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The 6 Most Unique Colorado Bucketlist Experiences

Updated: Dec 16, 2021


Hannah Unbound walking towards Bishop Castle in Rye Colorado

Without a doubt, Colorado is one of the most beautiful and sought-after travel destinations in the US. But while most people come to this state looking to check out Rocky Mountain National Park, or try their hand at some white water rafting down the Colorado River, some of the most interesting parts of the state aren't mentioned on regular tourism boards. I'm talking about some of the weirdest and unique things that make up this amazing state.

From giant canyon swings to castles in the woods, Colorado has a lot more to offer than national parks and epic mountain hikes (though they aren't bad either). Come explore the unique and fun side of Colorado that I know you'll need to add to your travel bucket list.


 

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Williams Canyon at the Cave of The Winds Adventure Park in Manitou Springs Colorado

Cave of the Winds is a unique adventure park set on the edge of William's Canyon in Manitou Springs, and is home to one of the most thrilling rides in the state, the Terror-dactyl! This insane thrill ride leans you parallel over the 200ft cliff ledge of the canyon, then drops you at 100mph to swing across the canyon! This ride was absolutely terrifying but totally worth the price if you're brave enough to try it out.



As you might be able to tell by the name, the Cave of the Winds is also home to several caves. While I didn't tour in them while I was there, you have the option to take 2 different cave tours and a caving class. Not to mention at this park they also have obstacle courses, zip lines, via ferrata climbing guides, and panning for gold, so you could spend at least half a day enjoying the entire park.


 


 


Gondolas that take passengers to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs Colorado

America's only mountain-top theme park! You heard that right. Taking a gondola up to the top of the Rocky Mountains in Glenwood Springs you'll find an epic amusement park full of thrilling rides off the mountainside, cave tours, and one very good craft IPA made especially for this park.



While as of writing the price stand at $60 a person, it is well worth the experience. They have a large swing that takes you over the ledge of the mountain, the highest roller coaster in the US, a zipline ride, seats that swing you around and over the side of the mountain, and a drop ride that plummets you over 100ft into the Rocky Mountains (probably the scariest ride of them all). Not to mention they have a classic alpine coaster where you control the speed of your cart as you slide down rails across the mountainside (definitely one of my favorites).


King's Row cave at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Colorado

In all of the excitement don't forget to tour one of the amazing caves that started this whole park. You have a choice between the Fairy Caves or King's Row (the most decorated cave in Colorado). If you only have time for one it's suggested you do King's Row, so since I didn't have time for the Fairy Caves, I walked through King's Row and it was totally worth it. The large viewing room at the end is spectacular, and the guide puts on a little light show for you that is really cool.


 


 


Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City Colorado

Almost 1,000ft above the Arkansas River sits the Royal Gorge Bridge, an 880ft long suspension bridge that connects both sides of the Royal Gorge. This feat of human engineering was built in 1929 and still stands today as America's highest bridge.


If this super cool bridge doesn't immediately catch your interest, maybe the surrounding park will. The Royal Gorge Park includes the world's scariest skycoaster! The Royal Rush Skycoaster is another super intimidating thrill ride that lays you down, pulls you up100ft, only to drop you so you swing at 50 mph to 1,200ft above the river below! You feel like you're going to swing right into the gorge itself, you really cannot miss this ride, it is so much fun!

Other things to do in the park include the gondola and zipline that both cross over the gorge. It's suggested that you either take the gondola out and zipline back or walk the bridge back (but the zipline is totally the best way to go). They also recently opened a via ferrata route for anyone who is interested in a climbing expedition along the canyon walls.



Since the park is rather small and you don't need an entire day to finish it, I highly suggest ending your day on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. This super unique train gives you another perspective of the bridge from beneath, inside the Royal Gorge. You can choose from several different train cars to enjoy a meal and some drinks while you soak up the views of the Arkansas River and the canyon walls. You might even get lucky like we did and see a few native wildlife such as bighorn sheep traversing the rocks of the gorge.



 


 


The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado

While on the subject of awesome trains, the Durango Silverton train is supposedly the most beautiful train ride in the country. While I wasn't able to actually take this particular train ride so I can't speak from experience, I can tell you from people who have taken it that it is truly spectacular.



Starting in Durango you can take this train 3.5 hours across the San Juan Mountain range to the quaint mining town of Silverton. In Silverton, you have around 2 hours to enjoy everything the small town has to offer before taking the 3.5 hour trip back to Durango.

The best time of year to go on this epic train ride is during the fall when the aspen leaves start turning golden, just make sure to bring an extra layer, Colorado can get cold at the elevations early in the year.


If you like to backpack, I recommend trying to get a spot for wilderness access. This will allow you to take the train to special spots only accessible by this route. Once dropped off you can hike multiple different trails to some of the most remote and beautiful spots in the state. Just make sure to reserve these spots well in advance, I couldn't get one 1.5 months in advance for August so plan ahead.



 


 


A mountain and waterfall on the Million Dollar Highway in Southwest Colorado

The most scenic drive in the country, the San Juan Skyway, includes the Million Dollar Highway, a breathtaking drive through the Colorado San Juan mountain range, unlike anything you've ever seen in the states.

The San Juan Scenic Byway is a loop drive in the Southwest Region of Colorado that traverses from Durango through Ouray and Telluride, coming back down through Rico and Dolores to come back to Durango. The million Dollar Highway stretch of this is in between the Towns of Durango and Ridgeway just on US Hwy 550.


These roads are so beautiful that even the driver is going to want to be looking around soaking up the unbelievably beautiful San Juan Mountain Range, but that won't be an option. This route can be extremely dangerous with the weather at this altitude changing on a dime, and the hairpin curves and steep cliff ledges whoever is driving will have to be extra vigilant on the road ahead.

But don't worry, there are plenty of pull-offs, so just take your time, go slow and enjoy the towns and views along this route. If you want to learn more about the towns along the Million Dollar Highway you can check out this blog post here.


 


The front of Bishop Castle in Rye Colorado

Probably one of the most unique castles ever made, Bishop Castle was made by one man, Jim Bishop. While it seems almost impossible to believe, Jim decided to make this insane-looking castle after trying to build a small cottage on his land for him and his wife at the age of 25 in 1969. Once he started building he simply never stopped. While people offered to help build it in the beginning, they never ended up going through with their offer so he decided to take on the rest of the project totally alone.

Today, the castle stands open every day of the year, and admission is absolutely free. This is Jim's wish that anyone can come and see his castle no matter your economic status.



Walking toward the castle you have no idea what is going on. There is a dragon's head at the top of the main eve, with metal bars poking out everywhere, turrets made of stone, and large stained glass windows of random colors. Walking into the castle still leaves you without many answers. There is a large main ballroom with multiple staircases leading all throughout the castle. One of which takes you to the tallest part of the castle which, like the rest of the castle, is more than a little sketchy to climb up.

Make sure you watch your step and check for any loose stairs, stabbing metal pieces, or weak boards as this place is practically modge podged together. But while the metal staircases may shake and the windows may be cracked, this castle is one of the most unique and interesting things to possibly see in Colorado.


 


 

Hannah Unbound looking up into a tower of Bishop Castle in Colorado

Now you have an insider's look at all of the crazy unique things to do in Colorado for your next mountain vacation! From one-of-a-kind thrill rides to beautiful train excursions across mountainsides, Colorado is more than just hikes and beer.


Do you have anything to add to this list of crazy Colorado adventures? What other items are on your Colorado bucket list?


If you have any questions about these unique experiences feel free to comment below, contact me directly, or DM me on Instagram!


Until Next Time,

Happy Trails!


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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!