Colorado is a playground for all types of winter sports enthusiasts, but for those who prefer not to brave the snow, winter can feel akin to cabin (or rather, city) fever. Alas, summer! For those looking to chill poolside or score an adrenaline rush via Colorado’s many rapids (and not break the bank doing either), Colorado is a weekend traveler’s paradise.
In addition to being spoiled with endless opportunities for a weekend getaway, the mere proximity of these vacation destinations only sweetens the deal. No matter where you live in the state, in the time it takes to stream a few GOT (Game of Thrones) episodes, you can be in a mountain paradise. The variety of activities comes with a variety of price tags, but don't worry: the Centennial State’s got a weekend trip for every budget. One of our favorite tricks for preparing for summer travel is stashing away cash ahead of time. It may be seem old-school, but believe us, your future self will thank you. If your job allows you to schedule multiple direct deposits, make it a goal to direct a portion of each paycheck to a vacay savings account that’s separate from your general savings. Once you’ve got a decent cushion, read on for some fun ways to treat yo’ self this summer.
Palisade/Grand Junction wine tour on two wheels
Whether you’re in it for the views or the wine, cruising along the Colorado River through the Grand Valley is worth the drive. Several shops offer bike rentals so you can pedal along a route with over 25 wineries. Between stops, the views of Grand Valley and Grand Mesa show off a beautiful desert landscape that’s vastly different from the High Country. For a perfect ending to your bike tour, book a room at The Chateau at Two Rivers Winery which overlooks the Colorado National Monument. Even better? You can pull off a weekend trip for two to the Grand Valley for under $500 (way cheaper than Napa).
Buena Vista Rafting/Hot Springs
Surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Buena Vista is one of the best kept secrets in Colorado (oops…cat’s out of bag). Just a few hours’ drive from anywhere in the Front Range, it’s a great weekend destination for adrenaline junkies and spa aficionados alike. Picturesquely situated along the Arkansas River, Buena Vista’s quaint downtown and River Park are full of shops and restaurants where you can wind down after a day of rafting or relaxing at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs (just 15 minutes away). What’s more, there are over a dozen rafting expedition companies for rafters of all levels. You’ll likely shell out $300-500 for a weekend getaway for two in Buena Vista, but hey—they’ll toss in 360-degree mountain views for free.
Camping in Grand Lake
Lodging accommodations range from scenic campsites to lakeside cottages, but for those who prefer to glimpse the stars from their tent, camping in Grand Lake is hard to beat. Located on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, the wilderness around Grand Lake offers much of the same wildlife found within the park (and with fewer tourist sightings than Estes Park). From the lake, you can hike 3.5 miles to Cascade Falls (be sure to take in the lush wildflowers along the trail), and then return to enjoy a SUP ride on the lake. Several outfitters and marinas offer rentals for everything from the pole to the boat. The largest natural lake in Colorado, Grand Lake can be a relaxing oasis or enjoyable adventure on any budget. In fact, a weekend camping trip for two with recreation rentals can be done on less than $250!