For the History Buff: 10 Fascinating Historical Sites of Colorado

The heart of the Rockies

The heart of the Rocky Mountains by the Detroit Photographic Co., 1901.

By Jenna Taylor

We salute you, history buff! Your hyper-focus on the past is admirable, and your passion for all things related to historical events and sites is impressive. In Colorado, there’s no shortage of opportunities to indulge your interests. From ancient cliff dwellings to iconic mines and everything in between, our state is full of fascinating historical sites that are just waiting to be explored. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the most fascinating historical sites in Colorado:

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

1.  Mesa Verde National Park

A visit to Mesa Verde National Park is like taking a step back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in the world. Visitors can explore a variety of well-preserved homes and villages, some of which date back over 700 years.

Cripple Creek at Night

Cripple Creek at Night

2.  Cripple Creek District Museum

For a peek into Colorado’s rich mining history, head to the Cripple Creek District Museum. This museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs related to the state’s gold mining past. (Also See: Cripple Creek, Colorado – World’s Greatest Gold Camp)

3.  Four Mile House

Denver’s Four Mile House is the city’s oldest standing structure and a designated National Historic Landmark. This stagecoach stop was built in 1859 and served as a respite for weary travelers making their way west. Today, the Four Mile House is a museum that tells the story of the early Denver settlement.

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

A grave marker remains at Old Bent’s Fort in Southeastern Colorado. Photo by Dave Alexander, August 2021

4.  Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Sep back in time at Bent’s Old Fort, a reconstructed trading post that was originally built in 1833. This fort served as an important stopping point along the Santa Fe Trail and was a key player in the trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

Capitol building in Denver, Colorado by Carol Highsmith.

Capitol building in Denver, Colorado by Carol Highsmith.

5.  Colorado State Capitol

The iconic gold-domed Colorado State Capitol building is a must-see for any history buff visiting Denver. This historic landmark was completed in 1902 and housed the state legislature, as well as the governor’s office.

6.  Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Pueblo people. These well-preserved dwellings were built in the early 1300s and were inhabited for less than 30 years before being abandoned. Today, visitors can explore the dwellings and learn about the culture and history of the Pueblo people.

7.  Dinosaur Ridge

Dinosaur Ridge is one of the best places in the world to see fossilized dinosaur tracks. This outdoor museum features over 300 documented tracks, as well as a variety of interpretive exhibits.

8.  Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is home to an impressive collection of petrified redwoods, as well as a variety of other fossils. This site is a must-see for any budding paleontologist.

9.  Cheyenne Cañon 

Cheyenne Canyon was once an important hub for trade and transportation. Today, the canyon is a popular recreation area, offering hiking, biking, and picnicking opportunities.

10.  Castlewood Canyon State Park

Castlewood Canyon State Park is a beautiful state park that is rich in history. The park features the ruins of two dams that were built in the late 1800s, as well as a variety of hiking trails.

So, there you have it – 10 of the most fascinating historical sites in Colorado.

Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray by Carol Highsmith.

Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray by Carol Highsmith.

Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to learn more about the state’s rich past, these sites are sure to interest and educate. But how about the trip itself? Here is how you should prepare for your 10-day road trip through Colorado’s historical sites.

Check your vehicle: Before embarking on any road trip, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is in good working order. This is especially true if you’re planning a long trip like this one. Be sure to get your car serviced and check the tires, brakes, and fluid levels. You don’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road! It is unlikely if you opt for a Sprinter Motorhome, that you will experience any serious problems, but it is still something you should keep in mind.

Pack your essentials: Be sure to pack all of the essential items you’ll need for your trip, including a map, a first-aid kit, snacks, and drinks. If you’re traveling with children, be sure to pack games and activities to keep them occupied. And of course, don’t forget your camera!

Plan your route: This road trip will take you through some of Colorado’s most beautiful scenery, so be sure to plan your route accordingly. Take time to research the best scenic drives and attractions along the way. And remember to leave some flexibility in your schedule – you never know when you’ll stumble upon something unexpected and amazing.

Mind the weather forecast: Colorado is known for its unpredictable weather, so be sure to check the forecast before you hit the road. If you’re traveling in the winter, be sure to pack extra blankets and warm clothes. And if you’re traveling in the summer, be sure to pack sunscreen and a hat.

Now that you’re prepared for your road trip, all that’s left to do is hit the open road and start exploring! Enjoy!

©Jenna Taylor, submitted November 2022.

Also See: 

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