Top 5 summer highs in Colorado’s mountains

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The US state of Colorado is often considered purely a ski destination, thanks mostly to an elevation 4,200m above sea level graced with groomed slopes and plush resorts. But Colorado’s high country lures adventurous women year-round to its hiking and biking trails, rock climbing challenges with relaxing hot springs aplenty.

Check out these five incredible high country adventures for outdoorsy women who are partial to a side of adrenalin-fuelled summer mountain action.

Credit Liam Doran

Credit Liam Doran

Ride Colorado’s slopes on a bike built for mountains

Colorado is a mecca for cyclists that are seeking challenging climbs with rewarding views. The state pioneered women’s cycling with the Colorado Classic in 2019 becoming the first and only UCI women’s standalone stage race in the western hemisphere. Between April and September Sacred Rides runs a Ladies Day Out! series. These cycling trips are guided by professionals and offer women the chance to experience Boulder’s array of mountain bike trails, with a mantra of ‘no dudes, no attitude’. For the ultimate cycling challenge you can cycle one of Colorado’s famed ‘Fourteeners’ (mountains summiting at over 14,000 ft or 4,200m), with just two of these having paved roads – Mt. Evans and Pikes Peak. Other impressive biking destinations include Colorado National Monument for road cycling or Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Telluride and Aspen for their epic mountain bike trails.

Colorado rock climbin.JPG

Spend the night on a cliff ledge

Yes, you read that right! Wake up to sunrise with, literally, a birds-eye view of the Rocky Mountains. Rock climbing and adventure school, KMAC, takes adventurers to brave new heights, pitching up an overnight ledge on a cliff edge, hundreds of metres above the ground. The opportunity to sleep on a cliff was once only the domain of pro-climbers. Now, anyone with a sense of adventure can do it – though we wouldn’t recommend it for sleep walkers or anxious sleepers. KMAC take care of all the pesky details, with cliffside catering that pro athletes and big-wall climbers could once only dream of. Think, gourmet dinner with wine (not too much, mind!) and a fresh-cooked omelette and latte breakfast.

If sleeping on the side of the cliff sounds a little too much, you could do a day climb and be rewarded with a cliffside picnic. Or rather a cliffnic before retreating to the safety of more conventional digs at the mountain town of Estes Park.

Colorado Trail hiking. Credit Scott Anderson

Colorado Trail hiking. Credit Scott Anderson

Hike the famous Colorado Trails

High altitude hiking opportunities abound in Colorado with a myriad of trails 41 state parks and four national parks. You could safely hike alone or alternatively, join a guided day hike or multi-day backcountry treks through Rocky Mountain National Park and Vail’s Backcountry. If mixing it with the fellas is not your thing, join a women-only wilderness hike with Aspen Alpine Guides’ Leave the Boys Behind program or Wildland Trekking’s Women’s Adventure Trips.

In Aspen, Colorado’s most famous trails include the Colorado Trail (500 miles/800km ) and the largest road-free section of the Continental Divide Trail (650 miles/1045km), with the two of these running together through much of Lake County. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is often referred to as a living museum of the American West, spanning over 3,000 miles/4830km across five states. Discover the hidden gem of South Fork – the official CDT gateway community and an ideal basecamp for taking in the full suite of Colorado adventures – including angling in Gold Star waters, 4×4 jeep touring, exploring geological wonders and abandoned ghost towns. The trail itself takes you through remote glacial valleys and Colorado’s wilderness.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Trail, popular with backpackers and experienced hikers, crosses and descends the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Durango, passing beneath ‘Fourteener’ mountains, beside rushing rivers and through wildflower meadows. As one of the USA’s premier long-distance trails, it takes at least 21 days to traverse its entire length.

Yoga on the Rocks. Credit Dan and Zora Avila

Yoga on the Rocks. Credit Dan and Zora Avila

Try Yoga on the Rocks

Take your yoga practice out of the classroom and into one of the best outdoor music venues in the world. On selected dates each summer, you can experience the extraordinary Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park location from a yoga perspective, like Downward facing dog pose.

 Yoga on the Rocks sees yogis unite for a mass yoga session in the awe-inspiring setting, facing the stage that once hosted The Beatles and U2, among other legendary performers. Surrounded by red rocks and rolling hills, the venue sits within a Denver Mountain Park, with hiking and biking trails that are well-worth exploring. Book online in advance as these events, and others like Barre on the Rocks, sell out fast!

Steamboat Hot Springs

Steamboat Hot Springs

Take a road trip around Colorado’s Historic Hot Springs

Far from your typical pampering spa and wellness getaway, this road trip connects 19 of Colorado’s historic hot spring pools across five locations on an epic 720mile/1160km loop. Thermal hot springs, which were first discovered by the Ute Indians who used them for their healing powers, flow through Colorado. Glenwood Springs, located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is home to the largest mineral pool in the world, as well as the Yampah Vapor Caves,  a naturally occurring underground steam bath. Either hot springs provide a perfect setting for relaxation as the sun sets after adventure-fuelled days.  

In the southwest of the state, Ouray is America’s answer to Switzerland, with its dramatic views of the San Juan Mountains combined with elegant Victorian architecture that dates back to America’s gold rush years. Get the blood pumping with canyoning (the area is popular with ice-climbers in winter) before relaxing  in sulphur-free hot spring pools created by the same geological forces that attracted miners. While you’re on the Historic Hot Springs Loop, don’t miss Pagosa Springs, which is surrounded by 3m acres of national forest and is home to the world’s deepest geothermal aquifer. 

More inspiration:

Best time to visit: June to October (for summer activities)

About the author: Fiona Harper is a Queensland-based travel writer – follow Fiona at Travel Boating Lifestyle

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