Colorado’s Natural Treasures: 18 Spots to Enjoy Year-Round - Atlas Obscura Lists

Colorado’s Natural Treasures: 18 Spots to Enjoy Year-Round

Awe doesn’t take an off-season here. Visit these arches, artifacts, geysers, and springs, and see for yourself.

Colorado may be famous for its wintry ski slopes and mid-summer hiking, but the Centennial State is a true four-season destination. That’s due in part to the mild climate that graces most of the state. Even in winter, Colorado’s surreal deserts and southern foothills are bathed in warm sunshine, leaving rare fossils and dinosaur tracks visible to the naked eye. It doesn’t matter how many times you see the serrated ridgelines, alpine lakes, or otherworldly rock formations; this is a land of constant change, and there’s always more to discover. 

Amid the eastern plains lies the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, a rippling expanse of colored stone. Around 9,000 years ago, Native Americans mined the pink, orange, and red-striped clay, scraping up the pigments to mix into war paint. East of the park, the Picketwire Canyon Trackway takes you further back in time: this quarter-mile stretch of rivershore boasts more than 1,300 perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints. 

As you venture deeper into the mountains, Colorado’s geological treasures only grow in scale and grandeur. At Rattlesnake Canyon, juniper-lined trails carry you through the world’s second-largest collection of natural stone arches. Nearby is Hanging Lake, a pool of crystalline turquoise water hemmed in by blue- and gold-streaked cliffs. 

Now, travel south. Gaze into the heart-stopping depths of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and you’ll understand why this national park rivals the Grand Canyon. Bands of pink pegmatite crystal split the Black Canyon’s dark granite walls, as if a giant had painted them with a glittering brush. 

And that’s just the beginning. Elsewhere, you’ll find vast dune fields, star-sprinked night skies, active geysers, and snow-capped peaks—all open to visitors in every season. Here are some of Colorado’s most surprising natural wonders you can see year-round.

Sponsored by Visit Colorado. Come to Life.