Go Outdoors: summer bucket list

Nevin Fowler

Ready or not: summer is here. If you’re like me, then a busy spring schedule has inhibited your summer planning.  Fear not; by using the methodical scientific process of asking friends about their favorite spots in Colorado, I created a comprehensive bucket list of the perfect summer getaways. Admittedly, some friends were more helpful than others. One friend, Alexei, helpfully responded with, “any place that will keep me cool.” He then graciously provided a list of “cool” places, with the first two having shade and AC.

That being said, staying cool is a top priority of mine as well and I won’t be sending anyone to the desert for summer vacation. 



(Telluride / courtesy Wikimedia)
(Telluride / image courtesy Wikimedia)

Telluride, a small mountain town nestled into the southern mountains of Colorado, is the perfect summer getaway. The town has grown from its original roots as a mining town into an adventurer’s paradise. Telluride sits at just above 8,500 feet and provides access to incredible mountain terrain.

Activities: Raft the San Miguel River, hike the 14,000′ El Diente, climb at Norwood, or mountain bike the San Juan Hut System.

Insider hint: Try to plan a trip near the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 16-19.


(Steamboat / courtesy Wikimedia)
(Steamboat / courtesy Wikimedia)

Steamboat is a town in the north western mountains of Colorado. The beauty of this getaway is the lack of traffic. Steamboat is far away from I-70 and the tourist traps of southern Colorado. The mountains surrounding the town are rolling and separated by large valleys. The beauty lies in the sweeping aspen groves and grassy meadows. 

Activities: Though Steamboat offers mountain biking, rafting and hiking, the area is best known for relaxation. Fly fish the Yampa River, enjoy a gondola ride, and end the day by soaking in the Old Town Hot Springs.

Insider Hint: Check out Strawberry Park for a secluded mountain hot springs experience.

Rocky Mountain National Park

(Rocky Mountain National Park / Collegian File Photo)
(Rocky Mountain National Park / Collegian File Photo)

RMNP provides the perfect escape from the summer heat. Much of the park is at high elevation, and access to above tree line is easy to find. The National Park boasts the highest continues paved road in the country, which peruses the Continental Divide and drops into the less crowded western side of the park.

Activities: The park provides unparalleled access to world class climbing and mountaineering. Don’t worry, there are numerous activities for those who don’t enjoy hanging by their fingers on a cliff. The National Park status provides protection to the wildlife, giving visitors the chance to see animals and fauna that may not be found elsewhere. Nature hikes are a great way to enjoy the park and walking the town of Estes Park is a great way to end the day.

Insider HintEd’s Cantina has the best Mexican food in the known world, and Kind Coffee is a great way to get a caffeine fix.

Buena Vista

(Buena Vista / image courtesy Wikimedia)
(Buena Vista / image courtesy Wikimedia)

Buena Vista is located in southern Colorado, directly to the west of Colorado Springs and south of Breckenridge. The town sits at the foot of multiple fourteen thousand foot mountains, which provide an astonishing scene at sunset.


Activities: The surrounding area provides endless entertainment for all types of activity lovers. Raft the Arkansas River, hike 14ers, soak in hot springs, climb at crags, or enjoy a movie at the drive in. Buena Vista has it all. 

Insider Hint: Cottonwood Hot Springs is one of the best places to stay in the area, and is undoubtedly the best hot springs in the region. The Browns Canyon section of the Arkansas River provides some of the best rafting in the state!

North Michigan Reservoir

(State Forest State Park / image courtesy colorado.gov)
(State Forest State Park / image courtesy colorado.gov)

The North Michigan Reservoir is located in State Forest State Park. Nestled against the west side of the great divide, the high altitude makes this location the perfect cool summer getaway. This is also the best area in Colorado to see moose. Reintroduced twenty years ago into State Forest State Park, the once extinct Colorado moose population is now thriving. That being said, the entire park is a pristine and diverse alpine environment.

Activities: This area is perfect for camping and relaxing. Abundant with lakes and rivers, all of which provide excellent fishing opportunities. This is also an excellent location to see wildlife and go on nature walks. Kayaking, running, hiking and mountain biking are also very popular in the area.

Insider Hint: Stay in the rustic cabins by the lake, or hike in to one of the many yurts in the state park.


Collegian Blogger Nevin Fowler can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com, on Twitter @nevintfowler or on Instagram @nevintfowler.