Colorado Travel
Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

The Best 7-Day Itinerary When Visiting Colorado

Embark on an unforgettable journey through Colorado, beginning at Great Sand Dunes National Park. This blog presents a comprehensive 7-day itinerary encompassing majestic sand dunes, breathtaking mountains, and captivating attractions. If you have more than seven days, please spend more time at each location, as there is just so much to see and do.

Day 1 – Sand Dunes National Park

Welcome to Colorado! Start your adventure by arriving at Great Sand Dunes National Park, a unique gem nestled in the southern part of the state. Witness the surreal landscape of North America’s tallest sand dunes, some reaching up to 750 feet high! Spend the day hiking, sandboarding, or simply soaking in the awe-inspiring vistas. As the sun sets, capture stunning photographs of the dunes painted in golden hues. Camp at the park’s designated campgrounds for a memorable experience under the starry sky.

Day 2 – Durango

Drive to Durango, a town renowned for its outdoor activities and Western heritage. For adventure seekers, the Animas River offers excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking. Alternatively, take a historic ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which winds through the scenic San Juan National Forest. Explore Durango’s downtown in the evening, filled with galleries, shops, and delightful dining options.

Day 3 – Million Dollar Highway

Nestled amidst the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, the Million Dollar Highway is a legendary stretch of road that promises an unforgettable driving experience. Known for its hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs, and jaw-dropping vistas, this scenic byway is an adventure-seekers dream and a feast for the eyes. Make sure you drive towards Ouray.

Day 4 – Ouray

Make your way to the enchanting town of Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its stunning alpine scenery. Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring Ouray’s charming Main Street, lined with Victorian-era buildings, housing shops, and eateries. Unwind in the town’s natural hot springs or visit the Box Canyon Falls Park for a short but beautiful hike.

Ouray Colorado

Day 5 – Telluride

Journey to the charming mountain town of Telluride. In the summer, hike along scenic trails, take a gondola ride for stunning views, or relax in the town’s natural hot springs. During the winter, hit the slopes for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Stroll along Telluride’s quaint streets, lined with colorful buildings and unique boutiques. Catch a live performance at the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride Colorado

Day 6 – Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Journey to Gunnison, a picturesque town with a charming Western vibe. Make sure to stop by the iconic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Gunnison Colorado

Marvel at the sheer cliffs and narrow, deep canyon carved by the Gunnison River over millions of years. The park offers various viewpoints and hiking trails, providing captivating perspectives of this natural wonder. After exploring the canyon, continue to Gunnison to relax and enjoy the local hospitality.

Day 7 – Crested Butte

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte, Colorado, is a hidden gem that beckons visitors with its enchanting beauty and genuine mountain charm. Known as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado” and revered as a winter wonderland, this picturesque town offers an array of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences throughout the year.

From the vibrant city life of Denver to the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers something for everyone, whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or history enthusiast. Happy travels and make lots of cherished.

Here are a few more blogs about Colorado you might enjoy!

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Travel Colorado
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

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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. 

Swetsville-Zoo-1

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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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Exploring Bishop Castle – The Most Unique and Bizarre Find in Colorado!

We love exploring the off-the-beaten-path, unique and different things as well as the big touristy things. It’s why we decided to write this series. A couple of years ago while doing some research on Colorado, I knew when I got here I needed to see Bishop Castle. Located in Rye, Colorado, this amazing, unique, weird, and crazy place did not disappoint. Not only is the drive amazing to get there, but this castle was the most unique thing we’ve ever seen. I had also done a lot of reading about Jim Bishop, how he came to build this bizarre castle, and his story. It’s a sad, and also encouraging story. You can read his story HERE

We spent the day exploring crazy hallways that led to yet another staircase to yet another room to yet another staircase, and I found myself trying to backtrack to the original room because from that room I knew I had seen several other doors leading to different places. It’s definitely a fascinating maze. After a few hours of walking through this maze, we started to think we had explored the whole thing. (From our truck we realized we had not explored one whole tower. Well … we’ll have to go back won’t we!) 

BishopCastle13 copy

Our Chance Meeting

On our way out we headed over to where it looked like some construction might be going on. I just wanted to see the castle from the side. We figured if we weren’t supposed to be over there, we’d see a blocked-off section. To my surprise, an older gentleman who was placing mortar and rocks up from above said “how did you like your visit”. I told him “it was bizarre and amazing”.

Jim Bishop1 copy

He said, “I’m Jim Bishop … I started building this castle at 15 years old”. What an honor to meet this man! And to see him still there, building his castle. We stood there and chatted with him for about 20 minutes, while he placed more mortar and rocks, one by one. What a story. What a life. He’s still there building. Every rock. Every stone. Every piece of metal. He is still the sole builder of this castle. He divided his time between continual building and spending the last days with his wife, Phoebe, who just passed away on August 18th, 2018. They were married for over 50 years. The story is just remarkable, sad, and in a roundabout way, very uplifting.

The Story Behind the Man

Jim lost a son at the age of 4 years old when a tree that he and his older son was cutting down fell on him. Read the story of why the main room ceiling and roof are glass. He’s no stranger to loss, that’s for sure. I have really found his story fascinating, and I encourage you to read it prior to visiting. It will give you more of an understanding of the bizarre and crazy structures you are going to visit, and why the weird signs are placed all over the property. He also fights the government every day because they want him to charge people and pay taxes on that money. This is why it will always remain free to visit (he says). You’ll see signs everywhere with a glimpse of his story as well. If you like visiting different and unique places, you won’t be sorry. You may even be lucky enough to see Jim, up on a wall, still building his castle. 

This 10-minute conversation with Jim Bishop taught me so much about love, loss, and determination. Enjoy this adventurous place, and please leave him a donation. He very graciously shares his bizarre world with us!

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Looking for some other great things in Colorado? Check out some of our other Colorado blogs!

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