Are you looking to try something new in Colorado in 2022? We've created a bucket list, if you will, of some commonly know things that every Colorado resident should see, as well as some "hidden" or off-the-beaten-path gems that may take you to something you didn't realize even existed. So, if you are looking for some unique things to do in Colorado this year, check out our top 22 things to do in colorado in 2022.
And if you are looking for a checklist to keep track as you check items off the Colorado to-do list, you can download it here.
1. Take the Ski Train to Winter Park - Even if you don't ski, the Winter Park Express is one of the most unique experiences in Colorado. Sip your morning coffee as you pass through beautiful mountain terrain. You'll pass through 31 tunnels as you make your way through the Rocky Mountains with the longest being the Moffat Tunnel at 6.2 miles long. Departures are each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—beginning the weekend of Friday, January 14 and ending Sunday, April 3. More Info
Thaddeus Roan - Flickr
2. Casa Bonita - This Denver icon is set to re-open in the 2nd half of 2022 with WAY better food and the influence of Matt Stone & Trey Parker at the helm. They are leaving all of the nostalgia of cliff diving, Black Barts Cave, Mariachis, and costumed gorillas but giving it a bit of a reboot. We can't wait to go back! More Info
Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images
3. Ride the Defiance at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park - Defiance was the original name of Glenwood Springs when back in 1879, prospectors and miners defied the norms and laws of civilization. This one-of-a-kind coaster has a 102.3-degree freefall, the steepest in the Western US, 98-foot twisted top hat switch, 111-foot banana roll, 41 foot Zero-G heartline roll, and it sits 7,160 feet above sea level making it the highest looping roller coaster in the US. More Info
Courtesy of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
4. Try a Laser Rifle Biathalon - Experience a traditional winter race that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. At Devil’s Thumb Ranch, guests can experience this sport all year round. With ultra-lightweight rifles specifically made for biathlons, the staff will show you the ropes including gun safety and operation. Try your hand at shooting the laser rifle at a target and add in a ski race (or running relay during the warmer months) for the full biathlon experience.
Photo courtesy of Devils Thumb Ranch
5. Strawberry Park Hot Springs - Strawberry Park Hot Springs is nestled in a high mountain valley just seven miles north of downtown Steamboat. They offer unique stone-lined soaking pools, rustic cabins, and tent sites, massage, and Watsu therapy. Leave the hustle and bustle behind, and come relax in the hot springs. Minutes away, yet worlds apart. Remember, adults-only after dark and cash only!
Photo Courtesy of the Steamboat Chamber of Commerce
6. Meow Wolf - If you haven't been, GO! Meow Wolf’s third permanent exhibition is now open in Denver, CO. Convergence Station is unforgettable, transformational, and not to be missed. Discover immersive psychedelic, mind-bending art, and an underlying rich narrative as you take a journey of discovery into a surreal, science-fictional epic. 360 Tip: Go right when they open at 10:00 and you'll have the place to yourself for about 30-40 minutes until it starts to get crowded. Get Tickets
Photo Courtesy of Meow Wolf
7. Sandboard at The Great Sand Dunes - There’s plenty to do at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, but sandboarding is without a doubt the most novel activity on offer. Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the park’s dunes (which encompass 19,000 acres) likely started forming nearly half a million years ago. Their shapes and patterns fluctuate constantly, depending on the valley’s prevailing wind pattern du jour, but the dunes remain the tallest in North America. Head to Great Sand Dunes between April and October for a chance to sandboard the Star Dune, which, at 750 feet from the valley floor, is the tallest formation around.
Photo Courtesy of u/Kwahrolyat on Reddit
8. Visit Bishop Castle - Bishop Castle in Rye is the largest self-built castle in the United States. Built by one man, this castle is a marvel of ingenuity and determination. It reaches over 16 stories high, with a grand ballroom, wrought iron walkways, and even a steel fire-breathing dragon. Opening times vary across the seasons as they follow daylight hours, and the castle is open seven days a week. Entrance is free to the public, although they welcome donations.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA
9. Drive Trail Ridge Road - Soaring to an elevation of 12,183 feet, Trail Ridge Road seems to leave the earth behind. It slices through the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, entering a world of rare alpine beauty. Distant peaks loom in all directions, while fragrant wildflowers blanket the tundra in mid-summer. Sharp-eyed observers can usually spy elk, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife traversing the meadows and crags. Higher than any paved through-road in the country, this cliff-hugging highway is as impressive for its engineering as for its stunning vistas. You can't find a road like this one anywhere outside of Colorado.
Photo Courtesy of outthere Colorado
10. Dine at The Fort in Morrison - Situated in the Red Rocks country 17 miles southwest of Denver on Hwy 285, The Fort is a true replica of Bent's Fort, (1833-1849), the first American fur trade post in Colorado. The Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa, and Pawnee traded and intermarried at Bent's Old Fort, creating an economic and peaceful exchange of cultures in an otherwise violent West. The Fort building is on the National Registry of Historic Places and celebrates the many cultures that traded at Bent's Old Fort. Our menu features "New Foods of the Old West" including the best cuts of buffalo, elk, and quail, grilled to perfection. There are vegetarian options inspired by American Indian recipes including Corn Beans and Squash, known as the Three Sacred Sisters. The wine list is awarded the Wine Spectator each year, and the nine dining rooms, with intimate seating, have a 350 seat capacity, with real adobe "beehive "fireplaces that burn wood in the winter and fall months. Romantic. Amazing views of the Valley and Mountains! Make Reservations
photo courtesy of colorado.com
11. The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg - A 10,500-acre network of non-profit sanctuaries with more than 650 rescued Lions, Tigers Bears, Wolves, and other large carnivores rescued from illegal or abusive situations and then rehabilitated so they can then be released into large acreage natural habitats where they live, roam, and play with others of their kind for the rest of their lives. Stroll the elevated walkway and enjoy watching the animals roam on a HUGE property. More Info
photo courtesy of the wild animal sanctuary
12. Take a Hot Air Baloon Ride in the Winter Park Fraser Valley - The picturesque Winter Park Fraser Valley is surrounded by majestic mountains and has some of the best views of peaks into Rocky Mountain National Park. This area has some of the best ballooning in the World! Views of the mountain ranges that surround this valley are big, bold, and beautiful! It has an abundance of Colorado wildlife, history, and much more. Really see the Rockies and enjoy an engaging tour of them & Man's 1st Form of Flight. Reserve through Grand Adventure Balloon Tours.
Photo Courtesy of Grand Adventure Balloon Tours
13. Visit Swetsville Zoo - Swetsville Zoo in Fort Collins is a bit of a misnomer—there are no cages, no exotic animals, no one charging admission and telling you to follow the signs. The “zoo” is, in fact, a roadside attraction consisting of acres and acres of the sculpture park.
The owner of the property, Bill Swets, is also the artist. Since 1985, he’s welded approximately a hundred and eighty metal sculptures out of scrap metal, old car parts, and defunct farm equipment. His sculptures range from dinosaurs to flowers to one of the movie-famous Minions.
Swetsville Zoo, CO. Photo: TheMuuj
14. Visit the Paint Mines - Near Colorado Springs, the park consists of 4 miles of trails that rise over 500 feet in elevation. It covers 750 acres, containing grassland and geological formations of hoodoos, colored clay, and sandstone-capped spires. The site is protected by law because of the fragile environment, as well as the geological and archaeological significance of the artifacts, rocks, animals, and plants. Each year the park is visited by birdwatchers, hikers, geological enthusiasts, and anyone looking for an other-worldly escape.
Photo courtesy of Paint mines interpretive park
15. Get a Drink at the Cooper Lounge - The Cooper Lounge offers the experience of the 1930’s power lounge with a glamorous Hollywood vibe serving high-end cocktails and an extensive wine list. Appropriately occupying the stunning mezzanine balcony, connecting to the Crawford Hotel in the newly renovated Union Station. As the power, money, and sophistication of post-prohibition lounges where movie stars and aristocrats mixed with the bourgeoisie, The Cooper Lounge will be the hot spot for power brokers and relaxed imbibers alike. Enjoy the exquisite design with views of downtown through the huge, historic windows along 17th street or look down on the restored terminal lobby, now christened the Great Hall.
Cooper Lounge courtesy of Facebook
16. Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway - The Cog has been climbing Pikes Peak since 1891. We are proud to be one of the most unique experiences in the country. Recognized as the world’s highest cog railroad, The Broadmoor Manitou, and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is an important part of the heritage of the Western United States. Taking this journey is like walking the footsteps of history, and now the adventure is even more iconic and inspiring. Click Here for Tickets
Photo courtesy of cnntraveler
17. Hike to Hanging Lake - Hanging Lake is a Colorado treasure and a rare example of a travertine geological formation located in the heart of Glenwood Canyon on the White River National Forest. The 1.2 mile (1.9 km) trail is steep, rigorous, and rocky but rewarding. This National Natural Landmark features awe-inspiring scenery and gentle waterfalls! The Hanging Lake trail is a backcountry hike. While you don’t need to be an expert hiker, please be advised that if you have physical limitations, you will find the hike challenging. At the beginning and end of the hiking trail, it is steep, rugged, and rocky. In just over a mile, the trail gains an elevation of 1200 feet (366 m). Small children and the elderly have found this hike especially difficult.
photo by 5280
18. Go Tubing on Clear Creek - Golden’s section of Clear Creek is one of the best tubing areas close to Denver. On a hot, sunny day, it can’t be beaten. Clear Creek Whitewater Park offers exciting ripples, waves, and drops. Anybody looking for a lazier float can avoid a lot of the whitewater by choosing the right stretch of Clear Creek. It’s free to tube, as long as you have a tube.
Photo courtesy of thirst colorado
19. Visit the Breckenridge Troll -Isak Heartstone is a 15-foot tall wooden troll sculpture located on the Trollstigen Trail in Breckenridge, Colorado. The newly constructed trailhead is located in the southeast corner of the Stephen C. West Ice Arena parking lot, next to Illinois Gulch Trailhead.
Originally built as a part of the annual Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) held in August, Isak was created by the Danish artist Thomas Dambo, who is known worldwide for bringing awareness to recycling and upcycling by building great things out of trash.
20. See the Dillon Ice Castles - Sure, Colorado is home to several castles, but none as unique as the ice castles that make their appearance in Dillon each winter. As one of the more photographed displays Colorado offers, the ice castles allow visitors the opportunity to walk inside and around 25 million pounds of ice. There’s an ever-changing colored display of twinkling LED lights embedded into the ice itself. The display features ice-carved tunnels, flowing fountains, ice slides, and what seem to be endless towers of ice mixed with colorful lights, and unique features called frozen thrones. The ice castles experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles, all of which are hand-placed by professional ice artists.
photo courtesy of KRDO
21. Stay a Night at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park - In a place as rugged as Rocky Mountain National Park, a stately Victorian mansion stands out. The hotel was simply a stylish building until Stephen King spent a night there in 1974. It hadn’t been renovated at the time and its former luster had begun to fade, lending it a spooky aura. According to King, he and his wife were the only guests there as the staff prepared to close up for the winter. Wandering the nearly empty halls, it occurred to King that it would make an ideal setting for a ghost story. Make Reservations
Photo courtesy of Trivago
22. Get Dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange -
Denver’s original steakhouse, The Buckhorn Exchange is located in the city’s oldest neighborhood, just 5-minutes from downtown Denver -- with a light-rail stop right across the street. This National Historic Landmark and Western Museum have been serving the finest in Old West fare since 1893.
Prime Grade Beef Steaks, Buffalo, Elk, Colorado Lamb, Fish, Fowl, and Baby Back Pork Ribs are just some of the marvelous offerings on the Buckhorn menu. Exotic appetizers such as rattlesnake and alligator tail are available, and no dinner is complete without the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Photo Courtesy of the Buckhorn Exchange
Here's a checklist to keep track of your journey along the way, which you can download as a PDF here.Neil Walton on