Morrison, Colorado, this unique attraction provides outdoor adventures with a one of a kind experience. Dinosaur Ridge is a hiking preserve that offers two trails you can either hike on by yourself or with a guided tour. But what really makes this place stand out is that there are actual fossilized dinosaur footprints along the hiking trails. 

Hanging Lake

Hanging Lake is located at the Glenwood Canyon Cliffs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. To experience Hanging Lake, you first have to prepare yourself for a rigorous hike uphill. However, the clear waters and waterfalls that make up the lake are definitely worth the work. Its breathtaking views are what make Hanging Lake stand out among the other Colorado lakes, and the required hike makes the adventure even more special. 

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

While snow sledding is a fairly common practice in most Colorado towns, the people down in Medano Creek do things a little differently. Among other activities like hiking and swimming, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve offers visitors the activity of sand sledding on the tallest sand dunes in North America.

Garden of the Gods

Despite being damaged by a fire a few years ago, Garden of the Gods really does live up to its name. It is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is home to a plentiful amount of plants and wildlife. Activities include rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding and biking. But this location is so beautiful, most people enjoy just finding a peaceful place to relax and look at the scenery. 

Swetsville Zoo

If you hear the word zoo and picture exhibits with exotic animals, then, in this case, you are mistaken. Swetsville Zoo is actually a zoo of sculptures crafted out of junkyard parts. And luckily, Swetsville Zoo is located right here in Fort Collins. The man behind these bizarre creations is Bill Swets, who creates all the sculptures himself.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument 

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Located in Cortez, Colorado, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was previously home to a pre-puebloan group called the Basketmakers. This monument is a great way to learn more about how ancient civilizations used to live. 

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Not far from Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is Paint Mines Interpretive Park. This park is also educational in regards to ancient civilizations. In fact, the park has proof of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. Ancient civilizations enjoyed this area for several reasons, including the colorful clay. 

Mesa Verde National Park 

Mesa Verde is yet another place in Colorado that is known for ancient populations. Located in Mesa Verde, Colorado, this national park has an actual city sculpted out of stone on the side of cliff dwellings. It is also one of the best preserved archaeological sites in the country. 

Royal Gorge

Royal Gorge is a very popular place in Canon City, Colorado, for several reasons. Visitors can find one of the world’s highest suspension bridges and a water clock that can only be found at two other places in the world. Activities include going on an aerial gondola or zip lining over the gorge.  

Collegian Arts and Culture reporter Alaysha Powell can be reached online at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter at @alaysha_powell.