There are several things that Colorado is known for—shred-tastic (is that a word?) ski slopes, and some of the best craft beer in the country, to name just two—but there are also countless off-the-beaten-path sites that even natives might not know about.
Here are a few of the quirkiest that you can enjoy if you’re planning a spring break road trip across our beautiful state:
The Cannibal Trail (Lake City)
The crimes of Alfred Packer—namely manslaughter and cannibalism—may have occurred over 100 years ago, but his legend lives on in a series of Colorado attractions dubbed the “Cannibal Trail.”
Situated just a few minutes from the Lake City miniature golf course is the Alfred Packer Massacre Site (CO-149, Lake City) that includes a plaque with the names of Packer’s victims, and a marker indicating the very spot that the crimes occurred. A few miles away is the Hinsdale County Museum (130 Silver Street, Lake City) where most of the Packer memorabilia can be found.
Alfred Packer’s grave is located in Littleton Cemetery (6155 S. Prince Street, Littleton) where his original tombstone is still intact.
UFO Watchtower (Hooper)
Next time you’re headed to or from the San Luis Valley on State Highway 17 north of Alamosa, you may want to look up. That’s because, according to one attraction in Colorado, we may not be alone in the universe.
According to the UFO Watchtower’s campy website, the attraction’s owner was an avid sci-fi fan who, after hearing the valley’s name mentioned as a UFO hotspot often enough, felt it needed a suitable viewing site.
If you want to find out if the truth is really out there (shout out to Mulder and Scully!), make sure you go on a Saturday—the attraction is only open from 10am-4pm until the summer months.
Museum of Colorado Prisons (Cañon City)
Who knew that the history of Colorado prisons was documented so thoroughly?
This lesser known attraction is in Cañon City, next to the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. Home of the original women’s prison, the bungalow now houses several cells, a gas chamber, the original hangman’s noose, confiscated inmate weapons, and historic photographs.
In addition, the museum documents two famous riots that occurred there, as well as the Hollywood movies made about them. If ghost tours are more your thing, they provide those daily as well.
The museum's website boasts that it “serves as a reminder to the public that crime has a consequence.”
Petrified Wood Gas Station (Lamar)
We know what you must be thinking: “A gas station, huh?”
While this particular one might look like a carpentry project gone awry, it’s actually a building made out of fossilized wood from the time when dinosaurs roamed what are now known as Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
The hours aren't posted, but we're thinking that any time is a good time to hop out of the car and snap a pic of yourself in front of a 175-million-year-old gas station.
Bishop Castle (Wetmore)
The result of one man’s dedication to hard, physical labor, Bishop Castle was built over a 40-year time period, and boasts more than 1,000 tons of rock.
It was constructed single-handedly by Jim Bishop, a man known for his combative nature and tendency to drum up controversy. He has fought continuously with Washington bureaucrats who wanted to charge him by the truckload for the rocks he used from the neighboring San Isabel National Forest, and with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce over their refusal to list Bishop Castle as a tourist attraction.
Nevertheless, this attraction—one Bishop hopes to complete before he dies—is quite popular among those who know about it.
Do you know of some other quirky, off-the-beaten-path Colorado attractions? Share your favorites below!