Visiting Southern Colorado
Colorado is a beautiful and diverse state, and there’s no better way to see it than by RV. If you’re looking for some of the most scenic drives in America, then head to southern Colorado. This region offers everything an RV traveler could want: abundant natural scenery, national parks such as Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes, and stunning mountain towns such as Durango or Salida that offer great food and drink options as well as activities for adults and kids alike. Be sure not to miss your chance at seeing this beautiful state from behind the wheel of your very own RV, with your Harvest Hosts membership in hand as well!
Settled as a mining town in 1858, today Cañon City attracts visitors for many other reasons, including its shopping, dining, and sightseeing opportunities. The primary attraction here is the Royal Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in Colorado.
Things to Do
Royal Gorge Route Railroad
Riding the Royal Gorge Railroad is an amazing and unique experience. Visitors love the opportunity to travel through the Rocky Mountains on an epic train ride. Tickets are available for a variety of experiences, including lunch or dinner, or other special events throughout the year.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
Known as “America’s Bridge,” construction for the Royal Gorge Bridge was completed in 1929. Over time, the bridge has withstood fires, strong winds, and the test of time. The Royal Gorge park itself includes a playground and has numerous attractions like the Skycoaster, zip lining, gondolas, and more.
Arkansas River Tours
Visitors seeking an adrenaline rush can go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. There are numerous tours available, including gentle whitewater trips, advanced whitewater rafting trips, fishing expeditions, and other specialty trips.
Four Mile Ranch Golf Club – Cañon City, CO
This seasonal, award-winning golf course is not to be missed. Between the beautiful views and the challenging greens, you’re in for a real treat. The rates are very affordable, and they have a pro shop on-site. This Harvest Hosts location offers one pet-friendly site for RVs under thirty-five feet in length. Don’t forget your clubs!
Colorado Jeep Tours – Cañon City, CO
Buckle up and get ready for one of our more unique Harvest Hosts locations. Owner Will is a Cañon City local with over thirty years of experience in the local tourism business. With Colorado Jeep Tours, you’ll have access to places most other companies don’t have permission to visit thanks to Will’s connections. He ensures visitors the opportunity to learn new things while also seeing amazing sites. This Harvest Hosts location offers two pet-friendly sites for RVs of any size.
The town known as Pueblo today is actually four towns that have been consolidated over time: Pueblo, South Pueblo, Central Pueblo, and Bessemer. The area immediately became a major economic and social hub of Colorado despite being known for lawlessness in the days of the Wild West. Today, Pueblo is still one of the top steel-producing cities in the United States.
Things to Do
Pueblo offers tons of opportunities for outdoor recreation. There are numerous biking and walking trails, while avid fishers can fly fish in the Arkansas River. In addition, Lake Pueblo State Park provides excellent water recreation with its full-service marinas and boat ramps.
The art scene is rich in Pueblo. Here, visitors can enjoy the Buell Children’s Museum, which offers many innovative, hands-on exhibits. In addition, the Creative Corridor is one of twelve state-designated creative districts that’s packed with galleries, museums, street sculptures, live music, and more.
If the name Pueblo sounds familiar, then it may be because of the Pueblo Chile. In addition to Pueblo Chiles, Pueblo grows tons of other produce that is available from farm stands that can be found throughout the area. In addition to fresh produce, there are also numerous breweries, pubs, restaurants, food trucks, and other excellent opportunities for local dining.
Desert Hawk Golf Course – Pueblo West, CO
Get ready to play at one of the top-rated courses in Pueblo. This eighteen-hole course also offers putting and chipping areas for practice. Don’t forget to stop by the nineteenth hole to grab a cold beverage and a bite to eat, including their award-winning Pueblo green chili. This Harvest Hosts location offers four pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Trolley Turner – Pueblo West, CO
Meet Boris the “Trolley Turner.” He handcrafts beautiful wooden pieces, including cheese boards, salad bowls, urns, and more. He also offers wood-turning demonstrations. Here, you’re sure to find an amazing, one-of-a-kind gift. This Harvest Hosts location is big-rig friendly with six pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Durango was organized from September 1880 to April 1881 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as part of their efforts to reach Silverton, Colorado. At this time, the goal was to service the San Juan mining district. The Denver and Rio Grand Railroad and the Rio Grande Southern Railroad were absolutely vital to Durango’s economy and survival. After the Great Depression and aftermath of WWII, the railroad industry suffered. However, the scenic views of the area allowed for tourist train rides. Today, many flock to the area to visit Mesa Verde National Park and other archaeological attractions.
Things to Do
Visit an Archeology Site
The Durango area is rich with archaeological history. There are numerous sites that can be visited to see preserved history right in front of your eyes. These range from ancient homes in scenic mesas at Chimney Rock National Monument to ancient rock shelters that can be viewed at Falls Creek Archeology Site. Chaco Canyon stands as a testament to the village of the Chacoan people that flourished in the area from the 800s until the 1100s. There are also several Aztec ruins throughout the area.
Four Corners National Monument
Visitors from all over have loved the opportunity to stand where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, allowing them to be in four places at once at Four Corners National Monument. Here, visitors can also enjoy Navajo artisan demonstrations and purchase crafts.
San Juan Skyway
Get ready for the ultimate Southern Colorado road trip via the scenic San Juan Skyway. The Skyway is a 235-mile loop that takes visitors through old mining towns, spectacular scenery, and exhilarating twists & turns. The full loop can take up to seven hours to complete, but some choose to just enjoy certain stretches of it to allow for a shorter drive.
Pleasant Journey Alpacas – Hesperus, CO
After raising alpacas for five years near Phoenix, Arizona, owners Glenn and Sue Kacsh made the move to Southern Colorado in 2011. The Kacsh’s now run the largest alpaca ranch in southwestern Colorado. They take pride in both breeding quality alpacas and in producing top-notch alpaca fiber products, as well. Here, they sell yarn, rugs, stuffed animals, and other handmade items. This Harvest Hosts location offers three pet-friendly spaces for RVs up to forty-four feet in length.
Marvel Garage – Marvel, CO
For those that don’t know, a Grange is a non-profit community space with agricultural roots used to host public meetings, gatherings, and more. These spaces are free to use under certain circumstances or may require a rental fee. There are Grange locations all across the United States. The Marvel Grange is used on Monday mornings for Line Dancing, Wednesday afternoons for Clogging, and the first and third Friday of each month for Grange meetings and functions. This Harvest Hosts location offers two pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde was established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and is now the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. This incredible national park features many incredible things to see and do, detailed below.
Things to Do
Cliff Dwelling Tours
Mesa Verde is home to over 600 preserved cliff dwellings that were lived in from around 550 to 1300 CE. Most cliff dwellings can only be visited on a guided tour with a park ranger (aside from the Step House on Wetherill Mesa). The cliff dwellings here are just some of over 5,000 archaeological sites throughout the park.
Balcony House Loop Trail
This popular and easy trail is only 0.4 miles in total length. However, this short trail allows hikers toe opportunity to see some cliff dwellings, take in scenic views, and catch a glimpse of wildflowers in certain seasons.
Soda Canyon Overlook Trail
Soda Canyon Overlook is an easy trail totaling 1.2 miles out-and-back. Here, hikers can catch a nice view of Soda Canyon and can sometimes see Balcony House, depending on how busy the trail is.
Petroglyph Point Trail
This popular and moderate trail is 2.4 miles out-and-back. Here, hikers can enjoy walking on top of a mesa and will also have the opportunity to view some petroglyphs.
Morefield Campground is the only campground inside of the park. They have fifteen RV sites available, all of which have hookups. Campers can also enjoy the on-site camp store that stocks firewood, gas, food, and camping supplies. Each campsite has a picnic table, a gravel tent pad, and fire pit or BBQ grill.
Conquistador Golf Course – Cortez, CO
This golf course offers the best of both worlds, being a hidden gem that’s still rather affordable in price. In addition to the beautiful, scenic course, they also provide lessons by a PGA Professional. This Harvest Hosts location offers four pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Yellow Car Country Wines – Cortez, CO
Yellow Car Country Wine owners Jean and Jim Wooton have lived on three continents, in four countries, and in numerous states. At one point in Germany, they had a friend that owned a vineyard, which is where they discovered their passion for winemaking. The Wootons began making wine in 2016 as a hobby to share amongst friends, and the rest is history. Today, they produce an impressive forty-five wines and mead, as well. This Harvest Hosts location offers three pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length.
San Juan Mountains
Known as the “Switzerland of America,” these mountains are a rugged range within the Rocky Mountains. Many of the peaks here are over 13,000 feet in height, with a few being over 14,000 total feet. The area is mostly remote wilderness and attracts folks that are serious about the outdoors.
Things to Do
The town is mostly known as a winter destination for its prime skiing and snowboarding opportunities. However, there’s plenty to do and see no matter what season you plan to visit. Floating down the San Miguel River through town is a favorite pastime, and there are numerous other opportunities for fly fishing, and other water sports.
This favorite off-roading trail is a ten-mile dirt road that leads to extraordinary views. At the very end of the trail, visitors have reached 13,000 feet of elevation and can see a picturesque view of the San Juan Mountains.
Visitors without a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle, or who aren’t comfortable with the idea of driving on treacherous trails, can take a local Jeep tour. On these trails, a pro will drive you around so you can just enjoy the views and worry less about the trail itself.
Box Canyon Waterfall & Park
This park is home to a stunning 285-foot waterfall, which is the result of the narrowing of Canyon Creek. When this happens, the water spills over the falls at thousands of gallons per minute. To view these gorgeous waterfalls, visitors will simply need to walk on The Falls Trail, a short 500-foot walk into the canyon.
Mancos Brewing Company – Mancos, CO
Despite being a nano brewery, co-owners DeWayne Jackson and Kathy Hands are able to produce a wide variety of beers. At any point in time, they may have up to thirty different brews available, either on tap or in their coolers. With so many dfferent flavors available, there’s sure to be something for everyone here. This Harvest Hosts location offers two pet-friendly spaces for RVs under thirty feet in length.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Great Sand Dunes are the highest mountains of sand found in North America. Here, the entire dune field encompasses thirty square miles, while the tallest dune towers over 750 feet high. The park itself sits at 8200 feet in elevation and offers direct access to several 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks if you’re feeling adventurous. The area became a national monument in 1932 and eventually became a national park between 2000 and 2004.
Things to Do
This national park is unlike any other in the sense that there aren’t any established trails. The entire thirty square mile area is free to be explored by visitors, and, unlike many other national parks, dogs are permitted on-leash as well. There are numerous other dunes of specific interest, and there are some forested trails just outside of the park in Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. There are also dunes-accessible wheelchairs that can be loaned at the visitor center.
Sandboarding and Sand Sledding
These fun recreational activities can be enjoyed on any dune, so ling as you steer clear of the vegetation. Kids and adults alike can hardly resist sliding down the sand dunes with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The park itself does not rent sandsleds or sandboards, but there are nearby retailers that do. Be sure to pick up your gear prior to arriving at the park!
As the rangers say, half of this park is after dark. This means that, in order to truly experience all that Great Sand Dunes has to offer, visitors should plan to stay after the sun goes down. Between the dry air, little light pollution, and high elevation, this area is perfect for viewing thousands of stars. In 2019, the park was certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association.
San Juan Ranch – Alamosa, CO
Owners George and Julie farm organic beef but remain committed to restorative practices that result in soil health, functioning grassland ecosystems, and viable small scale ranching. Stop by to meet them and their hard-working farm dogs, and be sure to purchase some of their products! This Harvest Hosts location offers two pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size. Please take note of the specific instructions and requests this Host has made in their profile.
The Colorado Farm Brewery – Alamosa, CO
Get ready to experience a true farm-to-tap beer. The Cody family farm was one of the largest barley producers in San Luis Valley for CoorsMiller. However, over the years it became less profitable. Eventually they had the idea to produce malt, or fermented barley. They ended up producing some high-quality, craft malt that quickly took off. They eventually branched into producing their own beers, and the rest is history! This Harvest Hosts location offers four pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
If you’re looking for a new way to see the world, southern Colorado’s scenic RV drives are waiting for you. Here, you can find some of America’s most beautiful vistas and adventures around every corner. So what are you waiting for? Let us help you plan your next vacation by booking one of many premier Colorado destinations today! It’s time to go on a journey through southern Colorado and enjoy all that it has to offer.
Have you visited Southern Colorado in your RV yet? What stop sounds like the most fun on our list? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
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