Sprague Lake surrounded by trees with mountains in the background, with their reflection on a mirror-like lake

16 Best Road Trips from Colorado Springs

Published by Dianne Titos on December 20 2023

Colorado Springs, nestled at the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains, is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, and as you might expect, this scenic city serves as the perfect starting point for some of the most breathtaking road trips in the United States.

Our comprehensive list of the 16 best road trips from Colorado Springs covers a great variety of destinations perfect for those seeking thrilling outdoor activities, peaceful nature escapes or a deep dive into the historical roots of the American West.

Whether it's a short day trip to nearby state parks, a weekend getaway to charming mountain towns, or an epic drive to some of the most famous national parks in the region, this article has got you covered. Read on to find out about what makes each road trip special, our handpicked highlights, and useful travel tips.

Best road trips from Colorado Springs

A selection of our best road trips from Colorado Springs. Check out our full list of 16 trips below.
Trip typeSome of our favorite road trips
Day tripsEnjoy colorful big-city living in Denver; or go sandboarding in Great Sand Dunes National Park
Weekend tripsPack your skiing gear and hit the slopes in the famous ski resorts of Breckenridge and Vail
Long-weekend tripsAdmire the beautiful architecture in Taos; or explore the red landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
Longer tripsMarvel at the majestic scenery of the Grand Canyon; or try your luck at the tables in Las Vegas

Day trips from Colorado Springs (under 3 hours each way)

You're in for a treat if you are looking for a day trip from Colorado Springs. Whether it's exploring impressive mountain peaks, visiting historic towns or colorful cities, or enjoying outdoor adventures, Colorado Springs offers an array of incredible places to discover just a short drive away.

1. Colorado Springs to Cañon City

1 hour from Colorado Springs (45 miles)

Why you should visit: The shortest road trip on our list, this drive from Colorado Springs to Cañon City is the perfect adventure outdoor enthusiasts simply shouldn't miss. Cañon City is a paradise for outdoor lovers and is known as the best fly-fishing spot in the entire United States.

To make your road trip more scenic, you can make the most of the journey by taking the famous Phantom Canyon Road, part of the Gold Belt Scenic Byway, to Cañon City. This will mean adding some mileage to your journey, but the views will be worth it!

A view of the suspension bridge from a vantage point with mountains and blue sky in the background
Don't miss out the chance to walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge during your visit to Cañon City if you aren't afraid of heights!
Daniel Mullins/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Following the direct route, head out of Colorado Springs on CO-115 and follow this road southwest until Penrose. From here, head directly west on US-50 to reach Cañon City.

Our highlights: Begin your journey with the views of the scenic Arkansas River. Here, the riverbank will be your playground, with numerous trailheads inviting you for a leisurely hike or a more adventurous trek.

Don't forget to pack a picnic – there are plenty of spots along the riverbank where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful views.

Once in Cañon City, take a step back in time as you explore the historic downtown area. Thanks to its classic architecture and wooden boardwalks, this area brims with old-western charm. Stroll through the streets lined with old-fashioned storefronts, boutique shops and cozy cafes.

A visit to Cañon City wouldn't be complete without exploring the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. This famous bridge is one of the world's highest suspension bridges and features stunning views that will stay in your memory for quite some time!

For another unforgettable experience, hop aboard the Royal Gorge Railroad. This scenic train journey takes you through the heart of the Royal Gorge, offering panoramic views that are nothing short of spectacular.

Did you know? The Royal Gorge has been used as a filming location for films such as the iconic western True Grit. See if you can recognize the landscape featured in the action-packed scenes.

Things to note: Please note that if you drive through Cripple Creek to follow Phantom Canyon Road instead of the direct route described above, your trip will take 2 hours and 50 minutes, covering 85 miles instead.

It's important to check the weather forecasts before setting off, especially if your route includes Phantom Canyon Road. This road, known for its scenic beauty, can be treacherous in bad weather, so it's best to avoid it during such conditions for your safety.

This advice applies to all the road trips in the Colorado area.

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is a year-round destination, open 365 days a year. However, it's important to note that it may close unexpectedly due to bad weather.

Planning your visit here is key – tickets are available from 9am, but the rides don't open until 10am. Also, keep in mind that the park closes at 4pm, so it's best to get there early to make the most of your visit.

For a truly unique experience, consider booking tickets for the Royal Gorge Railroad in advance. Also, be on the lookout for special seasonal journeys that might offer a unique twist to the regular train ride.

2. Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak

1 hour 10 minutes from Colorado Springs (30 miles)

Why you should visit: This road trip from Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak will take you along the Pikes Peak Highway, leading to one of the state's majestic "Fourteeners" – mountains that soar over 14,000 feet in elevation.

To reach the summit, you'll drive along the legendary scenic Pikes Peak Highway. As you ascend the mountain, alpine views adorn the road with picnic areas and lookouts available to fully immerse yourself in the views.

The view from the summit of Pikes Peak onto the forested mountains
Pikes Peak can be viewed from several points in Colorado, making the beautiful landscape easily recognizable. Nothing quite beats the view from its summit, though!
Beach Creatives/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Head northwest on US-24 from Colorado Springs. Turn left onto Pikes Peak Highway, which will take you all the way up Pikes Peak.

Our highlights: Pikes Peak Highway offers panoramic views that extend across Colorado Springs and beyond. Each turn unveils one beautiful view after another, presenting an ever-changing landscape that's a feast for the eyes.

If you'd like to learn more about the drive up Pikes Peak, you can find our detailed guide here.

For hiking enthusiasts, several trails dot the route, offering varying degrees of challenge and adventure. Some of our favorite trails can be found around the Crystal Reservoir Center, where scenic paths meander around the alpine reservoir.

You will find the Pikes Peak Summit Complex at the summit. This center offers high-tech exhibits about the mountain's history and geography. And while there, don't forget to treat yourself to a delicious donut as a well-deserved treat. These special donuts are made with the highest fryer in North America!

As you explore, keep an eye out for the diverse flora and fauna. The area is home to high-altitude plant species, including the stunning columbine, Colorado's state flower.

Did you know? The views from the summit of Pikes Peak inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write the song "America the Beautiful".

Things to note: Pikes Peak is accessible year-round, but weather conditions can lead to closures due to bad weather. To avoid disappointment, checking ahead for the latest updates on road conditions and closures is a good idea. Also, take note that the opening hours may vary with the seasons.

From May 26th to September 30th, reservations are required to drive the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, with timed entries to manage traffic. Booking your tickets way in advance is highly recommended.

3. Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek

via the Garden of the Gods

1 hour 20 minutes from Colorado Springs (50 miles)

Why you should visit: Another relatively short drive from Colorado Springs, this journey is packed with adventurous attractions that offer a blend of natural wonders and history, including the beautiful and deservingly popular Garden of the Gods.

Cripple Creek, nestled in the scenic Rocky Mountains of Colorado, is a historic gold mining town that has evolved into a charming destination known for its rich history, captivating gold rush-era architecture, and quaint casinos.

Row of old-fashioned Wild West buildings that now house casinos on a partially cloudy day
Cripple Creek is famous for its mining history and role in the gold rush era, and you can still see this heritage in the quaint casinos of the town.
Rosemarie Mosteller/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Head out of Colorado Springs on Interstate 25 (I-25) and switch to US-24 to reach the Garden of the Gods. After your visit, head northwest on this highway and follow it until you reach Divide.

From here, heading south on CO-67 will take you to Cripple Creek.

Our highlights: In the Garden of the Gods, you can't miss the famous Balanced Rock, a 35-foot geological marvel that appears to teeter on the brink of toppling. This natural sculpture is a photographer's dream and a vivid reminder of nature's artistry.

Next, take a detour to Manitou Springs, a place steeped in history and natural beauty. Discover the ancient Cliff Dwellings, which are believed to be between 800 to 1,000 years old, offering a glimpse into the lives of the indigenous people who once called this area home.

If you are up for something more adventurous, the Manitou Incline awaits. With about 2,744 steps leading to the summit, this challenging hike will reward you with spectacular views and a sense of accomplishment.

Your journey will continue at the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, where you can embark on an extraordinary cave tour. For a more adventurous experience, opt for the Lantern Tour, navigating the cave's mysteries with just a handheld lantern to guide you.

Cripple Creek is a town rich in mining history. Stroll through the Historic District and immerse yourself in the old-world charm of this former mining town. While here, try your luck in one of the casinos, a nod to the town's gold rush heritage.

Did you know? Cripple Creek is featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures, presented by Zak Bagans. The old mining town is said to be plagued with paranormal occurrences.

Things to note: Tours in the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park often need to be booked in advance. We recommend checking the official website before traveling.

Additionally, if you're planning to take on the challenge of the Manitou Incline, remember that it requires reservations. These are available from 6am to 6pm.

The Manitou Incline is a strenuous hike, and it's advisable to attempt it only if you are physically fit and have supportive footwear. However, if you're not up for the challenge, there are easier hikes nearby. Plus, the incline itself has a bailout option two-thirds of the way up, in case you decide it's too much.

4. Colorado Springs to Denver

1 hour 20 minutes from Colorado Springs (70 miles)

Why you should visit: Denver is located a stone's throw from Colorado Springs and is a vibrant metropolis offering a diverse range of experiences and attractions. This urban road trip will take you to the heart of big-city living.

As a cultural hub, the city boasts an array of museums, galleries, and theaters, offering a deep dive into the arts and history. Denver also provides easy access to a variety of outdoor activities, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver skyline at dusk in the distance, the sky in orange tones, green park land in the foreground
You will find the perfect blend of urban cityscapes and green surroundings in beautiful Denver.
Creative Family/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Getting to Denver from Colorado Springs is easy -simply follow I-25 north!

Our highlights: You will find plenty to do during your visit to this colorful city and we recommend starting with the Denver Art Museum, one of the largest art museums in the country. Housing over 70,000 works, you can view new exhibitions and explore art from across the globe.

Next, immerse yourself in the natural beauty and unique setting of the Red Rocks Amphitheater. Famous worldwide, this concert venue is nestled among striking red rock formations, offering an unparalleled music experience. Even if you don't catch a show, a daytime visit to the amphitheater is a must.

Take a stroll down the 16th Street Mall, where a free shuttle can whisk you up and down the vibrant street. Here, you'll discover popular spots like Denver Union Station and the LoDo Historic District, brimming with restaurants, rooftop bars, and brewpubs.

If you have time, you can also visit the Colorado State Capitol, where you can stand exactly one mile above sea level. Don't miss the chance to climb the rotunda for panoramic views of the Rockies.

Did you know? Downtown Denver is rife with statues and murals. However, none more striking than the Big Blue Bear, a 40-foot statue peering through the Colorado Convention Center.

Things to note: One of the first things to consider is the weather, especially when driving on I-25, which can experience snow and ice in colder months.

If you're interested in attending an event at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, make sure to check their listings in advance. Additionally, Denver's music scene is vibrant, from jazz clubs to concert halls, so explore what the city has to offer during your stay.

Before visiting attractions like the Denver Art Museum, check their opening hours. Generally, the Art Museum is open from 10am to 5pm, but this can vary, especially on weekends and holidays.

When heading into the downtown area, consider using public transportation. It can save you both the stress and cost of parking in the city center.

5. Colorado Springs to Westcliffe

1 hour 30 minutes from Colorado Springs (80 miles)

Why you should visit: The drive from Colorado Springs to Westcliffe is a great day trip to escape city life's hustle and bustle. Sandwiched between the majestic Sangre de Cristo and Wet mountain ranges, Westcliffe is perfect for relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors.

Westcliffe is a part of the Dark Skies Initiative, making it an exceptional destination for stargazing enthusiasts. With minimal light pollution, the night skies here are a canvas of celestial wonders, offering an ideal backdrop for observing the stars and constellations in their full glory.

A historical cattle ranch in Westcliffe, with the backdrop of the mountains
Westcliffe is another town with a historic past, and you will feel like you have traveled to a bygone era during your visit to the beautiful Beckwith Ranch.
Jacob Hughes/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: To leave the city, follow CO-115 southwest until Florence and merge onto CO-67. You will switch to CO-96 past Wetmore to reach Westcliffe.

Our highlights: For outdoor adventurers, Westcliffe's mountain scenery is best explored through its extensive network of hiking and biking trails. With over 200 miles of trails weaving through the landscape, you'll have ample opportunity to discover the area's 54 alpine lakes.

One of the best places to visit in Westcliffe is the Smokey Jack Observatory, an ideal spot for astronomy enthusiasts. Thanks to the surrounding mountain ranges, Westcliffe is exceptional for stargazing opportunities.

Consider spending a night under the stars at one of the many campgrounds. Or, for a more comfortable experience, stay in a rustic log cabin, offering the ultimate alpine experience under the glittering stars.

Beckwith Ranch in Westcliffe is a significant historical landmark that offers a glimpse into the region's ranching past. This beautifully preserved 19th-century ranch, with its iconic red barns and elegant Victorian-era ranch house, is a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the Old West.

You can delve deeper into the local history at All Aboard Westcliffe. Here, you will discover the railroad history of the Wet Mountain Valley and visit The Depot, a beautifully restored 1901 train depot.

Did you know? Westcliffe is a small town. In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, it has a total area of just 1.2 square miles.

Things to note: Despite its small-town charm, Westcliffe can get busy, especially during peak seasons. To avoid disappointment, book your campgrounds or lodging well in advance. This is particularly important if you're looking to enjoy the unique experience of staying in a rustic lodge or camping under the stars.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains offer challenging hikes with rocky and steep terrain. Before embarking on a hike, do thorough research to find trails that match your hiking ability and experience level. There are options for hikers at all levels.

6. Colorado Springs to Idaho Springs and Georgetown

2 hours from Colorado Springs (120 miles)

Why you should visit: Take a road trip from Colorado Springs to Idaho Springs and Georgetown for a journey rich in history and surrounded by mountain scenery. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures or learning more about the area's history (or both!), this journey's got you covered.

Georgetown, often referred to as the "Silver Queen of the Rockies," is a charming town that was founded during Colorado's famous silver boom, it stands as one of the state's first four mining towns. You will feel like you have stepped back in time during your visit!

Famous train crossing over a bridge in the mountains on a cloudy day
All aboard the scenic Georgetown Loop Train! One of the highlights of this road trip is this scenic train route in Georgetown and we highly recommend booking your tickets in advance.
Page Light Studios/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25 until you reach Heritage Hills and then switch to CO-470, driving on the outskirts of Denver. Hop onto I-70 and drive west to Idaho Springs and then Georgetown.

Our highlights: Your first stop will be Idaho Springs, where you can visit the Argo Gold Mine, offering an insightful tour into the town's mining past. After learning more about the area's history, treat yourself to a delicious pie at Beau Jo's Pizza.

Next, you can unwind at the Indian Hot Springs. These famous warm mineral waters, known for their therapeutic properties, have been attracting visitors for over 100 years.

In Georgetown, step further into the mining history of the Rockies with the Capital Prize Gold Mine Tours. Here, you can explore over 1,000 feet of the original mine, offering a glimpse into the town's eventful past.

No visit to Georgetown is complete without a ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. This old-fashioned steam train takes you on a scenic journey through the Rocky Mountains in the spirit of the Old West.

Did you know? Georgetown was used as a filming location for the Clint Eastwood 1978 film Every Which Way But Loose.

Things to note: Keep in mind that while the Georgetown Loop Railroad runs every month, daily departures are only available from June to September. Outside of these summer months, the schedule is more limited, so it's important to check the timetable in advance.

For popular attractions like the Capital Prize Gold Mine Tour and the Georgetown Loop Railroad, it's wise to book your tickets in advance. These tours can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

7. Colorado Springs to Eldorado Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon State Parks

2 hours 40 minutes from Colorado Springs (130 miles)

Why you should visit: Did you know that Colorado Springs has two beautiful state parks at its doorstep? Visiting the Eldorado Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon State Parks is a perfect day trip, conveniently located within a short drive from Colorado Springs.

With just around 30 miles separating the visitor centers of Eldorado Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon, you can easily enjoy the distinct offerings of both parks without the need for long detours.

Despite being so close, these parks are home to quite different landscapes. Eldorado Canyon State Park is renowned for its dramatic sandstone cliffs. In contrast, Golden Gate Canyon is surrounded by dense forests, so you will get the best of both worlds on this drive!

River flowing through rocks in a forested canyon, blue sky in the background
Eldorado Canyon State Park is the perfect place to visit during a day trip from Colorado.
Yarik Sychov/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Leave Colorado Springs on I-25 and drive through Denver. US-36 will take you out of the city. Keep heading northwest to reach Eldorado Canyon State Park. Hop on CO-93 after your visit and then CO-72 to reach Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Our highlights: Eldorado Canyon State Park is a popular destination for rock climbers. Bastille Crack is one of the most famous climbs in the United States, drawing climbers from around the globe.

For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, Eldorado Canyon offers a variety of hiking trails. Take a leisurely hike through the park on trails like the Eldorado Canyon Trail, which offers stunning canyon views, or explore the Fowler Trail and Rattlesnake Gulch Trail.

In the Golden Gate Canyon State Park, make sure to visit the Panorama Point Scenic Overlook with breathtaking views of the Continental Divide. This overlook is easily accessible from Gap Road and has convenient parking.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park offers camping facilities, unlike its nearby counterpart. Whether you're looking to spend a night under the stars or simply enjoy a day amidst the forest, this park provides a perfect blend of accessibility and wilderness.

Did you know? Ivy Baldwin performed a tightrope walk 580 feet across the Eldorado Canyon.

Things to note: Before setting out, check the weather, as snow and ice can make road conditions hazardous, and snowfall can lead to road closures. Additionally, hiking trails in these parks may be limited to snowshoeing trails after heavy snowfall, so plan your activities accordingly.

Both Eldorado Canyon and Golden Gate Canyon State Parks require an entrance fee, which is generally around $10 per vehicle (calculated at the time of writing).

Eldorado Canyon State Park, being the more popular of the two, can get particularly busy on weekends and holidays. To manage the crowd, a timed entry system is in place from around May 15th to September 15th.

Camping in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is seasonal, with the exception of Reverends Ridge Campground which is open year-round.

8. Colorado Springs to Salida

via Buena Vista

2 hours 40 minutes from Colorado Springs (130 miles)

Why you should visit: Conveniently located within a relatively short drive from Colorado Springs, Salida is easily accessible in a day, making it an ideal getaway. This route offers a diverse experience, where you'll be captivated by geological wonders and stunning mountain landscapes.

Salida is a hidden gem of Colorado. Known as the "Heart of the Rockies," you can enjoy everything from local breweries to a vibrant art scene to zip lining and whitewater rafting. There's something for everyone in this lovely city!

Aerial view of Salida, Colorado, with its red brick buildings set back from the banks of the Arkansas River
Salida is a lively town by the beautiful Arkansas River with a busy downtown dotted with restaurants, breweries, and boutique shops.
Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Head out of the city on US-24 heading west and visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. After your visit, keep following the highway to Buena Vista.

From here, head south to make a stop at Mount Princeton Hot Springs and then US-285 and CO-291 will take you to Salida.

Our highlights: The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a must-see for history and nature enthusiasts alike. Here, you can take a self-guided hike to explore one of the world's most abundant fossil beds.

Next, visit the laid-back mountain town of Buena Vista, where you can stroll its quaint streets. For the more adventurous, the Buena Vista Whitewater Park offers kayaking and rafting along the Arkansas River.

After your outdoor adventures, you can relax and rejuvenate at the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Open year-round, these natural hot springs offer a variety of experiences, from soaking in the Historic Bath House and Infinity Pool to indulging in spa treatments.

Salida is home to the largest historic district in Colorado, where art galleries, restaurants, breweries, and boutique shops await. After a day filled with outdoor adventures, this neighborhood is our favorite place to relax and have a delicious meal.

Did you know? Salida was used as a filming location for Fast & Furious 7. Local Italian restaurant Ferraro's and Benson's Tavern and Beer Garden became the go-to for cast and crew.

Things to note: Mt. Princeton Hot Springs is open year-round from 9am to 9pm, offering not just the hot springs experience but also lodging. They have a variety of room options available, many with stunning mountain views.

Throughout the year, Salida hosts several events that are worth checking out such as Bluegrass on the Arkansas or the Salida Jazz Festival at Riverside Park.

9. Colorado Springs to Rocky Mountain National Park

via Denver and Boulder

2 hours 40 minutes from Colorado Springs (140 miles)

Why you should visit: On this scenic road trip to one of the most popular national parks in the nation, you will get to visit two of Colorado's best loved cities along the way, Denver and Boulder, both known for their unique cultural aspects and vibrant outdoor sports scenes.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the US. It is worth visiting any time of the year for its panoramic views and scenic drives; the national park is home to over sixty peaks higher than 12,000 feet, around 150 lakes, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

Bear Lake at the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most scenic destinations on our list of road trips from Colorado Springs.
Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25 until you reach Denver and take US-36 to Boulder. Switch to CO-7 past Lyons to reach Rocky Mountain National Park.

Our highlights: If you have time, we recommend putting aside some time to visit Denver on the way. In this buzzing city, you can start your road trip on a cultural note and go museum-hopping at Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and Denver Art Museum.

In Boulder, explore the outdoors and visit Chautauqua Park, a historic park where you will find the start of many hiking trails, go for a picnic, go rock climbing, or attend one of the many cultural events that take place here throughout the year.

Trail Ridge Road is a high-altitude paved road that passes through Rocky Mountain National Park. It is a 48-mile long stretch of highway, and offers visitors thrilling views of the diverse, rugged, beautiful landscapes of this mountainous national park.

Longs Peak, the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, can be seen from almost anywhere in the park. To reach the flat top of the giant mountain, you will need to climb one of the possible routes, and the Keyhole Route is the most popular.

To reach the peak, training and some climbing experience is required. Of course, the mountain and its many vertical faces can also be admired from several places down below, if you don't fancy a climb.

The Bear Lake Road corridor is one of the most visited parts of the national park. It is a gateway to more scenic parts of the park and several hiking trails. You can also do a short loop walk around the subalpine Bear Lake itself, through fir and pine forests and with views of the surrounding mountains.

Did you know? The symbol of Rocky Mountain National Park is bighorn sheep. Other wildlife present in the park include elk, moose, and many species of birds and fish. There are also threatened and endangered species living in the park, such as the lynx and the boreal toad.

Things to note: You can expect wintery driving conditions in Rocky Mountain National Park from mid-October to early June. Please also note that this national park uses a "Timed Entry Permit System" and you will need to book your visit beforehand.

During the winter months, any roads of the park may be temporarily closed due to adverse weather, though the park, on the whole, remains open throughout the year, and many places are accessible on foot or by snow shoes even when roads are closed.

With high altitude and sharp turns, some drivers might find driving on Trail Ridge Road challenging. You can find our detailed guide here, which will help you plan your drive in the safest way. Note that this road closes for the winter season, generally from the end of October to late May.

10. Colorado Springs to Great Sand Dunes National Park

via Pueblo

2 hours 40 minutes (170 miles)

Why you should visit: Great Sand Dunes National Park is known not only for its photogenic, tall sand dunes but also for wonderful opportunities for sandboarding and sand sledding, as well as picnicking, hiking, camping, horseback riding, stargazing, and mountain climbing.

This national park is visited by half a million people every year and is home to some of the largest sand dunes in North America, with the backdrop of tall peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. The tallest sand dune in the park is over 700 feet tall, and the dunes overall cover an area of about 30 square miles!

Great Sand Dunes National Park Colorado at Sunset
Forget beaches, the real fun in the sand awaits you in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where you can enjoy sand sledding and sandboarding - if you dare!
Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25, heading south and you will drive through Pueblo. Keep heading south until Walsenburg, and hop onto US-160 in the western direction. Switch to CO-150 past Blanca to reach Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Our highlights: On this scenic road trip from Colorado Springs, you can stop off at Pueblo on the way. The historic Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo is a charming waterfront with boat rides, food, and festivals taking place along the river.

Once you arrive at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, it is definitely worth it to make the epic trek to the summit of the tallest sand dune in the park called Star Dune.

If you time your visit right, you can even enjoy water sports in this national park. Medano Creek is a seasonal creek, flowing through the park most forcefully after the spring melt, that also creates a beach at the base of the dunes.

Looking to spend more time outdoors? Sangre de Cristo Wilderness offers stunning hiking opportunities close to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The area offers breathtaking views of mountains, alpine lakes, lush meadows, and fir forests.

Did you know? Even amidst the sand dunes, life prevails. Great Sand Dunes National Park is actually home to many species of wildlife, including some endemic species that are found only in this location on Earth, such as the beautiful Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle and the acrobatic Circus Beetle that stands on its head with its hindlegs up when threatened.

Things to note: Medano Creek at Great Sand Dunes National Park is a seasonal creek, thus you'll not find it flowing during the drier times of the year. It is best enjoyed during or after the spring melts.

It is always a good idea to bring plenty of water when exploring the dunes or other features of the national park. Especially during the summer months, when the creeks dry up and sun is blazing, the area is dry and the sand gets fairly hot as well.

Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center offers exhibits, a book store, snacks and souvenirs. Keep in mind that this visitor center and campground are closed during the winter months. Otherwise, the park remains open throughout the year.

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Weekend trips from Colorado Springs (3-5 hours each way)

If you are looking for a more extended getaway, Colorado Springs is the perfect starting point for weekend trips to some of the most picturesque locations in the region. These destinations are ideal for an overnight stay or a full weekend of exploration.

11. Colorado Springs to Breckenridge and Vail

3 hours from Colorado Springs (140 miles)

Why you should visit: This road trip is a winter sports lover's dream. This drive will take you straight into the southern Rocky Mountains to the world-class skiing locations Breckenridge and Vail.

Both Breckenridge and Vail are known as fabulous skiing and snowboarding locations. Breckenridge also has a rich history, a colorful arts and cultural scene, and beautiful hiking opportunities. Vail is home to the largest ski resort in the US, and this alpine town is also known as a popular golfing destination.

People skiing down the alpine slope in Colorado with snowy mountains in the distance
Vail and Breckenridge are home to some of the most prestigious ski resorts in the country, which make both amazing winter destinations.
Steve Boice/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Get onto US-24 to leave Colorado Springs and head northwest. Past Hartsel, switch to CO-9 to reach Breckenridge. After your visit, you will follow I-70 to your destination in Vail.

Our highlights: Pike-San Isabel National Forest on the way from Colorado Springs to Breckenridge offers amazing hikes and stunning views of 19 of the 53 mountain peaks in Colorado that tower over 14,000 feet.

Wildlife you can spot in the park include black bears, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep. While these fascinating creatures might look friendly from afar, it is always a good idea to keep a healthy and safe distance during your visit.

You are in luck if you are looking to hit the slopes. Breckenridge Ski Resort has acres of skiable terrain spread over five mountain peaks. Nearby, Breckenridge Nordic Center is a top destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Not to worry if you aren't a fan of winter sports; Breckenridge has something for everyone. For a more tranquil time outdoors, you can visit High Line Railroad Park in Breckenridge. At this outdoor historic park, you can learn about the town's railroad history.

Similar to Breckenridge, Vail Ski Resort has over 5,000 acres of skiable terrain. This premier mountain resort also has a Swiss-style village with shops and restaurants.

Vail Gondola offers amazing views of the area even in the summertime when you can get off on the top for lunch and a small hike before riding back down.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is another place worth visiting while in Vail. They aim to protect the alpine environment through their living plant collection, as well as educational and conservation initiatives.

Did you know? Although Breckenridge and Vail are best known for winter activities, they are also superb summer vacation destinations. Both destinations offer beautiful opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, climbing, biking, fishing, and many other outdoor activities.

You can also enjoy live music and art during a summery visit to these small mountain towns with a friendly community spirit.

Things to note: Driving to Breckenridge and Vail in the winter months, you're almost always bound to experience some snowy, icy, or windy conditions on the roads, so it is a good idea to be prepared and check for road conditions before setting off.

Especially if you visit the surrounding countryside near Breckenridge or Vail, some mountain passes may be momentarily blocked due to snow storms in winter. Always keep an eye on weather forecasts when planning trips in the area.

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Long weekend trips from Colorado Springs (5-8 hours each way)

If you have a bit more time to spare, Colorado Springs is an excellent starting point for long weekend trips. From world-famous national parks to historic pueblos and colorful New Mexico cities, you have plenty of options for longer road trips in this region.

12. Colorado Springs to Taos and Santa Fe

5 hours from Colorado Springs (290 miles)

Why you should visit: A road trip from Colorado Springs to Taos and Santa Fe is one filled with fascinating history and culture. You will have plenty of opportunities to get acquainted with the history and architecture of the Native American cultures.

Taos, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is known for Taos Pueblo, wonderful museums, and spectacular skiing. Santa Fe is especially known as an artistic community, and the city is home to hundreds of artists and art galleries.

Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, USA with snow-capped mountains in the distance and the mud dwellings in the foreground.
Taos Pueblo is the sole Native American community recognized as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark, and there is plenty to learn about the history of this important area.
Dan Kaplan/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25 south until you reach Walsenburg and switch to US-160 as you keep heading south out of the state. Entering New Mexico, follow NM-522 to reach Taos.

Keep heading south on NM-68 after your visit and you will switch to US-285 and then US-84 to arrive in Santa Fe.

Our highlights: On the way, you can visit the artsy city of Pueblo and take a stroll along the Pueblo Riverwalk along the Arkansas River to admire this waterfront with restaurants, shops, and lively gathering spots.

Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. You might be surprised to learn that the pueblos in this area are among the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States; in Taos Pueblo, people have lived for about one thousand years.

To learn more, head to the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House , which houses a fascinating collection of historical artworks located in a traditional, hand-crafted Adobe building.

Once you learn more about the area's rich history, head to Santa Fe and take a stroll down Canyon Road to view over 80 art galleries with world-class artists from the US and around the world.

Santa Fe Plaza is famous for its historic plaza in downtown Santa Fe. Set out in the style of the traditional Spanish-American colonial cities, the plaza and its surroundings are a popular gathering place and a site of classic architecture.

Did you know? Taos and Santa Fe are both places of ancient history and stories - no wonder, being located in the "Land of Enchantment", New Mexico.

Santa Fe is actually the oldest government seat in the United States, operating as a state capital since the early 17th century. Both locations were first inhabited at least as early as 1,000 years ago.

Taos also has a quirky mystery that some people find fascinating, called the "Taos Hum": this is supposedly a background noise or a hum that some people are able to hear in its vicinity.

Things to note: Taos and Santa Fe, being located in high altitudes, experience snowfall and icy conditions during the winter months. Prepare for a winter road trip with proper winter tires.

13. Colorado Springs to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

via Vail and Moab

6 hours 45 minutes from Colorado Springs (445 miles)

Why you should visit: A drive to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks is one of the most scenic road trips you could do out of Colorado Springs. These stunning national parks are both known for breathtaking, colorful landscapes of canyons, stone arches and spires, mesas and buttes

You'll be crossing the Continental Divide to reach Utah, passing by stunning mountain scenery and national forests, and end up in a land of most mesmerizing rock formations and canyons close to the vibrant town of Moab. You could do this as a long weekend trip, or stretch the trip out over several days.

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, USA with the delicate arch in the foreground and the mountains in the distance taken on a sunny day.
Delicate Arch is one of the most famous rock formations in Arches National Park, and a popular photo spot.
Petr Podrouzek/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Leave Colorado Springs on I-25, heading north through Denver and then switch to I-70 to cross into Utah. Hop onto US-191 past Thompson Springs to reach Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Our highlights: On the way to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, you can stop off at Vail to enjoy amazing skiing or snowboarding opportunities, take a gondola ride, set off on a hike, or enjoy the restaurants in this world-class ski resort town.

White River National Forest is a large, scenic natural area containing stunning mountain landscapes, wonderful recreation opportunities, and diverse wildlife. There are some amazing landmarks to view in the national forest, including Hanging Lake and Maroon Bells.

Arches National Park is famous for containing the densest concentration of stone arches in the world; there are over 2000 of them altogether, along with other geological formations.

Delicate Arch is perhaps the most well-known natural stone arch in Arches National Park. A moderate 3-mile hike will take you to view this iconic landmark.

Or, take a hike to visit the Fiery Furnace, a collection of narrow sandstone canyons that often shine in strong red and orange colors in the sunlight.

The dramatic landscapes carved by the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park are something to behold. Grand View Point at the mesa called Island in the Sky provides perhaps the best, and at least most popular, vistas over the river, canyons, and rock formations in Canyonlands.

Take a short hike up to Mesa Arch, perhaps the most famous landmark in Canyonlands National Park. You'll have beautiful views of the surrounding area through the gigantic "window" of this natural stone arch.

If you are curious about whether you can visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in one day, you can check our detailed guide out to help you decide and plan.

Did you know? Both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks also contain some historic rock art. Pictographs and petroglyphs painted on rock walls tell stories of the ancient inhabitants of this land.

Things to note: If you drive through the mountains during the winter months, be prepared with proper winter tires; there are many mountain passes along this stretch where you may experience snowy or icy conditions during and after snow storms.

White River National Forest is open year-round but is subject to temporary road closures during extreme weather. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are open throughout the year.

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Longer trips from Colorado Springs (Over 8 hours each way)

A longer journey from Colorado Springs opens up a world of possibilities for epic road trips. From a visit to iconic Sin City to exploring the majestic Grand Canyon or the otherworldly landscape of Monument Valley, you will find plenty of great ideas on our list!

14. Colorado Springs to Monument Valley

via Mesa Verde National Park

8 hours 30 minutes from Colorado Springs (480 miles)

Why you should visit: A road trip from Colorado Springs to Monument Valley will take you to the unique landscape of sandstone formations, which is globally famous due to being used as a backdrop to many unforgettable movies and TV shows.

Monument Valley is home to iconic sandstone buttes and mesas, some of which soar 400 to 1000 feet above the valley floor. You can explore the area by hiking or by taking a scenic drive through the valley.

Sunset at the sisters in Monument Valley, USA
There is nothing quite like seeing the sunsetting between the Sisters rock formations in Monument Valley.

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25 south to Walsenburg and switch to US-160 to head west. This road will take you to Mesa Verde National Park.

Switch to UT-162 as you cross the border into Utah and then follow US-191 and US-163 to reach Monument Valley.

Our highlights: We highly recommend visiting the Rio Grande National Forest along the route. This remote wilderness area comprises mountains, high deserts, alpine meadows, and the headwaters of one of North America's greatest rivers.

Mesa Verde National Park offers a chance to see and experience the life and history of the Ancestral Puebloan people. It contains ancient cliff dwellings, the most famous of which is Cliff Palace. You can also admire panoramic canyon views in the park.

Perhaps the best-known landmark in Monument Valley is the Mittens; the West and East Mitten are two buttes that, when viewed from the south, resemble two huge mittens with thumbs facing inward.

Tribal Park Loop is a 17-mile-long scenic drive through the valley that allows you to take in the landscape and the natural landmarks.

Did you know? Monument Valley has served as a filming location, especially for many old westerns, but it also features in movies such as Forrest Gump, Back to the Future 3, and Lone Ranger.

Things to note: Monument Valley is open all year round. Though a wonderful destination every season, the weather conditions get more challenging in winter, and you can experience occasional ice and light snow.

Tribal Park Loop in Monument Valley is a dirt road accessible by most vehicles in good weather, but it may not be advisable to do this drive right after heavy rains.

Mesa Verde National Park is also open year-round, although certain sections of the park are closed during the winter months.

15. Colorado Springs to Grand Canyon National Park

via Monument Valley

11 hours 30 minutes from Colorado Springs (655 miles)

Why you should visit: A road trip from Colorado Springs to the Grand Canyon not only takes you to one of the most known and celebrated geological wonders of the world, but it also allows you to visit fascinating places and landscapes of southern Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

Grand Canyon is world-famous for its breathtaking, rugged views. Some of the best ways of viewing the canyon include driving to visit the many viewpoints along its length, hiking in the canyon itself, rafting along the river, or taking a helicopter flight to view the expansive geological formations.

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, USA taken on a sunny day with the waterfall surrounded by red rock cliffs, trees and taken on a sunny day.
Havasu Falls in Grand Canyon National Park is an awe-inspiring sight to behold, with the turquoise water flowing through rugged red rocks.
Brayden Kuakpetoon/Shutterstock.com

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Similar to the road trip route above, you will follow I-25 south to Walsenburg and hop onto US-160. You will then merge onto UT-162 as you cross the border into Utah and then follow US-191 and US-163 to reach Monument Valley.

From here, US-160 and then US-163 will take you to the South Rim of Grand Canyon.

Our highlights: On the way to the Grand Canyon, make a stop at Pagosa Springs. The town is known for a system of hot sulphur springs found here. You can enjoy the hot springs by visiting some of the many resorts in the area, such as the Springs Resort and Spa.

Monument Valley, located along the route, is an iconic destination that is famed for its majestic natural landmarks, such as the towering sandstone buttes that rise dramatically from the valley floor. The area is steeped in the rich history and culture of the Native Americans, particularly the Navajo Nation.

Once in the Grand Canyon, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is renowned for offering some of the most iconic and panoramic views of the canyon's vast and rugged landscape. This part of the canyon is accessible year-round and provides visitors with various viewpoints and trails.

You can find more information on some of the best viewpoints and photo spots in the Grand Canyon in our detailed guide that you can find here.

While here, we also highly recommend a visit to the Yavapai Geology Museum. The museum offers insightful information about the topography and geological history of the Grand Canyon. Through interactive exhibits, you can learn about the forces that shaped this immense chasm over millions of years,

Did you know? Grand Canyon is massive! The national park is 277 miles long and on average, 4,000 feet deep. It is 18 miles wide at its widest point. Talking about being grand!

Things to note: It is advisable to book accommodation in or near Grand Canyon National Park several months before visiting, to secure lodging.

Grand Canyon National Park is open all year round. Do note, however, that the North Rim entrance of the national park is closed during the winter months.

READ MORE - Road Trip from Colorado Springs to Grand Canyon

16. Colorado Springs to Las Vegas

via Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

13 hours 40 minutes from Colorado Springs (920 miles)

Why you should visit: This longer, epic road trip crossing several states will take you through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, via several scenic landscapes of Utah, and finally into Las Vegas, also known as "The World's Entertainment Capital".

On this drive from Colorado Springs to Las Vegas, you will get to visit many iconic sights, such as the beautiful scenery and landscapes of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, as well as Dixie National Forest, as well as the famous Zion National Park.

Las Vegas, USA taken as a panoramic view of Las Vegas Strip as seen at sunny day, with views of hotels and casinos and a beautiful water feature in the centre.
For something a little different, you can put aside more time to set off on a road trip from Colorado Springs to Las Vegas, the aptly named "Entertainment Capital of the World.

How to get here from Colorado Springs: Follow I-25 north and then switch to I-70 past the outskirts of Denver. Heading west on this interstate, you will get to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as Moab, past Thompson Springs.

After your visit, keep heading southwest on I-70 and switch to I-15 past Suphurdale. You can soon make detours to Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park past Cedar City. Afterwards, keep heading southwest to reach Las Vegas.

Our highlights: Arches National Park, a key highlight along your route, is an iconic national park celebrated for its over 2,000 natural stone arches. The park's unique geological features include the famous Delicate Arch.

Canyonlands National Park, another gem on the way, is a vast expanse of rugged beauty, encompassing spectacular rock spires, arches, and other rock formations. The park is also home to ancient rock art, offering a glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabited this land long ago.

Dixie National Forest, Utah's largest national forest, encompasses a mix of canyons, fascinating rock formations, mountains, and lakes. The forest's scenic beauty and vast array of recreational activities make it an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, camp or fish.

Zion National Park is known for its stunning canyon landscapes and towering sandstone cliffs. The park is a paradise for hikers, with trails like the iconic Angels Landing and the Narrows, which take you through narrow canyons and along the Virgin River.

In Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience is a destination not to be missed. This pedestrian mall, located in downtown Las Vegas, is a hub of gaming and entertainment. The area is known for its vibrant atmosphere, with live music, street performers, and an LED canopy that lights up the night sky.

The Neon Museum Las Vegas offers a unique and colorful journey through the city's history. This outdoor museum is dedicated to preserving Las Vegas's most iconic art form - the neon sign.

The Fountains of Bellagio is an enchanting and free attraction located on the famous Las Vegas Strip. This musical fountain show is a spectacle of artistry, with thousands of water nozzles and lights choreographed to music.

Did you know? Las Vegas was originally named by a Spanish pioneer in 1821. Back then, the area was covered in lush meadows fed by abundant local springs. Thus, the name Las Vegas, which means "the meadows".

Groundwater pumping eventually caused the springs to dry up, leading to the area becoming the desert-like environment it now is. The city now gets most of its water from Lake Mead.

Things to note: If you are planning to do this road trip in winter, you'll need to be prepared with winter tires, for you'll be driving through high mountain passes and other landscapes where snowfall and ice are regular occurrences during the winter months.

The national parks and forests along the route are generally open all year round, although temporary closures of smaller roads may occur due to extreme weather events. Keep an eye on the weather forecast if you plan to visit national parks and nature areas along the route.

READ MORE - Road Trip from Colorado Springs to Las Vegas

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