Rocky Mountain Drive Tours in CO | Best Western Hotels

  

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Denver & Rocky Mountains

Explore the Mile High City with anticipated detours to Fort Collins, Estes Park, and Boulder. Here you'll find festive, college-town atmospheres and incredible cultural sites, plus the public art of Loveland, fairs and rodeos in Aurora and Longmont, and the unmatched scenery of the Rocky Mountains National Park.

Castle Rock

A former railroad town, Castle Rock is located in north-central Colorado along Interstate 25.

Must See

Castle Rock…the Castle Rock. A butte found in the Colorado Piedmont, the town’s namesake formation is definitely worth a visit. Reaching 370 feet, the rock is located just north of downtown in Rock Park.

Local Guide

The Castle Rock Historical Society & Museum focuses on the city’s area and history ­ and has showcases exhibits like “History of Firefighting in Castle Rock.” The museum is housed in the 1875 Denver & Rio Grande Depot – listed on both the Castle Rock Register of Local Landmarks and the National Register of Historic Places.

Outdoor

Try hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and nature viewing at Castlewood Canyon State Park – just southeast of Castle Rock. Hit the Cherry Creek Trail or the East Canyon Preservation Area trail, and be sure to catch the view from the Bridge Canyon Overlook.

Side Trip! Burlington

The city of Burlington just over a two-hour drive from Castle Rock along State Route 86 and Interstate 70. The seat of Kit Carson County, Burlington is a fun and historic town in eastern Colorado.

Must See

The Kit Carson County Carousel is a 1905 product of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company – and pride of Burlington. Found at the Kit Carson County Fairgrounds, this U.S. National Historic Landmark is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Also known as the Elitch Gardens Carousel, this antique is the last one of its kind.

Local Guide

The Old Town Museum is a six-acre historic site and living museum for visitors to the Central Plains. Featuring 21 restored structures, Old Town focuses on the agricultural heritage and history of the Burlington area. Check out the Old Town General Store & Emporium, catch the Old Town Ghost Town, or hop a ride on the Old Town Express.

Outdoor

If you’re looking to shoot around on the Central Plains, check out the nine-hole Prairie Pines Golf Coursefor a quick game. This public course opened in 1971, and features 2,906 yards of golf with a par of 35 – plus a 10-tee driving range.

Aurora

Colorado’s third largest city, Aurora lies in the eastern region of metro Denver. Home to the Buckley Air Force Base and over 6,000 acres of parkland, the Sunrise of Colorado is yet another fun stop on your tour of north-central Colorado.

Must See

Set in the Southlands District, the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds is home to the century-old Arapahoe County Fair & Rodeo. A great way to check out Colorado’s western culture, the fair is held in late July – while the rodeo is sanctioned by the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association.

Local Guide

Found in the Aurora Municipal Center Complex, the free, community-based Aurora History Museum was established in 1979 – and open Tuesday through Sunday. Collections exhibit Aurora icons like the DeLaney Round Barn.

Outdoor

Covering over 3,300 acres, Cherry Creek State Park features summer activities like fishing, boating, and beach lounging. Established in 1959, this Colorado state park also features trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding – plus cross country skiing, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

Denver

Colorado’s capital and largest city, Denver acts as a hub for culture, sports, history, and industry. Known as the Mile-High City and Wall Street of the West, Denver features surrounding communities like Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Brighton, and Louisville.

Must See

Denver’s cultural attractions are an unmatched collection of museum, historic site, and of course, the Colorado State Capitol. Check out the Denver Mint, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum.

Local Guide

Kids activities are abundant in Mile High City. Take the family to the Elitch Gardens Theme Park, the Denver Zoo, and the Children's Museum of Denver.

Outdoor

We’ll get to the Rocky Mountains in a bit, but if you’re trying to see some action check out the many sports teams in Denver. Visit MLB’s Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, NBA’s Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, and NFL’s Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.

Longmont

Set north of central Denver along I-25, Longmont is a historic city with plenty to see and do.

Must See

Open daily, the free Longmont Museum & Cultural Center features exhibits on the history of Longmont and the north central region of Colorado. The museum offers programs like Discovery Days, exhibits like Planes, Train & Automobiles, summer concerts, and a museum store.

Local Guide

Check out the annual Boulder County Fair at the, you guessed it, Boulder County Fairgrounds. Established in 1869, the fair is held in early August, and features 4-H exhibits, a carnival and parade, and the Boulder County Rodeo.

Outdoor

Set in Firestone just east of Longmont, the 700-acre St. Vrain State Park was established 1965. Formerly known as Barbour Ponds, St. Vrain features bird watching, fishing, and hiking.

Loveland

Set north of Longmont along Route 287, Loveland is known as Sweetheart City – and known for an incredible arts scene and romantic atmosphere.

Must See

Historic Downtown Loveland is full of unique history and art. Check out the Rialto Theatre Center and the Loveland Museum & Gallery, plus restaurants, boutiques, and public art.

Local Guide

Loveland is also known for a variety of bronze sculptures throughout town. Have a look at this unique art form at Lundeen Studios, Dee Clements Studio, and Independence Gallery. You can also try foundry tours at Art Castings of Colorado and Bronze Services Fine Art Foundry.

Outdoor

For fishing, boating, and sunshine, check out the nearby Boyd Lake State Park. This 1,700-acre fishing hole offers bass, catfish, trout, and walleye – plus swimming, hiking, and biking.

Side Trip: Sterling!

Known as “A Colorado Treasure,” Sterling is set in northeastern Colorado – just 100 miles directly east of Ft. Collins.

Must See

For travelers looking to find more Old West adventure, try the Overland Trail Museum. This living museum commemorates early settlers following the Overland Trail – which was a branch of the Oregon Trail. Check out the schoolhouse, Herford Depot, Print Shop, or the July Heritage Festival.

Local Guide

Summer travelers can catch the Logan County Fair & Rodeo – established in 1913. Don’t miss 4-H shows, carnival rides and games, great fair fare, live music, a demolition derby, and of course, a rodeo – all at the at the Logan County Fairgrounds.

Outdoor

Splash around in the North Sterling Reservoir at North Sterling State Park – just northwest of town. Try swimming, fishing, boating, and even waterskiing in the waters of the South Platte River.

Fort Collins

Approximately 14 miles north of Loveland is Fort Collins, home to Colorado State University.

Must See

Fort Collins is a beer-loving city. The area is home to New Belgium Brewery, Odell Brewery, Fort Collins Brewery, and the Budweiser Brewery. Just be sure to catch Colorado Brewer's Festival in late June.

Local Guide

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is divided into the Fort Collins Museum and the Discovery Science Center. The Fort Collins Museum features 30,000 artifacts in the old Carnegie Library. And for science fans, the Discover Science Center offers 120 interactive exhibits.

Outdoor

The Horsetooth Reservoir is set just west of Fort Collins, and yields boating, fishing, and swimming, plus a 25-mile beach. Horsetooth park also offers hiking cycling, and wildlife viewing.

Estes Park

Set southwest of Fort Collins – and immediately west of Loveland along US-34 – Estes Park is a stunning Colorado city on the Big Thompson River. Estes Park is best known as the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park.

Must See

Downtown Estes Park is a quaint, pedestrian-friendly area featuring eateries, shops, art galleries, ice cream parlors, bookshops, and much more. Stroll the Riverwalk, check out a jazz festival, try a wine tasting, or just enjoy the atmosphere.

Local Guide

Estes Park features site of the inspiration behind the hit novel “The Shining.” Novelist Stephen King roomed at the Stanley Hotel – a U.S. Historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places – in 1973. The spot today was the filming site for “The Shining” miniseries, "Dumb and Dumber," and more.

Visitors can try the 90-minute Stanley Tour, the Night Ghost Tour, the Stanley History Experience, and the Ghost Stories tour.

Outdoor

Covering 265,000 acres, the famed Rocky Mountain National Park attracts more than three million annual visitors. Be sure to hike Alberta Falls, Ouzel Falls, the loop tour around Bear Lake, or any of the other trails totaling 349 miles.

Other activities include rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and visiting the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center – a National Historic Landmark.

Boulder

An hour southeast of Estes Park, Boulder is a festive city home to the University of Colorado. A stunning city back-dropped by the Flatirons formations, Boulder features plenty to see and do.

Must See

Established in 1876, CU features a stunning 786-acre campus open to visitors. Explore the university for stops like the CU Art Museum, Fiske Planetarium & Science Center, the University of Colorado Heritage Center, and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

Local Guide

Pearl Street Mall – also known as Downtown Boulder – is another quaint, pedestrian-friendly downtown area in Colorado. Encompassing the Boulder County Courthouse, Pearl Street features boutique shopping, street cafés, farmers markets, festivals, and much more.

Outdoor

A great example of the great outdoors, Chautauqua Park offers hiking, biking, tennis, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Trekkers can hit the Chautauqua Trailhead in this free, 14-acre park.

 

From beautiful Boulder, it's about a 25-mile drive back to Denver to complete your loop tour of northern Colorado's parks, towns, and culture.