Some of Colorado’s most popular summer attractions require reservations. Now is the perfect time to make plans if you want to enjoy these popular destinations. If you go, be sure to respect the beauty and serenity of Colorado’s wild places. Always leave no trace and be kind when you’re in nature.
Colorado’s most famous 14,000-foot peak has both a road and a cog rail line to the summit. Of course, if you are super fit, you can also hike or cycle to the top of this peak, which tops out 14,115 feet above sea level.
Regardless of which transportation method you choose, you’ll want to plan ahead.
Starting this summer, reservations are required if you wish to drive to the top of Pikes Peak and park at the summit. Reservations are required from Memorial Day through the end of September. Learn more about making reservations. Find answers to frequently asked questions.
You’ll also want to make reservations in advance if you plan to ride the rail line to the top.
At the top, visitors will find the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center.
Colorado has another 14,000-foot peak with a road to the top: Mount Evans. This road takes you even higher than the route to the summit of Pikes Peak. Mount Evans tops out at 14,264 feet, making this highway the highest paved road in North America.
You will also need reservations to drive up to the Mount Evans summit. Visitors can also enjoy stops at Mount Goliath Nature Center and Summit Lake Park. The Mount Evans Road is also one of Colorado’s Scenic & Historic Byways. Read more about these stunning routes from the plains to the peaks.
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most visited national parks in the country is also Colorado’s oldest national park. Established back in 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to another 14-er, Longs Peak and many other spectacular peaks. The park attracts more than 4.4 million people a year. Another famous Scenic Byway, Trail Ridge Road, takes visitors from Estes Park on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake on the west side. Trail Ridge Road leads visitors to mesmerizing high-altitude vistas.
Due to high demand, reservations are required to enter Rocky Mountain National Park during the peak season from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-October. To purchase your timed entry pass, visit Recreation.org.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Maroon Bells or have seen photos of this pair of iconic red bell-shaped peaks near Aspen. Their claim to fame is some of the most photographed mountains in North America. The peaks are 14-ers but are dangerous to climb, except for very experienced mountaineers. Even so, the valley that is home to these showy peaks, the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, is extremely popular, so much so that you must have reservations to visit the area between mid-May and late October.
Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
One of the most popular wilderness areas in the country lies west of Denver and Boulder. Due to its beauty and proximity to large metropolitan areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area now requires reservations both for day hiking and for camping.
The parking areas at Brainard Lake and Long Lake are excellent gateways for beautiful hikes in the summer and fall. It’s one of the most popular places in Colorado to hike with dogs. (Be sure to keep your dog on leash.) As with all high-altitude hikes, check the weather in advance and bring plenty of food, water, rain gear and extra clothing. You’ll start at about 10,000 feet above sea level and will venture higher in altitude if you’re planning any hikes.
The Manitou Incline
One of Colorado’s most popular places to test your physical fitness lies just west of Colorado Springs in Manitou Springs.
The Manitou Incline is an advanced, very steep hike up an old railroad bed. For hearty hikers and runners, the incline boasts 2,744 steps straight up. Incline enthusiasts gain nearly 2,000 vertical feet over less than one mile.
The trail has become so popular that reservations for the Manitou Incline are now required.
One of Colorado’s most popular hikes leads to a serene lake in Glenwood Canyon. Because Hanging Lake has garnered so much attention, the U.S. Forest Service created a reservation system to hike or bike to Hanging Lake. For now, Hanging Lake is closed due to damage to the trail from recent wildfires. Stay tuned to learn if Hanging Lake will reopen to visitors.