Famous for their breathtaking scenery and natural wonder, Colorado’s four national parks are some of the most popular in the country. Within their borders, visitors can listen to an elk’s bugle, glance inside the homes of ancient Pueblo people, hike along the tallest dunes in North America, and view some of the steepest cliffs and craggiest spires the country has to offer.
With entrance fees to Colorado’s national parks ranging as high as $30 per vehicle, you might be thrilled to know that on November 11th, Veterans Day, entrance to all of them will be FREE!
Located in the San Luis Valley, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is a must for any Colorado bucket list. It’s amazing to see a stretch of large dunes in the middle of a high mountain valley and even more incredible to have the freedom to explore them. Though Medano Creek will most likely be dry in November, cooler temperatures make for more comfortable hiking and the ability to cover more ground.
Just west of Gunnison is Black Canyon National Park where steep canyons are carved out of solid granite and walls are as steep as 2,700 feet. There are seven hiking trails along the north and south rim, allowing for many great vantage points. For the more daring hiker, there are also trails that lead to the canyon’s floor where the Gunnison River weaves like a snake.
At Mesa Verde, in southwestern Colorado, the past comes alive. Over 4,700 archaeological sites dot the park, including 600 cliff dwellings, which are considered the best preserved archaeological sites in North America. Multiple trails ranging in length allow visitors to explore these sites at their own leisure.
Lastly, Colorado’s most famous national park, Rocky Mountain, has a name that says it all. With iconic Colorado scenery, it’s popularity is well deserved. Hundreds of miles of trails provide endless hiking opportunities. Yet, for a more leisurely route to the top of a mountain, Trail Ridge Road takes drivers above tree line for sweeping views of the Rockies.
For more information, visit the National Park Service at www.nps.gov.