Hardcore adventure can mean different things to different people. Whether it is trekking through dangerous terrain, biking at breathtaking heights, risking life and limb to climb the unclimbable or perhaps it is simply seeking out the extraordinary when you travel. Colorado is not afraid to test the limits of the solo adventures that dare to chase thrills across its expansive plains and ‘fourteeners’ mountains.
Looking for some hardcore experiences to get your heart pumping? Then look no further than Colorado!
Conquer new heights with Telluride’s Via Ferrata: True adrenaline junkies should head straight to Telluride’s Via Ferrata, a 4.8kms loop trail of steel cables, rungs and ladders fixed to a cliff face. Climbers secure themselves with a harness that has two leashes, linking themselves to the metal fixtures. Not for the faint-hearted, thrill-seekers will find themselves at times suspended on a small iron footholds by a harness at 500 feet. The Telluride Via Ferrata provides unmatched views of Bridal Veil Falls (the highest free-falling waterfall in Colorado), the town of Telluride far below, and the surrounding peaks of the San Juan mountains. Recommended for very experienced adventurers, the trail is best used from May until October. It is highly advised that all hardcore adventurers tackle this trip with an expert tour guide at their side!
ATV biking at Glenwood Springs: This is not your usual tour vehicle. Exploring the area on four wheels is an exhilaratingly different option! Glenwood Adventure Company tours are held on the 5,500-acre Bair Ranch, one of the oldest operating ranches in Colorado. Satisfy your need for speed: with several times and different tracks to pick from you’ve got a reason to explore here more than once. Learn all about the natural history, geology, animal natives and folklore of the Rocky Mountain Region if you can hear over your racing heartbeats! Whether riders pick a single or double ATV vehicle one thing is constant: adventurers are in the driver’s seat.
Hiking the Colorado Trail: Adventurers tackle the Colorado Trail to up the hiking ante and experience a hike like no other. Completing this 500 mile track from Denver to Durango is an admirable feat. Covering eight mountain ranges, five river systems and six national forests, this picturesque journey is only for those with hardcore endurance. Every year the trail becomes even more accessible to backpackers and hikers thanks to the inclusion of new bridges, switchbacks, and markings. For those looking to push themselves to the limit this trail can take four to six weeks to hike in its entirety. But for those looking for a less time-consuming trip, hiking smaller segments is ideal.
Visitors looking to challenge themselves to summit a 14er should include the Clear Creek Trail. This segment of the route begins at Clear Creek on Chaffee County Road 390 and ends at North Cottonwood Creek. The trail climbs out of Clear Creek and enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. The trail then continues into Pine Creek and then Frenchman’s Creek before dropping into North Cottonwood. This segment spends a good portion above 11,000 feet and brings you close to three Fourteeners Mounts Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia. A quick detour could help hikers cross this off the bucket list.
Rock Climb at Black Canyon, Gunnison National Park: Located between Montrose and Gunnison is one of Colorado’s finest multi-pitch adventure climbing destinations, The Black Canyon. Want to know why The Black Canyon is considered taking rock climbing to the extreme? Three words – deep, steep, and narrow! With some of the oldest and most challenging rockfaces in the state this is one awe-inspiring climb. Thankfully, there is a wide selection of climbs covering all skillsets. A bonus is the unique opportunity to descend into the canyon prior to climbing the route grade that suits the climbers’ style.
Explore new hardcore horizons at Fishers Peak: Fishers Peak has the honor of being Colorado’s newest State Park. With 19,200 acres of untouched wilderness this is an extreme adventure for those who love exploring new territory. Home to hundreds of species, only the brave know they have what it takes to get up close and personal with the park’s natives. Be sure to make the most of Fishers Peak’s various hardcore hunting, hiking, and wildlife opportunities.
Visitors to Fishers Peak should take a layover at the nearby town of Trinidad to recover from all that hardcore adventuring. Just north of the New Mexico border and Raton Pass, this historical area was once only a stop on the Santa Fe Trail but has since undergone a huge transformation. To get a feeling for the town’s history and learn more about the Santa Fe Trail, head to the Trinidad History Museum, where you will get a real sense of how the townsfolk once lived.
Stargaze at Black Mesa State Park: While stopping at Trinidad why not make it a two state adventure? Only 2.5 hours away from Trinidad is Oklahoma’s Black Mesa, a hardcore astronomer’s dream come true! Taking its name from the layer of black lava rock that coated the mesa about 30 million years ago, it boasts some of the darkest nighttime skies on publicly accessible land in the country. The dark skies draw committed astronomy enthusiasts to the area every year as they make for ideal star-gazing conditions. The state park is especially popular each August when the annual Perseid meteor shower is visible. It is one of the most viewed meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere and is best seen from remote areas such as the Oklahoma panhandle. The area is home to the Okie-Tex Star Party, a gathering of astronomy buffs who journey to this incredible part of the world every year for a true stargazing blowout.
Jet skiing across Grand Lake: Near Rocky Mountain National Park, perched at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet is Colorado’s largest natural body of water which has become the state’s crown jewel for all things water sports. Travellers looking for a hardcore adventure experience off dry land will be happy to hear that jet skiing here is well worth the hype. The high peaks of the Rocky Mountains act as a backdrop to rocketing through the waves. If you can spare a moment out of the water the countless other outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and off-roading should keep the whole family active and happy.
Jet Boat across Colorado River: Jet Boat Colorado is a great way to experience the wet and wild side of this state. This is Colorado’s only Jet Boat tour that offers New Zealand style river tours for thrill seekers of all ages and groups of all sizes. Base camp is on the Colorado River in De Beque, from there adventurers will ride through the breathtaking scenery of Colorado’s mountains and canyon country. With multiple trips available daily through the summer season there is no reason to miss out.
Daredevil Dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park: Visit the highest mountains of sand in North America, nestled within the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Thanks to the San Luis Valley’s everchanging wind patterns these sifting structures have been shaped over 30 square miles, with the tallest dune towers measuring 750 feet high! But dunes aside there is plenty more on offer, especially for daredevils. Try a scenic but challenging four-wheel drive on Medano Pass, horseback-riding trails, or the many peaks to conquer (such as Crestone Needle, Cleveland Peak and Mount Herard): the adventure options are endless.
For a truly unforgettable experience, camping out on the sand is essential. While adventurers are spoilt for choice thanks to options such as the Pinon Flats Campground and Medano Pass Road sites, for an utterly unique encounter with nature make sure to grab a free backcountry permit. This allows individuals to pitch their tent anywhere in the 30-square-foot dune field. This entails a minimum hike of 1.5 miles over the dunes, but the priceless setting is guaranteed to be worth it.
Ice climbing in Ouray: Climb to new heights all year round at Ouray, Colorado’s ice climbing capital. Twenty-five years ago a brave group of mountaineers dared to scale these frozen ice falls. Nowadays climbing enthusiasts are lucky to have the opportunity to head to the world’s first official ice park, Ouray Ice Park. With more than 200 challenging winter climbing routes, scalers are spoilt for choice. Open mid-December to the beginning of April, the peak time to visit is during January. This is when the Ouray Ice Festival commences. Here sponsors provide gear demonstrates and experienced ice climbers showcase their impressive skills.
Coming soon, the Palisade Plunge: The Colorado mountain biking community are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Palisade Plunge, estimated to be in Spring 2021. The Palisade Plunge Trail will give users an unforgettable experience, providing access to remote public lands while traversing stunning alpine to high desert terrain. It will connect the top elevations of the Grand Mesa to the Town of Palisade, 6000 feet below.