Ready to take an epic trip through Colorado? This 7 day Colorado road trip itinerary is perfect for those looking for awesome adventures and beautiful scenery.
This 7 day Colorado road trip itinerary includes Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Vail, Rifle, Grand Junction, Ouray and Telluride. It includes some of the best hikes in Colorado, including a via ferrata, as well as, gorgeous views and delicious food.
If you are looking to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, check out our other 7 day Colorado road trip, Rocky Mountain National Park to Mesa Verde National Park that includes Frisco, Aspen, Crested Butte, Ouray, Durango, and Mesa Verde.
Table of Contents
7 Day Colorado Road Trip Itinerary
- Day 1: Colorado Springs
- Day 2: Cañon City/ Royal Gorge
- Day 3: Breckenridge
- Day 4: Glenwood Springs
- Day 5: Colorado National Monument
- Day 6: Ouray
- Day 7: Telluride
- Bonus Days: Durango; Canon City; or Aspen
You need at least 5 days in Colorado to really get to see the best things Colorado has to offer. Of course, you could easily spend most of your summer here and never get bored. These 7 day Colorado road trips are epic, but could easily be enjoyed more over 10-14 days.
September is absolutely the best time to visit Colorado. The beginning of the month still has some warm days but by mid-September, the nights get cold which means the aspens in the higher elevations start changing colors.
You could spend a very long time here assuming the weather cooperates. You know the saying in Colorado “If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.” The first time I hiked in Colorado it started off sunny, then hailed really hard for five minutes, then there were thunderstorms for thirty minutes, and by the end of an hour, it was sunny again. It felt like there was always lightning somewhere in the distance (and sometimes closer than comfort) but with all that weather comes incredible nature.
Be sure to have a packable rain jacket!
7 Day Colorado Road Trip Is Perfect For Adventurers
Road tripping through Colorado is full of adventure. The mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes lend themselves to so many options from hiking and kayaking to rock climbing and biking, both on the road and in the mountains.
Between the Rockies and the Colorado River, there is always beauty around you. Hiking is a no brainer since there is a hiking trail in every direction you look. Biking is easy with long road biking trails that go on for miles and plenty of mountain biking options. Kayaking, SUP, and white water rafting options abound. But what draws me back to Colorado is the sport climbing.
When we were in Colorado we were just learning how to lead climb so when we found places with low-level climbs and great views we were in heaven.
Use Skyscanner to get Cheap Flights + Car Rentals
It’s really easy to fly in and out of Denver or Colorado Springs for this road trip. We always get amazing deals on airfare and car rentals by searching Skyscanner.
7 Day Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Money Saving Tip
Doing a 7 day Colorado road trip in a van or RV can save you tons of money by staying in campgrounds or free camping, plus you can cook your own food. Check out these great RV rentals in Denver.
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 1: Colorado Springs
Miles of driving: 0 (unless you fly into Denver then 82 miles)
Best Hikes & Things To Do in Colorado Springs
- Hike Cheyenne Mountain State Park
- Hike the Manitou Incline
- Ride the Cog Train (or hike) up Pikes Peak
- Hike Mount Herman
- Hike or climb at Garden of the Gods
Colorado Springs has so many outdoor options it would be impossible to list them all. In my opinion, though, there is one you must do and that is The Manitou Incline. Yes, it does climb vertically for one mile, but the views and bragging rights are so worth it. While you are there you can explore the town of Manitou Springs or the mining town of Cripple Creek.
If you want more of a challenge, you can hike 13 miles to the top of famous Colorado 14er, Pikes Peak, taking a rest at Barr Camp halfway up to eat or sleep. Or if you need a day of rest, just pay to take the cog train to the top of Pikes Peak.
Make sure you check out Garden of the Gods too (which has hiking and Sandstone climbing). Colorado Springs has all your shopping needs so set aside time to stock up before you hit the mountains.
Where to Stay
If you are looking for a hotel, there are dozens of options. Click here to explore accommodation or use the search box to find the best deals
Where to Camp
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 2: Canon City/Royal Gorge
Miles of driving: 180
We first discovered this part of Colorado when searching out new crags to climb back in 2015. Shelf Road is a popular limestone climbing area just north of Canon City. Just west of Canon is another popular but touristy area called Royal Gorge.
The Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge is fun to visit. Last time we were there we did the zipline across the canyon, which wasn’t too scary, and the sky coaster, which was really intense. Check out this blog for details and 43 other rad things to do near Cañon City.
- Royal Gorge
- Climb at Shelf Road
- Mountain bike
- Drive the one lane Skyline Drive
Where to Stay
You’ll enjoy staying in Breckenridge for 2 nights that way you can make the most of day 3 in the Breckenridge area.
Where to Camp
Camping is in large supply around here. Peak 1 is definitely the best campground for its proximity to downtown Frisco and the free bus system. Peak 1 fills up fast so try to make reservations ahead of time. Other awesome scenic campgrounds include Heaton Bay, Pine Cove, Prospector, Windy Point, and Lowry. None of those have any RV hookups. If you need electricity and sewer hookups head to Tiger Run RV Resort.
If you want to save money there is a nice rest stop at Vail Pass that is only 12 miles east of Frisco on Interstate 70. RVers can easily boondocks here.
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 3: Breckenridge
Miles of driving: 140
On your way in to Breckenridge from Royal Gorge you’ll pass 2 great hikes, Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch. In the town of Breckenridge there are great restaurants such as Crepes A La Carte and The Crown. You might enjoy all the shopping Breckenridge has to offer.
Take the free gondola from town up to Breckenridge Resort where you can hike, mountain biking, or play at the
Fly fishing is popular here and there is also a paved bike trail connecting Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon.
Breckenridge is also an iconic summer destination because of its huge network of mountain biking trails. Click here for guide to the best mountain biking in Breck.
Breckenridge and all of Summit County will blow you away with its beauty and great outdoor adventures. There are so many amazing day hikes be discovered. My top hiking recommendations are:
If you don’t have time for a day hike, try the short easy trail to Rainbow Lake in Frisco.
Check out this blog for a complete list of things to do in the area.
Related: Best Fall Hikes in Breckenridge
The area near Frisco and Dillion Reserve has plenty of shopping and grocery stores so its a good spot to stock up on supplies again before hitting the road again.
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 4: Glenwood Springs
Miles of driving: 100
- Hanging Lakes
- Glenwood Hot Springs
- Glenwood Brewery
- Mountain Bike in Carbondale
Glenwood Springs became one of our favorite destinations because of the unique climbing area, The Puoux, we discovered here but even if you don’t climb, there is a ton of mountain biking and hiking, as well as a great bike path that runs along the Colorado River for 20+ miles.
Our favorite climbing are was the Puoux because it had a lot of easy routes however the other areas of Glenwood Canyon are known to be much better crags. Click here fore beta.
Hanging Lakes is a popular trail, which we had opted out of doing because of the crowds and instead did Grizzly Trails, which runs along a roaring creek in a beautiful setting. It is very long so we chose to just hike it an hour and then turn back. However, I recommend making time to hike Hanging Lakes. From the pictures, it looks amazing!
The Hot Springs pool is popular to do and there is also a large Community Center with a lot of recreational options if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Regardless which activity you choose, you have to go to Glenwood Brewery and try their homemade root beer (their beer is pretty good too) and kids get a free frisbee with their meals.
If you still didn’t get enough hiking, biking, and climbing, then head south thirty minutes to Carbondale. You can also rent bikes from Glenwood Springs and ride to Carbondale and then take the bus back. Or, detour all the way down to Aspen.
Where to stay
Where to Camp
In Glenwood Springs you have the choice between Ami’s Acres or Glenwood Canyon Resort.
On the way from Glenwood Springs to Colorado National Monument you’ll pass through the wine area of Palisades. There is great wine tasting here as well as a lot of produce stands. I love stopping here to stock up on delicious and healthy food.
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 5: Colorado National Monument
Miles of driving: 100
- Canyon Rim Trail
- Alcove Nature Trail
- Devil’s Kitchen Trail
We enjoyed three hikes while here:
If you are like me and don’t like crowds but love nature, this place is a must. It’s a small park compared to RMNP, but there are great trails, a lot of wildlife to see, and a very informative visitor center.
As it’s name describes, the Canyon Rim Trail is a trail around the canyon with some very sheer vertical drops. The path is wide so you don’t have to get close to the edge and there are a few view points with guardrails where you can test your fear of heights (do it…the view is superb).
The short and easy Alcove Nature Trail is very educational. My personal favorite was Devil’s Kitchen Trail.
Make sure you drive the entire Rim Rock drive which means if you are coming from Glenwood Springs you would want to enter the park from the Grand Junction side (and do Devil’s Kitchen hike first).
Where to Stay
There are a ton of options for hotels in Fruita and Grand Junction.
The campground in Colorado National Monument has amazing views. Try to get a site that overlooks the valley and Fruita. There are very few lights up here so if you get a clear night the star gazing is spectacular.
Tip: If you want a campsite get there early since it is first-come-first-serve. However, the campground is located on the Fruita side.
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 6: Ouray
Miles of driving: 50
- Perimeter Trail and Box Canyon Falls
- Scrap cookies at Mouse’s Chocolates & Coffee (get directions)
- Rent a jeep and go off roading
- Ouray Hot Springs
- Go rock climbing at one of the many roadside crags
- Mountain bike in Ridgeway
- Hike Ice Lakes near Silverton
- Bonus: Via Ferrate in Telluride
Ouray is nicknamed the Switzerland of America for good reason. It’s a small town tucked in the valley of high peaks that are covered in snow half the year and have thousand foot waterfalls flowing off them the other half of the year.
From rock climbing and hiking, to renting jeeps and going off-roading, Ouray has a lot to offer.
There are dozens dirt roads from Ouray making it a very popular off roading destination. Two of the most popular routes are Imogene Pass and Yankee Boy Basin. I highly recommend enjoying Ouray’s 4×4 by renting a jeep and heading into the mountains. These trails take you into some of the most beautiful areas in all of Colorado. Click here to find Jeep rentals and tours.
Be sure to hike the 5 mile Perimeter Trail that surrounds Ouray and passes by beautiful Box Canyon Falls.
We loved the brewery and bakery here and the fact that we could walk to them from our campground in town. The scrap cookies at the bakery, Mouse’s, are addicting, you have been warned.
If you get too cold you can warm up in the Hot Springs pool. I loved that the pools had different temperatures ranging from 70-120 degrees.
Ouray is filled with every type of climbing you could imagine. This mountain town is a world famous ice climbing destination with of its groomed ice park and annual Ice Climbing Festival. In the summer Ouray still has plenty to offer from sport to trad climbing. Click here for more beta or click here to find a climbing guide.
If you love mountain biking, make sure you check out the secluded singletrack trails at Ridgway Trail System (RAT) just 30 minutes north of Ouray. Click here for a trail map.
Ouray is on of our favorite road trip destinations in Colorado because of the campground that’s only a 10 minute walk from downtown Ouray.
Related blog: Things To Do In Ouray
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for accommodation instead of camping, click here and explore accommodation or check out a top pick, The Matterhorn Inn.
Where to Camp
There are a lot of camping options near Ouray including great free camping. For paid campgrounds check out 4J + 1 +1, Ouray Riverside Resort, Amphitheater Campground, KOA, Ridgeway State Park, or Basecamp 550.
If you have time to add in driving the Million Dollar Highway or to take a side trip over to Telluride, you won’t be disappointed. The views on the drive up to Silverton are jaw dropping and the hike to Ice Lakes is one of the best hikes in all of Colorado. We absolutely loved the Via Ferrata in Telluride as well as mountain biking the resort.
Related blog: 7 Things To Do in Telluride
Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Day 7: Durango, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Crested Butte, Aspen, Shelf Road
Depending on if you are trying to make a loop or driving across Colorado to another destination will determine your last day of fun.
Miles of driving: depends
- Whitewater rafting near Salida Black Canyon of the Gunnison (iconic climbing destination)
- Hiking the 403 trail in Crested Butte
- MTB the famous 401 trail
- Drive Kebler Pass (May – Oct only)
- Camping (and rock climbing) at Shelf Road BLM
- Backpacking the Four Pass Loop in Maroon Bells, Aspen
- Burgers and fresh produce at James Ranch Harvest Grill
There are so many options to do on the way back to Colorado Springs.
My first recommendation is to stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The canyon is beautiful and you can drive through the lookouts in just a few hours. I loved their campground.
We loved Crested Butte in October. There were so many adventures to do and the free camping was epic.
There are numerous rafting opportunities near Salida and then you can continue on Highway 50 to Canon City and Shelf Road.
You can also detour north and explore Aspen’s Maroon Bells or head south and explore Durango and Great Sand Dunes National Park.
If you venture towards Durango make sure you stop at the small farm on the side of the road, James Ranch Harvest Grill, right before Durango. They have the best grass fed burgers and sell delicious specialty foods and products from their farm.
On your way to Colorado Springs I highly recommend stopping to climb at Shelf Road. There are many easy routes and the remoteness of the area makes it absolutely stunning. Even if you don’t climb, there are trails to hike and the BLM campground is very cheap. There are no services here other than a pit toilet so be prepared. The campground is small and can get quite busy on the weekend.
Related blog: Rock Climbing For Fun in Colorado
7 Day Colorado Road Trip Wrap Up
Colorado is one of the very best states to road trip in, it has a little bit of everything: Forest, mountains, desert, canyons. The hardest part about a road trip is having enough time to see all these great destinations. You could easily spend all year here (well, maybe leave for the mud season)! And if you decide to do it in an RV like we do, check out these great RV rentals in Denver.
Road Trip Planning Resources
- What to pack for a road trip
- Tips for your first road trip
- Road trip on a budget
- How to have a successful road trip
- Ice Lakes Hike
- Driving the Million Dollar Highway
- Skiing Keystone Resort
- Skiing Breckenridge Resort
- Things to do in Summit Co in Winter
- Best Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Best Mountain Biking Trails in Breckenridge
- Best Fall Hikes in Breckenridge
- Getting Around Breckenridge: How to Use the Free Bus System
- 24 Fun Things to do in Silverthorne, Colorado
- Backpacking Aspen’s Maroon Bells
- Things to do Telluride
- Things to do Crested Butte
- 8 Reasons to Visit Ouray
- 3 Awesome Beginner Climbing Destinations in Colorado
- Hiking 14er, Gray’s Peak
If you have any questions about a road trip itinerary for Colorado, let us know in the comments below!