We have all changed over the past year, with hot destinations like Colorado taking the opportunity to change for the better. Colorado remains the same incredible state with so many exciting adventures on offer, like a new Rocky Mountaineer route, a beer spa (yes you read that right!), a Dark Sky Park, new museums, byways and boutique high-country properties that meld work and play seamlessly.
As we start to plan overseas adventures again, here’s ten exciting new things in Colorado that have opened, are about to open or have changed for the better. The state’s environmental ethos is stronger than ever with their Care for Colorado – Leave no Trace principle to guide travellers to care for the land, water and wildlife while helping to protect Colorado’s special places.
1. Rockies to the Red Rocks: Rocky Mountaineer’s new route from Denver
The Rocky Mountaineer is known for its picturesque rail journeys through Canada and will soon have its first route in the USA. The Rockies to the Red Rocks route will run between Denver, Colorado and Moab, Utah, with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs. Travellers will view extraordinary landscapes in the Rocky Mountains and along the Colorado River from this luxury train, cocooned in elegant SilverLeaf carriages.
The two-day journey will take in highlights such as Ruby Canyon, Mount Logan, and will cross the Continental Divide, accompanied by signature cocktails, regionally inspired dining experiences, and magnificent service. The train will operate from August to October this year.
2. Go for gold at the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum
Colorado Springs is the home of the USA Olympic team and now has even richer ties to the Olympic movement. July 2020 saw the opening of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum, one of the most accessible and interactive museums in the world. The vast building features 12 galleries allowing visitors to customise their sport or athlete preferences. Highlights include the Hall of Fame, the Medal Collection, Summer Games, Winter Games and the Parade of Nations, where visitors can experience what it feels like to walk into the Olympic Stadium at an Opening Ceremony with Team USA.
3.Pikes Peak Cog Railway to reopen
The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway, one of Colorado’s top attractions, reopens in May. The highest altitude railway in America, and the world’s highest cog railway, this iconic attraction is virtually brand new. Originally built in 1891 to carry sightseers 14km from Manitou Springs to the top of ‘America’s Mountain’, the railway has undergone a US$100m renovation of its tracks, railcars and depot. The brand-new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center will open later this year after a three-year construction process. The Center will be the most sustainable high-altitude structure in the USA. Everything about this trip is spectacular!
4. Denver’s Museum of Art Opens First Phase
Next time you visit the Denver Art Museum there will be much more to see with the reopening of the first phase of the US$150 million Martin Building. The building – the only one in North America designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti – was built in 1971 and it is fitting that in its 50th year, it has been masterfully renovated. The castle-like, seven-storey building features the new Sie Welcome Center, a restaurant, café, learning and engagement centre and architecture, design studio and design galleries. The Northwest Gallery and the Bonfils-Stanton Gallery have also reopened. All spaces in the Martin Building will be open by the end of 2021. If you can’t wait to visit Denver to see it for yourself, explore the museum online.
5. Mesa Verde National Park now a Dark Sky Park
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mesa Verde National Park, located west of Durango, has just been designated a Dark Sky Park. It is the 100th Park to receive the designation, announced by the International Dark Sky Association and the National Park Service on 5 April 2021. Mesa Verde National Park is now one of 37 places within the National Park Service with a Dark Sky designation. Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to protect the history and archaeological sites of the Ancestral Puebloan people and features more than 5,000 known sites, including mesa-top villages and cliff dwellings. The park’s high elevation, dry climate and remote location ensure exceptionally dark skies –perfect for stargazing, astral photography, and pure enjoyment.
6. Colorado’s Scenic Byways are plugging in
Colorado has 26 Scenic and Historic Byways criss-crossing the state, linking historic sites and spectacular scenic highlights. The State of Colorado is committed to electrifying all 26, meaning they are ready for travel by electric vehicle, with charging stations placed at regular intervals to allay any ‘range anxiety’ drivers might have. The Colorado Tourism Organisation has unveiled a new microsite that covers all the Byways, featuring an overview video, travel itinerary, trip tips, side-trip recommendations and a photo slideshow. One of the most scenic is the San Juan Skyway, with traverses the San Juan Mountains through popular mountain towns like Durango, Silverton, Telluride and Ouray.
The initial round to be announced this spring will include at least these byways with an additional five byways soon to be designated – giving you even more reason to hit the road!
Flat Tops Trail
Trail Ridge Road
7. Suds up at Denver’s beer spa!
There are spas, and then there are beer spas. Denver has opened its first beer spa, a modern-day wellness spa that combines a day spa with a craft beer bar. Now that has your brain bubbling over, right? The Beer Spa encourages guests to ‘relax differently’, and that won’t be too hard with its range of brew-inspired spa treatments. Sign up for the Beer Hydrotherapy and soak in a bubbly beer bath filled with hops, barley, and seasonal herbs. Sweat it in an infrared sauna, drink craft beers and try the zero gravity massage chairs.
8. Meow Wolf to stalk into Denver
Santa Fe’s highly awarded arts and entertainment group, Meow Wolf, will open a new immersive arts experience in Denver late this year. The project will feature interactive art from more than 110 local artists, alongside partner artists, and artists from the Meow Wolf team. It will be the biggest Meow Wolf installation yet and will be home to dozens of installations, rooms, portals, and wormholes layered with interactivity.
9. Follow the Mural Trails
The Colorado Tourism Office is launching a new series of itineraries that tell the stories behind noteworthy murals across the state. Mural Trails is an experience that walks visitors through each piece of art and highlights local restaurants and nearby hotels. One such itinerary is the five-day Take a Walk on the Art Side of Life tour in Denver. Currently, the itineraries are offered across the Front Range and in Mystic San Luis Valley.
10. Gravity Haus expands
Breckenridge welcomed a new boutique property – Gravity Haus – which is designed to activate a community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts all year round. Gravity Haus Vail opened in December 2020 and a third property will open in Winter Park in June 2021. Gravity Haus’ community-based hospitality model delivers an authentic mountain lifestyle for guests. Guests can fuse travel and work at these properties, thanks to functional co-working spaces, modern restaurants, holistic fitness and wellness facilities, and a growing collection of experiential retail partnerships and benefits.