Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Colorado. Our Top 10 Hidden Gems in Colorado!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Opting Out of Normal series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, but there is just something incredible about discovering something unique, different, and taking the road less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, but we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories. Each series will include a link to our favorite boondocking locations!

Here’s a fun video we made! Take a couple of minutes to explore the Midland Train Tunnels in Buena Vista! 

Twin Lakes – Twin Lakes is like no other. Incredible boondocking area (check out our boondocking link below for all the information), beautiful scenery and we met some wonderful people. The lake is incredible, with amazing kayaking and fishing. Leadville is a quaint town to visit that is pretty close.

Leadville’s Abandoned Silver Mine

There is an abandoned silver mine with wrecked and twisted structures. It’s like you’ve walked back in time. It’s interesting and eerie at the same time. Make sure to stop and soak in what might have been so long ago! And don’t miss out on the actual town of Leadville! Did you know it’s the highest incorporated town in America?

Swetsville Zoo


Ok, so don’t expect the living, real kind of animals here! Ha! This “zoo” is a cross between a junkyard and a sculpture garden, featuring animals you won’t see anywhere else. Alongside the classic dragons and trains are aliens and dinosaurs, and some things you’ll just have to ask the owner what they are. Super fun and interesting place! This is located in Fort Collins, CO. 


Paint Mines

No doubt this was a place where ancient people collected clay to be used as war paint on their bodies, or paint for their pottery  The weird stone shapes were formed by water, wind, and erosion. The spires come in shades from creamy white to orange, purple, gray, rust, and dark brown. Another ecosystem thrives there. So please read up before visiting. Another place that pups aren’t allowed. But, well worth the sites. 

Bishop’s Castle

This was by far the most bizarre place I’ve ever been to. Seriously EVER. My recommendation is to read the history of this place before going. We wrote a blog about it! Exploring Bishop Castle – The Most Unique and Bizarre Find in Colorado!

Cano’s Castle

Cano's Castle

Another bizarre castle. Well … if they build them, we will come! Another self-built castle where the towers are built largely out of beer cans (yep, you read that right) and other metal “things”. Cano’s Castle is actually four separate structures. “The king”, “the queen”, “the palace” and “the rook”. Located in Antonito, CO. On the corner of State St and E 10th Ave. If you’re around that area, you just gotta drive by. Tell me you aren’t speechless! Ha! 

Hanging Lake

Yes, the picture is real! Beautiful, right? Hanging Lake is a crystal-clear, travertine lake located high atop the cliffs of Glenwood Canyon. The hike is only a mile, but it’s steep with lots of rock scrambles. If you normally use hiking poles, I wouldn’t here. They can be cumbersome.  I added this to our list because of its amazing beauty and wonder. Hanging Lake is a geologic wonder. They ask that you not touch the lake at all. Not even dip your toe in it. It’s a perfectly balanced ecosystem. When you get there, you’ll see! Please make sure you follow their rules. No animals are allowed, so leave your pup home on this trip. UPDATE: In an effort to help keep control of the number of people, this hike is now by reservation only. So do your research. You can find more information here.

Flying Saucer House

Yep … another one! Ha! But where else can you see all these strangely built houses? If you’re in the area, it’s worth a drive-by. It’s been featured in several movies and episodes of “strange” homes on TV. The house is not a personal home today but is used for private events. Location is West on Highway 70 (away from Denver) – GPS: 39.7009, -105.2771

Geyser Spring Trail

Have you heard of this? I hadn’t either. Colorado’s only true geyser is hidden within the San Juan National Forest. Trailhead: 37.7573, -108.1278. US Forest Service says this is the only true Geyer in Colorado. If you wait around for a while, you’ll likely see it erupt but all that means is you’ll start to see it boil over the sides of the pool and overspill, so to speak. Not super impressive in comparison, but it’s still worth it since most likely you’ll not see a single soul there the entire time you’re there. You’ll most likely have it all to yourself. Pretty cool! The pool is about 82 degrees and bubbling. It’s also very stinky! Apparently sulfur is good for your skin, but no thanks! 

Independence Pass

You have to take a day and complete this drive. It’s incredible. It might not be a hidden gem, but it is truly breathtaking. If you drive it in August as we did, it’s as close to perfect weather as you can get. Here’s a short video we made, with some of the rules driving this pass.

Here are some more blogs we think you’ll enjoy!

I know I could have added about 10 more things to this list. Colorado is full of “off the beaten path” things. Please comment below if you have a really cool place to share in Colorado. 

Looking for the best boondocking or paid campgrounds to stay in while you’re traveling in Colorado? Check out our ever-changing, always updating the list. Click the button below to see our best RV Camping in Colorado!

We hope you enjoyed and find value in our information. We’d love to hear from you! Have you seen something unique and off the beaten path you’d like to share with us? Please let us know!

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10 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path in Colorado. Our Top 10 Hidden Gems in Colorado!”

  1. Wow, definitely some out of the ordinary sites and attractions for sure! We always enjoy camping in Colorado from BC Canada. Such a beautiful State. We’re always on the look out for unique places to see & visit. Have Pinned for later! 🙂

    1. Colorado is one of our favorite states. So many amazing things to see and do in nature! 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  2. I’ve been researching Colorado for quite a few months now. I leave in about a month for a five-week trip. Had so many plans and ideas that I had to put them all in a 3-ring binder. I have a few that you mentioned on my list, but I had not heard of Midland Train Tunnels (but I will be in the Buena Vista area), the Swetsville Zoo, the Paint Mines or Cano’s Castle. I’m going to look them up right now and may add them to my already packed itinerary. Thanks for the suggestions.

    1. That’s fantastic!! I’m so glad a few of my suggestions helped. You might need another 3 weeks! We were there for 2 months and didn’t see all the things we wanted to. Buena Vista is an amazing town. LOVED it there. Great little outside eateries near the walking path. Enjoy your time!

  3. Swetsville Zoo is no longer available. I think the land was sold off to a developer. The statues were up for auction a couple weeks ago. I’m gonna miss that place – you can find a few statues around Loveland or Fort Collins, but nothing like the whole experience.

    1. Yes, I just heard last week that it closed down. So sad! I’ll update my blog. Thank you for the information.

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