USA & Canada | Destination Guides

13 reasons why history buffs will love this epic Colorado tour

One of the great things about guided touring is it gives you the chance to relax while still exploring a destination deeply – it’s why we think history buffs will love exploring Colorado with us. Kicking off in Denver, our Welcome to Colorado tour explores the best of the West with captivating tales of the Gold Rush, historic Colorado train trips, stunning National Parks, and high scenes of red-rock country. Read on to discover 13 reasons why we think history buffs will love this epic Colorado tour.

TAKE THE TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Live it up at the Hotel Boulderado

We love to squeeze extra history into our Trafalgar Colorado tour, and our special Stays With Stories do just this. For more than 100 years, this famous and luxurious heritage hotel has welcomed guests in Boulder, Colorado. You’ll feel like a star when you check into the landmark hotel, located one block from the city’s hub for dining, arts, shopping and, of course, people watching. We give you the evening free so you can choose to laze about your elegant Victorian-inspired room in a robe or enjoy a cocktail at the downstairs bar, License No. 1. 

Ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad

Step back into a bygone era with this true Colorado gem. The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a real treat for history buffs. Built in 1884, the 4-and-a-half-mile narrow-gauge railroad was an engineering marvel of its time. The Colorado train tours a canyon with horseshoe bends and four bridges. Aboard you’ll pass by remains of silver and gold mines, cross Clear Creek, and enjoy brilliant panoramic views.

Off-road Ice Age tour

Board 4WD jeeps in Aspen and venture into Snowmass Mountain for a thrilling off-road excursion. You’ll small waterfalls and through open meadows overlooking amazing views of the surrounding valley. But best of all, this nature adventure becomes a history tour, with your local expert sharing the stories and geology of the area. When you reach Coney Glade Overlook you’ll hear how they found Ice Age mammal bones, including Saber-toothed Tigers and Wooly Mammoths in the reservoir below. 

TAKE THE TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Settle into the historic Hotel Colorado

The Grande Dame of Glenwood Springs has been brought back to her former glory. Built in 1893 during the mining boom, the historic and iconic Colorado Hotel is one of the trip’s Stay With Stories. Historical figures including Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft and Molly Brown have all stayed here, and soon you will too.

RELATED BLOG: The 9 best cities in the US for family-friendly outdoor fun

Try lasso and horseshoeing

How do we combine history with competition? Sports! You’ll visit the historic Burlingmane Cabin for a typical mountain lunch. While waiting for your hot grilled lunch, try your hand at some classic Western games including horseshoeing, cornholing, and using a lasso. After, sit down to feast with wine and beer, then make the most of the bonfire with s’mores and live music through the afternoon. 

Visit the “Peach and Wine Capital” of Colorado

The pretty town of Palisade is best known as the ‘Peach and Wine Capital of Colorado’. Guests on the Welcome to Colorado tour will stop by Clark Family Orchards for a special Connect with Locals experience. Meet the family and hear about the history of this seven-generation farming family. You’ll take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the orchards before sampling the freshest in-season produce, along with locally made salsas, jams and preserves, pickled veggies, grilling sauces and salad dressings. 

“The peaches at Palisade were fantastic!” says past guest Louise.

TAKE THE TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Colorado National Monument

Sitting atop the Colorado Plateau, the Colorado National Monument is one of the hidden gems in the Western USA. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. Admire the sheer-walled, red rock canyons along winding Rim Rock Drive. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep and soaring eagles as you traverse this dramatic panoramic scene. The curiosity for history buffs is why this reserve is yet to be designated as a National Park, which your local expert will explain.

Ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

On our Welcome to Colorado tour there’s not one but three historic train trips. You’ll pull up in the mining town of Silverton to board the famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Step back in time as the coal-fired, steam-powered train chugs towards Durango. On this Coloarado train you’ll journey along rails originally laid at the end of the 19th century. The wilderness you see is still inaccessible by car!

“Riding the Silverton to Durango train was like stepping back into the old west,” says past guest Jane.

Sleep through history in Durango

After arriving in Durango by steam train, it only feels right to check into a historic hotel. The small city’s landmark hotel is the Strater Hotel, a beautiful building adorned with handcrafted woodwork and home to the largest collection of American Victorian walnut antiques. Within the walls history buffs can geek out over stories of the old west and mining times, then go for a drink in the Wild West-themed saloon.

Admire cliffs homes in Mesa Verde National Park

In UNESCO-listed Mesa Verde National Park you’ll see the ancient cliff homes of the Ancestral Puebloan people. They carved dwellings out of the sandstone of the canyon walls, and several hundred have been preserved. Explore the history of civilizations past as you tour archaeological sites during your visit.

TAKE THE TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Witness the Great Sand Dunes

Picture a ginormous sandbox. That’s the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Here in the middle of Colorado lies an epic sandy desert of 101 square kilometers, with the tallest dune towering 229 meters (750 feet) high. Starting at the excellent Visitor Center, you’ll learn about the history, geography and stories of this unique park, then tour past the giant dunes. Your Travel Director will lead you to the High Dune for a cool photo with the towering sand mountain.

See how the USA preps for the Olympics

Fill yourself with national pride at Olympic City USA, a 1.7-acre patch of land dedicated to Team USA. Around 15,000 athletes come here to train every single year. You’ll visit the modern US Olympic and Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame. A local guide will share the history of the ancient and modern Olympic games as you tour the space, and you’ll learn about the daily lives and regimen of Team USA.

TAKE THE TRIP: Welcome to Colorado

Climb Pikes Peak with a cog railway

Your third and final Colorado train is the historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad. Get ready for an amazing ride to the 4,302 meters (14,000 feet) summit of Pikes Peak! The historic Colorado train opened in 1890 and tours past cascading streams and forests of aspen and pine. History buffs will love learning about the Pikes Peak connection with the patriotic song “America the Beautiful.” 

Those are our 13 reasons why history buffs will love this Colorado trip, which takes in historic hotels, train tours, and splendid nature. Tell us why you’re keen to join this trip in the comments… 

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