Colorado may be most famous for its world-class ski slopes nestled in the Rockies, but the state also boasts a treasure trove of summer activities. From hiking through the Rocky Mountain National Park to sailing and riding a hot air balloon, these cities in Colorado have it all. Book a stay at one of numerous Colorado vacation rentals in one of these breathtaking towns for an unforgettable summer getaway.
A quaint mountain town located in the San Juan Mountains in the southern part of the state, Ouray invites tourists during the summer months with its action-oriented attractions. Make the hike to Bear Creek Falls to see the breathtaking cascades, or enjoy some mountain biking with the family along the Ridgeway Area Trail System. To see the surrounding peaks from horseback, book a ride with Action Adventures Trail Rides. For some winding down before heading back to your rustic cabin vacation rental, brush up on Ouray’s mining history at Bachelor Syracuse Mine, or take a relaxing dip in the mineral waters at Ouray Hot Springs Park.
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2. Steamboat Springs
This picturesque Rocky Mountain ski town may be packed in the winter, but during the comfortable summer months, it’s a hub of outdoor adventures and traditional Western fun. Take the family to the Coca Cola Adventure Zone to hang out on the ropes course or try the climbing wall, or spend a hot day tubing or canoeing down the calm stretches of the Yampa River. For a special treat, drive up to the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs nestled in the mountains. Don’t miss the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo that draws visitors weekly during the summer months, or take your little ones to enjoy the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in July. Another summer favorite is the Yampa River Festival in June that features a stand-up paddle boarding contest, whitewater rafting and much more.
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3. Crested Butte
This small town at the base of the Rockies wows visitors with its 9,000-foot elevation and the strew of blooms that has earned it the title of Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Find a cozy vacation rental with views of the afternoon Alpenglow, and spend your summer vacation days whitewater rafting through Taylor Canyon. Numerous trails snake through the Butte region, including a hike up Snodgrass Mountain with breathtaking views of the town below. For some family fun, be sure to check out the Trailhead Children’s Museum, and catch the Crested Butte Music Festival in July, which hosts a family-friendly concert. You can also check out the Wildflower Festival that takes place the same month.
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4. Buena Vista
A chic mountain town scene with a heart for outdoor adventure, Buena Vista lies just east of the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks. Stop by in late summer to catch the family-friendly Gold Rush Days that draw visitors every August, or enjoy some laid-back live music at The Beach, one of Buena Vista’s most popular music hot spots. If you seek outdoor thrills, start your rafting adventure from Buena Vista River Park, or get your adrenaline fix from the zipline at Arkansas Valley Adventures. If you’re looking for a nightlife scene, Buena Vista has you covered with a colorful range of upscale grills and distilleries such as the Deerhammer Distilling Company. On cooler summer days, Cottonwood Hot Springs is the place to be. When planning your vacation, look for rustic vacation rentals near Cottonwood Lake, a popular spot for fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
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Boasting 310 days of sunshine, this summertime gem is an old mining town that rests at 10,000 feet, the perfect spot for relaxation and a taste of history. Bike or hike through the East Side Mining District to see old mining structures, or ride the Leadville Scenic Train for spectacular mountain views. Look for vacation rental near the shores of Twin Lakes for fishing, canoeing and boating, and try to plan your trip to catch the Leadville BBQ and Brew Festival in June. Another summer hit is the Leadville Boom Days that take place on the first weekend of August, featuring don’t-miss events such as the International Leadville Pack Burro Race.
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Telluride lies nestled in a box canyon in the San Juan Mountains. Find a vacation rental here to enjoy a hike to Bridal Veil Falls, ride the ski gondola for unbeatable mountain views, and enjoy canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding on Alta Lakes or Woods Lake. Stop in for the Bluegrass Festival and the Telluride Baloon Festival that take place June, or plan your summer vacation in August to enjoy the Telluride Jazz Festival.
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7. Grand Lake
This summer destination is just a two-hour drive from Denver, offering endless fun on the water of the lake for which it’s named. Spend your days boating and sailing on Grand Lake. If you don’t want to haul your watercraft to town, rent boats and water sports equipment from Grand Lake Marina, or just kick back on the lake’s sandy beach. Grand Lake is the home of Colorado’s biggest Independence Day fireworks display while the Regatta Week races at the Grand Week Yacht Club draw a loyal crowd in August. A Grand Lake vacation rental also gives you easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park as well as horseback adventures from Winding River Resort Stables.
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8. Glenwood Springs
Head to Glenwood Springs this summer for white-water rafting on the Colorado River, bathing in geothermal waters at Glenwood Hot Springs, and weekly summer concerts at Two Rivers Park. Families also love stopping by Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park forcave tours, an alpine coaster, and a small amusement area complete with a roller coaster. For even more fun, plan your trip around the Summer Block Party in August featuring a beer garden and plenty of kids’ activities.
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Not far from Ouray, Silverton is an Old West town nestled in the Animus River Valley. Stay here in the summer to ride a real stagecoach with Silverton Stagecoach Rides, embark on a steam locomotive with the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tour, or hike to the famous blue waters of Island Lake. Enjoy a Mild to Wild rafting tour for some adventure, or find a stream near your vacation rental to try flyfishing. Be sure to check out the Silverton Summer Concert Series at the Memorial Park.
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10. Estes Park, Colorado
A gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a haven for hiking, mountain biking, and spotting wildlife such as elk and bighorn sheep. Stop by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association to enroll in animal tracking and geocaching courses for the whole family, or enjoy the views from the Estes Park Aerial Tramway. The town is also home to go-kart tracks, mini golf courses, and other family activities. If you book your vacation rental for June, be sure to check out the Wool Market and Fishing Derby.
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