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Breckenridge is both a mountain town and a ski resort and is packed with plenty of Colorado history. It’s the oldest and largest town in Summit County, with about 250 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, making its Main Street an absolute dream to wander. There are tons of arts events and festivals all year, plus galleries, studios and shops worth checking out. In summer, you can enjoy the wildflowers in bloom in the surrounding areas, while in winter, Breckenridge Ski Resort provides some 2,908 acres (1,177ha) of the best skiing in the state.
Although it’s tucked away in Colorado’s southwest corner, Telluride parties so much its known as the festival capital of the West. One of its most well known is the Telluride Film Festival, which attracts celebrities and visitors from around the world. It also claims one of the country longest running film fests, the Mountainfilm Festival, held in late May. Carbondale showcases the 5Point Film Festival in late April, catering to adventure.
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.
The Rocky Mountains are the birthplace of the Arkansas River, the most popular river in the United States. It is also perfect for white water rafting, whether you want to go for a half day, or turn it into a multi-day trip extravaganza. There are many different rafting routes depending on your level of expertise, from family-friendly to expert Class IV.
Garden of the Gods is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A designated National Natural Landmark, the park draws in visitors from all over the country and many international travelers. These gorgeous sandstone formations were discovered by surveyors out from Denver; upon seeing the rocks merged with the Great Plains’ grasslands that meet the woodlands of the Southwest and mountain forests of Pike Peak, they declared it looked like a garden fit for the gods.
Mesa Verde has been inhabited since 7500 BC by nomadic tribes, and the experts estimate that the first pueblos were built in 650 AD. The impressive cliff dwellings that still bring visitors to the park were built in 1200 AD. See the Cliff Palace and spend some time learning about these native americans at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Don’t forget to explore the Mesa Top Loop Road for some excellent viewpoints and canyon overlooks.