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  • View of Pikes Peak, the most-visited mountain in the USA
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    Rugged, Vibrant and Adventurous Colorado Springs

  • View overlooking Salida's quaint streets and surrounding landscape
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    Charming Salida: Family-friendly and Affordable

  • A stream flows through a flowery meadow on the Grand Mesa in Grand Junction, Colorado
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    Grand Junction: A Dramatically Different Side of Colorado

The scenic Rim Rock Drive through the Colorado National Monument
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Visit Grand Junction

Colorado Mountain Cities Road Trip

  • Route distance:
  • Suggested Time:
    5 days

Follow along for outdoor and urban adventures in Colorado Springs, Salida and Grand Junction.

With its picturesque landscapes and beautiful seasonal weather, Colorado is a state that’s made for road tripping. For nature lovers, it’s a dream: High mountain trails, steamy natural springs, vast canyons, towering cliffs, desert dunes and the rolling Colorado River all provide endless opportunities for adventure. Culture enthusiasts will find no shortage of museums, historic districts, diverse dining and shopping. This road trip features three of the state’s can’t-miss cities and towns, offering everything from high-thrill experiences to accessible activities for families.

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View of Pikes Peak, the most-visited mountain in the USA
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Rugged, Vibrant and Adventurous Colorado Springs

Pick up a rental car at Denver International Airport (DEN) and head to Colorado Springs, a 1.5-hour drive south. This popular tourist destination is home to Garden of the Gods, a historic park known for its beautiful red sandstone formations and views of towering Pikes Peak, the most visited mountain in the USA. Colorado Springs is a year-round destination with plenty of activities, both indoors and out. Tour the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center, the National Museum of World War II Aviation and much more. Meanwhile, outdoor thrill seekers can go zip-lining at 1,900 meters along cliff edges and through deep forests, and enjoy a rafting trip on the Arkansas River in the Royal Gorge Region. Explore Garden of the Gods Park on a Segway tour, fly high above the city in a hot air balloon, take a relaxing horseback ride through Pike National Forest and enjoy three historic train rides through the region. For the ultimate adventure, book a Jeep tour to the top of Pikes Peak, then bicycle down! The jaw-dropping views from this 4,300-meter mountaintop inspired the song “America the Beautiful.” Adventures Out West offers all of these exciting activities. Treat yourself with a stay overnight; options include dude ranches, bed & breakfast inns, cabins, glamping and some of the finest hotels in the state.

166 km
2 hours by car
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View overlooking Salida's quaint streets and surrounding landscape
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Charming Salida: Family-friendly and Affordable

The route from Colorado Springs to Salida hugs the Arkansas River, famous among anglers for world-class trout fishing. Family-friendly Salida is also located on the banks of the river, and water sports feature prominently on the itinerary when you visit. River Runners offers professionally outfitted fun on the water for all experience levels, including stand-up paddle boarding, tubing, kayaking and whitewater rafting. Experienced mountain bikers will enjoy a challenging ride on the high-altitude Monarch Crest Trail that winds along part of the Continental Divide; at more than 3,600 meters altitude, it boasts some of the most spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery around. Another mountain biking option closer to town is the Arkansas Hills Trails System. If extreme adventures aren’t your style, you can keep it low-key in Salida, too. Take a relaxing stroll along the riverfront path and hang out on the riverside beach, then explore downtown’s charming shops, funky art galleries, casual restaurants and pubs – Salida is a Certified Colorado Creative District and has the largest historic district in the state. You’ll find affordable lodging for an overnight stay – including hundreds of rooms within walking distance of the Salida Hot Springs – before heading farther west to Grand Junction.

304 km
3.5 hours by car
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A stream flows through a flowery meadow on the Grand Mesa in Grand Junction, Colorado
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Grand Junction: A Dramatically Different Side of Colorado

In non-winter months, stop at the Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway for a tram ride up Monarch Mountain on your way west to Grand Junction. The panoramic views at 3,447 meters are breathtaking. Set in a fertile valley, Grand Junction is blessed with breathtaking scenery and outdoor attractions. It’s the ideal home base for a visit to Colorado National Monument, a park often compared to the Grand Canyon, as well as Grand Mesa, the largest flat-top mountain in the world. Take a drive on the 101-kilometer Grand Mesa Scenic Byway for an abundance of photo opportunities featuring dense alpine forests, more than 300 scenic lakes and the Grand Valley below. Outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and fishing are accessible from the byway as well. Go canoeing in the lakes surrounding Mesa Lakes Lodge. Explore the shorter Mesa Lake Shore and Land O’ Lakes Trails, or try a day-long excursion on the Crag Crest Trail, located dramatically atop the spine of the Grand Mesa. Back in town, Grand Junction offers shopping, dining, cultural attractions and public art installations – the perfect setting for an overnight stay before the four-hour drive back to Denver International Airport.

Official Colorado Travel Site

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