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Alberta Falls at Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado’s Mighty Four National Parks

Though the National Park Service preserves many sites in Colorado, only four of these vast playgrounds have been given the title of “park.”

Centennial State visitors may wander the iconic Rocky Mountains, sandboard the Great Sand Dunes, raft the Gunnison River, and explore the Cliff Palace – all thanks to the hardworking folks over at the NPS.


1. Rocky Mountain

One of the more famous playgrounds operated by the NPS, the Rocky Mountain National Park covers more than 265,000 acres in northern Colorado, and offers four visitor centers. Set near Estes Park, Rocky Mountain features everything from hiking, biking, fishing and wildlife viewing to horseback riding, rock climbing, and mountaineering.

Visitors enjoy – or maybe not – following the edge-of-cliff drive along the well-known Trail Ridge Road, hiking to the scenic Alberta Falls, or circling the stunning Bear Lake. Winter activities at RMNP include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, telelmark skiing, and alpine touring.

Nearby hotels:

BEST WESTERN PLUS Silver Saddle

BEST WESTERN PLUS Crossroads Inn & Conference Center

BEST WESTERN University Inn

BEST WESTERN Kiva Inn

BEST WESTERN PLUS Boulder Inn

2. Great Sand Dunes

Located in the San Luis Valley, set in south-central Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes National Park preserves North America’s steepest sand dunes at 750 feet – plus plenty of wilderness for recreation and wildlife. Set near Alamosa, the park covers nearly 150,000 acres.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve features some unique activities, including sandboarding, sand sledding, and stargazing, plus hiking, bird watching in the wetlands, and fishing Medano Creek.

Nearby hotels:

BEST WESTERN Alamosa Inn

BEST WESTERN Movie Manor

BEST WESTERN Rambler

3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Set in western Colorado near Montrose, Gunnison, and Crawford, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is ready to pack your itinerary. Spanning 30,000 acres southeast of Grand Junction and Clifton, Black Canyon yields hiking, intense rock climbing, fishing, and famous scenic drives. 

Dry activities include hiking the inner Black Canyon, horseback riding, and checking out one of 12 scenic overlooks along the South Rim Road – plus the North Rim and East Portal roads. Wet activities include rafting, kayaking, and fishing for wild trout in the Gunnison River.

Nearby hotels:

BEST WESTERN Grande River Inn & Suites

4. Mesa Verde

Preserving more than 600 cliff dwellings, and more than 4,000 archaeological sites, the Mesa Verde National Park is set in southwestern Colorado – otherwise known as the “archaeological heartland of the United States.” A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Mesa Verde is located just south of Cortez – and not far from Four Corners.

Covering more than 50,000 acres Mesa Verde is the National Park Service’s largest archaeological preserve – and was established in 1906 by the man himself, Teddy Roosevelt. Today visitors enjoy guided tours of the cliff dwellings, hiking, winter recreation, and exploring the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, Spruce Tree House, and the Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center.

Nearby hotels:

BEST WESTERN Turquoise Inn & Suites

BEST WESTERN Mountain Shadows

BEST WESTERN Durango Inn & Suites

BEST WESTERN PLUS Rio Grande Inn

Best Western Hotels Along the Way:

1

Best Western Alamosa Inn

2005 Main Street, Alamosa CO 81101-2322
Phone: (719) 589-2567  |  Fax: (719) 589-8998  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

2

Best Western Plus Boulder Inn

770 28th Street, Boulder CO 80303-2343
Phone: (303) 449-3800  |  Fax: (303) 402-9118  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

3

Best Western Grande River Inn & Suites

3228 I-70 Business Loop, Clifton CO 81520-7600
Phone: 970-434-3400  |  Fax: (970) 434-4567  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

4

Best Western Turquoise Inn & Suites

535 E Main Street, Cortez CO 81321-3319
Phone: (970) 565-3778  |  Fax: (970) 565-3439  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

5

Best Western Mountain Shadows

3255 Main Avenue, Durango CO 81301-4248
Phone: (970) 247-5200  |  Fax: (970) 247-5200  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

6

Best Western Durango Inn & Suites

21382 US Highway 160 W, Durango CO 81303-6857
Phone: (970) 247-3251  |  Fax: (970) 385-4835  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

7

Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

400 E 2nd Avenue, Durango CO 81301-5602
Phone: (970) 385-4980  |  Fax: (970) 385-5152  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

8

Best Western Plus Silver Saddle Inn

1260 Big Thompson Avenue, Estes Park CO 80517-8929
Phone: (970) 586-4476  |  Fax: (970) 586-5530  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

9

Best Western University Inn

914 S College Avenue, Fort Collins CO 80524-3033
Phone: (970) 484-2984  |  Fax: (970) 484-1987  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

10

Best Western Kiva Inn

1638 E Mulberry Street, Fort Collins CO 80524-3522
Phone: (970) 484-2444  |  Fax: (970) 221-0967  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

11

Best Western Plus Crossroads Inn & Conference Center

5542 E US Highway 34, Loveland CO 80537-8994
Phone: (970) 667-7810  |  Fax: (970) 667-1047  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

12

Best Western Movie Manor

2830 US Highway 160 W, Monte Vista CO 81144-9357
Phone: (719) 852-5921  |  Fax: (719) 852-0122  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

13

Best Western Rambler

457 US Highway 85 87, Walsenburg CO 81089-9432
Phone: (719) 738-1121  |  Fax: (719) 738-1093  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

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