3 Best Parks in Colorado: The Nature-Lover's Guide


It’s no surprise that Colorado represents the pinnacle of western scenery in the United States. Whether it’s the soaring 14,000-foot peaks, the alpine lakes, the ski culture, or the dunes, Colorado’s landscape is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

If this is your first visit to the Centennial State, we recommend starting with its national parks. Read on to learn more about the best national parks in Colorado. You will learn about their geographical features, their most popular sights for adventuring, and the best time for a visit.

Best National Parks in Colorado

These national parks in Colorado feature spectacular sights and plenty to do. Read on to learn more about what each one has to offer.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Stretching for 415 square miles, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses several ecological features. Evergreen forests, crystal-clear lakes, and rugged mountains are just some of its stunning features. This park is also home to 77 peaks that surpass 12,000 feet. For your visit, check out the following destinations:

  • Trail Ridge Road: At 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous auto road in the United States. While you’ll have to travel 48 miles from either Estes Park or Grand Lake, the 360 degree views of the Rockies from the top are worth it!
  • Twin Sisters Peak: This is a great opportunity if you’re seeking a moderately difficult hike with 7 miles of trail. While the terrain becomes rugged at around 11,000 feet, the panoramic views of nearby peaks at the summit make up for it. 
  • Sprague Lake: This is a scenic lake on the south side of Glacier Creek where you can find diverse wildlife inhabiting the area. You also get commanding views of the Continental Divide. 

Mid-fall is the best time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park since crowds begin to dwindle at this point. Plus, you can still explore some hiking trails before the snow arrives.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

With over 30 square miles of some of the highest dunes in North America, it’s no wonder that Great Sand Dunes National Park is on this list. Located alongside the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, this national park is not only home to massive dunes but is also a habitat for distinct nearby ecosystems. These include grasslands and wetlands. Check out the following destinations on your visit:

  • Star Dune: At 755 feet in elevation, Star Dune is one of the highest dunes in North America. If you plan on hiking it, plan for anywhere between 5 and 9 hours.
  • Zapata Falls: Zapata Falls is a hidden 25-foot waterfall that hikers and visitors can reach via a short rocky trail. Keep in mind that you’ll have to maneuver over slippery rocks and chilly waters to reach this hidden gem.
  • Medano Creek: Formed by an abundance of snowmelt, Medano Creek offers a recreational oasis for those seeking some summer fun. You can surf, float down in rafts, and even skimboard, depending on the water level.

While visitors can visit the park year-round, it’s recommended to come down either during the spring or fall season. Even though nighttime summer temperatures are relatively cool, the dunes can easily surpass 100 degrees during midday! 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes visitors to a very distinct landscape scenery. Located in western Colorado, this park is a rare beauty composed of 30,750 acres of wilderness, narrow canyons, enormous cliffs, and a vast river. It’s no wonder that Black Canyon is considered one of the best national parks in Colorado. Check out the following destinations on your trip:

  • North Rim: The North Rim of the canyon is considered a remote area of the park where visitors are treated to nearby trails and inner canyon experiences. Keep in mind, however, that the North Rim is closed off to vehicles during the winter season.
  • South Rim: The South Rim drive takes you through 12 overlooks, each of them accessible via short trails. Compared to the North Rim, this section is usually the more crowded of the two given its access to several canyon viewpoints.
  • North Vista Trail to Exclamation Point: With only 3 miles of hiking on mostly flat terrain, this trail provides an opportunity to experience the remoteness of Black Canyon. Plus, there are numerous other viewpoints you can visit in addition to Exclamation Point. 

Deciding when to visit this park is best left up to you. If large crowds and high temperatures are a concern for you, then you’ll want to avoid visiting Black Canyon during the summer. That said, access to the park is limited during the winter. 

Visit Colorado National Parks With an RV Rental

As you plan out your adventure to one (or more) of the best national parks in Colorado, make sure you stop by your nearest Cruise America and learn more about their selection of RVs.

With so many customized RV rentals at your disposal, you can rest assured that you and your family will enjoy the modern conveniences needed for RV traveling.

Contact Cruise America today and start your adventure!