Trails vary greatly, from the 10 kms Ute Trail all on the flat, perfect if you are still adjusting to the altitude to much longer, higher ones. And this really is super elevated territory, peaking at 4,500 metres. When you have adjusted to the altitude and if you are an experienced hiker, you can hit the heights on trails such as the 16 kms Hallett Peak trail or, the mother of them all, and certainly only for experts, the Longs Peak Trail. We like the national park website, which also gives daily details of weather and trail conditions
, and also recommend this Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails website
. The National Geographic Rocky Mountain National Park trail maps would be great to buy before you travel too, just to get you in the mood. Like all national parks in the USA, there are excellent camping facilities if you want to break up your hike en route.
Dawn walks are recommended in Colorado as the light on the mountains is something else. Particularly at the National Monument, where the red sandstone towers ignite one by one as the sun hits them. So many people just drive through the park and stop at lookout points. But really this is a place to get down into the canyons or up onto the plateaus and touch those magnificent, naturally eroded monuments for real. Hikes range from 1 to 20 kms, so there is something for everyone. Start early and you will watch the cactus flowers come out with the sun, the desert bighorn sheep moving their young from one cliff to another, and lizards leaping all around. Find out more here
. Check out Independence Monument which climbers ascend each year on 4 July to put up a US flag, nearly 140 metres from the canyon floor. If you are taking a night in Colorado springs, a sunrise sojourn into the Garden of the Gods, a city park like no other, is also a must.
Ski resorts such as Aspen and Snowmass are famous for their winter activities, but this is hiking heaven in the summer, and no expensive lift passes either, with accommodation also better value when the snows melt. An easy yet exhilarating option is the Rio Grande Trail which connects Aspen with Glenwood Springs, passing through Woody Creek, Basalt and Carbondale along a 42-mile waymarked trail. This is a Nordic skiing track in winter too. Further out of town, but so worth the trip, are the Maroon Bells. Or Belles, as they should be called, because you donít get much more beautiful than these two iconic peaks, jutting above Maroon Lake. You can take an easy hike around the lake or head off on one of many hikes into the hills of the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness Area. Check out the excellent interactive map
of hikes in the Aspen and Snowmass region, otherwise known as Pitkin County. Or head to the US Forest Service office in Aspen for free hiking maps. Aspen also has an excellent, and reasonable guiding service
, with local experts who will cater for your hiking needs and energy levels.