The National Park Service offers free days throughout the year that make it even easier to visit Colorado’s 12 stunning national parks, monuments and historic areas.
In November, we honor veterans all month, and on Veterans Day, November 11, you can take advantage of free entry at National Park Service facilities to enjoy some of Colorado’s most beautiful preserved lands.
Whether you want to hike, snowshoe or see snow-covered peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park, slide down the dunes or enjoy starry nights at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve or see how the Ancestral Pueblo people carved homes in cliffs at Mesa Verde National Park, National Park Service free days provide a great opportunity to discover the beauty and rich history close to home.
Here’s a roundup from the National Park Service of National Parks, National Monuments and National Historic Sites in Colorado that you can enjoy on a free day or any time of year.
La Junta, Colorado
Bent’s Old Fort features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds, and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events.
Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.
Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.
Curecanti is a series of three reservoirs along the once wild Gunnison River. The reservoirs that make up Curecanti today are a destination for water-based recreation high in the Rocky Mountains. Best known for salmon and trout fishing, Curecanti also offers opportunities for hiking, boating, camping, and bird watching.
Vernal, Utah & Dinosaur, Colorado
Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still visibly embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert, and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Whether your passion is science, adventure, history or scenery, Dinosaur offers much to explore.
Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado.
Open 24/7 year-round! There are no reservations to visit or limit on the number of visitors in the park and preserve, but there is currently limited capacity in the visitor center. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.
Cortez, Colorado and Blanding, Utah
Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.
Cortez and Mancos, Colorado
This wild landscape of deep canyons and expansive vistas is home to over a thousand species, including several that live nowhere else on earth. For over 700 years, the Ancestral Pueblo people built thriving communities on the mesas and in the cliffs of Mesa Verde. Today, the park protects the rich cultural heritage of 26 tribes and offers visitors a spectacular window into the past.
Estes Park and Grand Lake, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times.
Read about great hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Many of these routes are great for snowshoeing during the winter.
Kiowa County, Colorado
The Sand Creek Massacre: profound, symbolic, spiritual, controversial, a site unlike any other in America. As 675 cavalrymen came around a prairie bend, the camps of Chiefs Black Kettle, White Antelope, and Left Hand lay in the valley before them. Chaotic, horrific, tumultuous, and bloody, the events of November 29, 1864 changed the course of history.
Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and beauty for future generations of scientists and visitors. Experience a sense of discovery by visiting a site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years.