Colorado is a year-round destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers of all levels. Unlike many states in the US, Colorado’s high tourist season is during the winter months. Visitors booking flights to Colorado during this time have a soft-spot for skiing, snow-boarding and cold-weather sports. But there is more to Colorado than bunny slopes and black diamonds. Colorado’s vast parkland provides an opportunity for tourists to go mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, white water rafting or just enjoy some rest and relaxation at one of its many top-rated resorts.
The western part of the state is comprised of beautiful remote desert canyons and the archaeological remnants of the cliff cities left by an ancient civilization at Mesa Verde National Park – a stark contrast to the alpine wonders that attract most visitors to Colorado.
No matter what your reason for booking flights to Colorado, you’re sure to leave the state with memories of spacious skies and purple mountains majesty.
Coloradans claim their weather is perfect. The state averages 296 sunny days a year. There isn’t much precipitation in the lower elevations, but there are tremendous amounts of snow in the mountains. Winter starts in late November and, depending on the snow depth, lasts into April. In Denver and Colorado Springs, summer days are hot and dry and the evenings mild. Summer comes to the mountains in June, and the warm weather lasts until mid-September. Winter hits around mid-November, though snowstorms can start in the mountains in September. The climate from one area to another can be dramatically different due to the difference in elevation and the orientation of mountain ranges and valleys.
Summer, Memorial Day to Labor Day, is the peak season with lots of crowds and high rates. The ski resorts peak again in winter, and they are as crowded in July as they are in February.
The closest you will come to off season are the autumn and spring shoulder seasons. The wineries are in production and draw visitors. The autumn also sees aspen trees turning to gold, and spring sees the blooming wildflowers. The best time to book Colorado flights is mid-September through October as the weather usually stays warm.
A study that examined 350 million airfares between the U.S. and 3,000 markets found that travelers generally get the best deal by booking between 3 weeks and 3-1/2 months before to travel. If you want a flight around Thanksgiving or Christmas, however, you should book as soon as possible since those fares rise closer to holiday dates.
When you fly out of Miami or New York City, you generally arrive in Colorado in just under 4 hours. Flights from Dallas typically take right under 2 hours, while those departing from Chicago arrive in just over 2 hours. These time windows don’t include time you spend taxiing before take off or after landing at your destination.
Most major carriers offer direct flights to the Mile High City, including Southwest Airlines, United, American Airlines, Virgin America and Delta. Smaller regional domestic airlines also provide direct flights to Denver International, such as Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Great Lakes Airlines and Penair. International carriers with flights to Colorado include ANA, Volaris and Icelandair.
Range in elevation across Colorado make it necessary to bring along clothing you can layer year-round. If you plan to go in the winter, pack a fleece jacket, a water-resistant coat or jacket, jeans and thermal underwear. If you plan to ski, take your gear along with snow pants and boots. If you’re planning a spring trip, include T-shirts, light fleece pullovers, jeans, shorts, a rain jacket and comfortable, preferably water-resistant shoes. Summer travelers should pack a light jackets shorts and jeans, pants for hiking, warmer clothing for camping expeditions and a swimsuit. Pull-on or cardigan sweaters also make a great choice in any season.
Denver is a transportation hub for Colorado, both for entering and leaving the state – and for finding transportation to other Colorado destinations. For a stay in Denver, you can rely on public transportation. Taxis and shuttles are also available in other large cities and towns. To help you get around the state, there are commuter airlines and shuttle buses from the Denver airport. Amtrak has a couple of routes through the state, and some say the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in the southwest is a must-see destination.
Getting around the state usually involves a car to some extent, and with visitor centers statewide, you have little trouble getting directions and tips on getting from one place to another.
A world-renowned destination for cyclists, interstate highway shoulders are open to cyclists (except in urban areas). The mountain roads are more demanding, and one of the most popular and challenging routes is the Million Dollar Highway.
Colorado has a diverse array of historic sites, modern attractions and natural destinations, so where you go and what you do really depends on your interest. If you want to learn more about the state’s history, start your exploration at the Mesa Verde State Park, where you can view ancient cliff dwellings, or the Bachelor Syracuse Mine, which presents a realistic depiction of a 19th-century mining camp. To get an authentic taste of the past, hop a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which takes travelers the 46 miles from Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico, and back again daily. The Hidee Gold Mine in Central City and Old Hundred Gold Mine in Silverton give tours of these historic sites and let you pan mine for your own nugget.
If you want to enjoy a more modern vacation, Colorado has you covered. Elitch Gardens Theme Park in Denver has roller coasters and other exciting rides to get your blood pumping, and it also has an attached water park when you want to cool things down. The North Pole Home of Santa’s Workshop in Cascade brings out the child in everyone, while Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs provides rides and other amusement park-style experiences. The Downtown Aquarium in Denver lets you explore both native and exotic species, while the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs lets you get up close and personal with a wide array of wildlife.
If you want to breathe the mountain air and take in all the Colorado outdoors has to offer, a wide range of options await from backpacking, ATVing and boating to ballooning, camping and skiing. Some other activities include mountain climbing Mount Evans and snowmobiling through Rocky Mountain National Park. Fishermen flock to the Frying Pan River, while birders head to Pueblo Lake State Park to catch a glimpse of resident bald eagles. No matter your preferences, when it comes to travel, Colorado truly has something for everyone.
(prices quoted are from London)