Anywhere that you choose to alight in this stupendous mountain chain stretching 4800km from British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico (more than twice the distance from Helsinki to Rome), and at any time of year, you’ll find countless opportunities for recreation, a vast array of landscapes, wildlife and flora, family-friendly accommodation ranging from condos to campsites, lots of restaurants, and majestic vistas worthy of poetry. Plus – if you so choose – utter silence.

In this life at least, chances are that your family won’t have the time or resources to visit all the Rockies occupying the north-central part of Colorado state. Also, after a 10hr flight, driving another 3–6hrs doesn’t fit most travellers’ definitions of fun. So in the context of feasible family holidays, we focus on the Rocky Mountain National Park itself, and on Estes Park in the Front Range, gateway to the Rockies.

Here, families in search of winter wonderlands can partake of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and snowboarding, then warm back up in front of a roaring fire, a cup of grog or hot chocolate in hand. Between late June and September you can still revel in the great outdoors, this time hiking, fishing in mountain streams and ponds, playing tennis or golf, or hiring a boat. The park is one huge outdoor playground, with 60 mountains rising more than 3500m, glacier lakes, 550km of trails, climbing, wildlife-viewing, camping, and, at every turn, heart-stopping beauty.


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Things to do with kids in Colorado

How much time do you have? In winter, try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowboarding, wildlife-viewing (coyote, elk, bighorn sheep and the occasional mountain lion and bear), ice-fishing, snowmobiling, dog-sledding (feel free to call out “Mush!”), horse-riding or a moonlit sleigh-ride through the Colorado back-country. 

There is no downhill skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park itself: for that you must drive to Eldora, 95km from Estes Park, or to the well-known resorts of Colorado. Among the most family-friendly is Winter Park Resort, the nearest resort to Denver airport. Colorado’s big name, however, is Vail, together with its posh sister resort Beaver Creek. Note that within resorts, lift-tickets vary greatly in price, so it’s worth looking around for the best packages and deals.

In mild weather (typically mid-June–Sept), there’s hiking (on your own or on naturalist-led tours), biking, birding, guided nature walks, horse-riding, fly-fishing, golf, tennis, mountain-tubing, swimming in indoor aquatic centres, and cave tours (Glenwood Springs) – surely enough for several family holidays in one?!

Free shuttles operate within the park. Note that Trail Ridge Road, which runs through the park from Estes Park (eastern entrance) to Grand Lake (south-west), is closed in winter. For orientation and information, head to one of the nine visitor centres (four of them open year-round) – one, the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Ask about ranger-led children’s and family programs year-round. 

Welcoming shops© Colorado Tourism Office

Welcoming shops


Fast food, pub fare, beef (usually of excellent quality and locally raised) and all manner of fresh, healthy and organic alternatives are available – Colorado is, after all, Shangri-La for granola heads. And the best news for family holidays is that, even with the exchange rate, you can dine well without breaking the bank (though scores of sophisticated gustatory adventures await those with the palates, pennies and patient papooses).

Sleigh-ride© Colorado Tourism Office


When to go to Colorado

Colorado is a year-round destination.

Rodeo© Colorado Tourism Office



Accommodation prices run the gamut: those on family holidays in Colorado can opt to rent one of the many 2- or 3-bedroom condos for as little as $200 a night, saving money by self-catering, or stay in an ultra-cushy resort for $400-700 per night.

Destination stats

Flying time10hrs All flight times are based on flights from UK London airports, to the capital or nearest destination airport.

Carbon footprint8.47 CO2 Estimated tonnes of CO2 produced for return flights for a family of four.

TimezoneGMT -7

CurrencyUS Dollar

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South-west Colorado© Colorado Tourism Office

South-west Colorado

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