Bent’s Old Fort had an important secondary role as the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail, and it was a godsend for travelers and soldiers who could stop for repairs, replenish their supplies, and enjoy good food, water, and company. Disaster and disease closed the fort in 1849; reconstruction began in 1876, and guided tours of the fort are a must for families and history buffs.
If playing in a giant sandbox appeals to you, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa is a must-visit. This giant dune field of 30sqmi (78sqkm) features at least one dune that’s more than 750ft (229m) high. Sledding down the dunes is a popular pastime, as is hiking and camping. There are also horseback riding trails and the scenic four-wheel drive on Medano Pass.
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Opera Colorado is Denver's premiere world-class opera company, presenting fine opera performances each season since 1981 at the city's Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The company mounts two full-scale opera performances each season in November and May, focusing on classics such as Verdi's La Traviata and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. An annual winter chamber performance is also presented, highlighting a new or contemporary opera work in a more intimate theater setting. Other performances throughout the year include recitals, panel discussions, and artist meet-and-greet events. Educational programming at the company reaches more than 45,000 participants each year, including in-school outreach programming. Opera guests can enjoy on-site dining at Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House, with bar drinks and snacks offered within the theater's lobby spaces before shows and during intermissions.
The museum’s holdings of African art include rare sculptures and focus on the works of the Yoruba people of West Africa. The museum is family-friendly, providing backpacks of activities for visiting children to help them explore the world of art, and it offers free admission every day for youth under the age of 18. The museum has a popular restaurant, Palette, and a gift shop full of interesting souvenirs.
Whether you visit Colorado in the summer or winter, take some time to get to know Vail. Enjoy a resort vacation in the winter for snowboarding or skiing, and treat yourself to some hot chocolate while looking at the mountain views. Or, explore the hiking trails around town or play a leisurely round of golf. If you plan ahead, you can drop in during one of their charming summer festivals.