Uncover some of the hidden gems on this summer road trip. Rail enthusiasts are sure to enjoy riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and soaking in some of the state’s natural hot springs will be a highlight for many.

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Why We Love It

Explore some of Colorado’s lesser known National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges and Scenic Byways

Ride the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Soak in some of Colorado’s famous natural hot springs

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Day by day Itinerary

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

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Day 1

Grand Junction – Colorado National Monument – Grand Junction

Hit the ground running as you arrive in Grand Junction today.  Explore the Colorado National Monument, a nature reserve with bizarre rock formations and canyons, located a few miles west of Grand Junction.

Enjoy a great meal at one of the many restaurants in the historic downtown or venture out to one of the area’s wineries.

Day 2

Grand Junction – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Crested Butte

Travel to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where the Gunnison River drops through the entire canyon, making it one of the steepest mountain descents in North America.  The main attraction of the park is the scenic drive, as well as the south rim. 

The evening finds you in Crested Butte, an outdoor adventure enthusiasts paradise, where popular summer activities include hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fishing. The Colorado General Assembly has designated Crested Butte the wildflower capital of Colorado.

Day 3

Crested Butte – Great Sand Dunes National Park - Alamosa

Today a different scenery awaits - Great Sand Dunes National Park, where the tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Against the backdrop of rugged 14,000' peaks in the Sangre de Cristo mountains—the 30 square mile sand dune field, with no designated trails—invites you on an adventure. The natural and diverse system of the park ranges from great sand dunes to forests, from cottonwood groves to majestic mountain peaks and tundra. The highest elevation in the park is 13,604' above sea level.

The Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge is also worth a visit while in the area. Of the more than 500 species of birds in Colorado, over 300 of them can be found in the valley. But it’s the hopping, dancing and rattling calls of the sandhill cranes numbering up to 20,000 that make the San Luis Valley especially impressive for bird enthusiasts.

Day 4

Alamosa – Pagosa Springs – Chimney Rock National Monument - Durango

Follow the Tracks Across Borders Scenic Byway from Alamosa to Durango today.

First stop: A soak in one of the three Pagosa Springs hot springs. At over 1002 feet deep, the Mother Spring aquifer has been Guinness World Record Certified as, "The World's Deepest." The San Juan River, with its abundant trout, runs through town.

The Byway passes through the Southern Ute Indian Tribe reservation land, whose headquarters and Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum are located in Ignacio, Colorado.  Southwest of Pagosa Springs, Chimney Rock National Monument features the ruins of ancient Ancestral Puebloan dwellings.

Continue to Durango, an old mining town which flourished during the gold and silver boom of the 19th century. (B)

Day 5

Durango – Silverton - Durango

A visit to Durango would not be complete without a ride aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Take a trip through the breathtaking canyons of the San Juan National Forest, which provides you with a taste of authentic railroading history presented as it was in 1882.  Enjoy a leisurely trip to yesteryear riding 3 1/2 hours each way on this train plus spend 2 hours in the historic mining town of Silverton to enjoy the sights, shopping, food, and libations that Silverton offers. (B)

Day 6

Durango – Mesa Verde National Park - Durango

Just a short drive brings you to Mesa Verde National Park, known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde National Park offers a unique chance to walk in the actual footsteps of the vanished Anasazi civilization. Little has changed since 600 AD, when Ancestral Puebloans thrived in this mysterious collection of cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde has been designated a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations.

Mesa Top Loop Road winds past archaeological sites and overlooks, including Sun Point Overlook with panoramic canyon views. Petroglyph Point Trail has several rock carvings.