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10 National Park Trails Every Coloradan Must Hike



When it comes to enjoying the outdoors, Coloradans take the cake—whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter, or running, biking, and mountain climbing in the summer, we nature-loving adventure-seekers are always finding ways to stay active amidst the gorgeous Rocky Mountain landscape.

Not surprisingly, Colorado ranks in 4th place for health, exercise rate, and overall wellbeing of all 50 states, according to the 2015 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. And what better way to maintain physical and mental health than by combining heart-rate-boosting hikes with some of the most beautifully preserved views in the nation?

In honor of the National Park Service’s centennial this August, Backpacker magazine has compiled The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes, which features detailed hike profiles, 100 maps, park-specific visiting tips, ranger bios and interviews, and contributions from prominent members of the outdoor community on the importance of our national park system, from the market leaders in outdoor recreation.

We pulled 10 of our favorite National Park treks in and around Colorado, according to Backpacker magazine’s guide. You don’t know the extent of this state’s beauty until you’ve sweated to see it from these views!


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Photo: Shutterstock

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK

1. North Vista Trail to S.O.B Draw
Distance: 12.2 miles
Time required: 1-2 days
Descend into one of the country’s deepest gorges.


Rocky Mountain National Park, Photo: Shutterstock

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

2. Longs Peak via Clark’s Arrow and the Keyhole
Distance: 13 miles
Time required: 1-2 days
This stiff but nontechnical ascent leads to the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park with unrivaled postcard views—and you can beat the crowds on a scrambly sneak route.

3. Sky Pond
Distance: 8.1 miles
Time required: 1 day
Skirt wind-scoured lakes and scramble up the edge of a waterfall to arrive at Sky Pond, where crumbling spires stretch 2,000 feet into the air.

4. Continental Divide Loop
Distance: 54 miles
Time required: 6 days
Tour glacial valleys and navigate to off-trail lakes and waterfalls on this 6-day circuit.


Great Sand Dunes, Photo: Patrick Myers / NPS Photo

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK & PRESERVE

5. Star Dune Loop
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time required: 1-2 days
Ascend North America’s tallest dunes for a day surrounded by alpine peaks, a desert valley, and shifting mountains of sand.

 

And since it’s nearby, venture into Utah territory for a few more outstanding treks:


Arches National Park, Photo: Shutterstock

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

6. Devils Garden
Distance: 7.2 miles
Time required: 1 day
Hike into a red-rock paradise full of wine-and-water sculptures that seem to defy gravity.

7. Delicate Arch
Distance: 3.1 miles
Time required: 2-5 hours
Climb a massive slickrock ribbon and stand beneath one of the park’s most iconic landmarks on this 3.1-mile out-and back.


Canyonlands National Park, Photo: Shutterstock

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK

8. Golden Stairs to Sweet Alice Loop
Distance: 30.7 miles
Time required: 3 days
Outrageous spires and hidden springs highlight this 3-day loop through the park’s challenging Maze District.

9. Syncline Loop
Distance: 7.6
Time required: 1 day
Mystical pinnacles highlight a rare introductory route to Canyonlands’ Maze District.

10. Chesler Park to Salt Creek Canyon
Distance: 49.3 miles
Time required: 5-7 days
Hit up the park’s highlights—slickrock scrambles, mesa-top views, and hoodoo-dotted canyons—on this unreal weeklong trek.

SEE ALSO:
A Definitive Guide to Colorado's National Parks

 

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