30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Colorado

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Named after the river by the same name, Colorado is among the Mountain States and is located in the southwestern part of the United States of America. It comprises the majority of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the north-eastern section of the Colorado Plateau.

The state shares its border with Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Denver is the most populous city in Colorado as well as the state capital.

Nicknamed the ‘centennial state’ due to its statehood that came after 100 years of signing the United States Declaration of Independence, Colorado is most famous for its diverse landscapes – mountains, plateaus, canyons, forests, rivers, mesas, and desert lands.

Native Americans have inhabited the state of Colorado for over 13,000 years. There is no breakdown of the state except for the Eastern Slope, the Western Slope, and Denver.

However, it is not wrong to say that the state is a pool of treasure troves which may still be unknown to a majority of the human kind. Let us explore some of these hidden gems in Colorado and find out (almost) everything that the beautiful state has to offer us.

1. Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Calhan

Paint Mines Interpretive Park, CalhanSource: Adam Springer / shutterstock
Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Calhan

One look at it and you are certain why Native Americans from 9,000 years ago used clay from here to make exquisite pottery. Centuries may have passed by but the Paint Mines Interpretive Park is still a natural psychedelia.

Strange geological formations formed by wind, water, and erosion which change position, size, and expression with movements in light cover the entire region. A rainbow of colors as far as your eyes can see create an enchanting landscape – orange, purple, white, rust, brown.

The Park is covered under a protected area since the astonishing formations as well as the animal ecosystem within the area are considered extremely fragile. It is for this reason that camping, motorized vehicles, and domesticated animals such as dogs aren’t allowed within the park.

A designated trail is set for visitors and they are encouraged to stick to it and not wander around the sandstone formations.

2. Canyons of the Ancients, Towaoc

Canyons of the Ancients, TowaocSource: Dominic Gentilcore / shutterstock
Canyons Of The Ancients, Towaoc

An outdoor museum, Canyons of the Ancient comprises over 6,000 archaeological sites which makes it home to an unparalleled amount of historic ecological reserves. Though it is a lesser known fact, the area can offer a lot of insight to anyone who is intrigued by Native American cultures.

Reportedly, a lot of rock formations within the museum are from the Ancient Puebloans era, a community which is believed to have left around the 1100s. The diversity of culture and nature within the national monument provides a brilliant opportunity for enthusiasts to observe, experience, and learn about how the various prehistoric communities lived and survived overtime within the nation.

For those of you, who prefer a bit more adrenaline rush, Canyons of the Ancients offer various outdoor activities such as camping, biking, and hiking through the beautifully preserved yet secluded canyons and amazing ruins.

3. Fifty-Two 80’s, Denver

Fifty-Two 80's, DenverSource: Fiftytwo80s: A totally Awesome shop. / Facebook
Fifty-Two 80’s, Denver

Tucked away in the corner of southern Denver, Fifty-Two 80’s is a store full of nostalgia from the 80’s and 90’s pop culture and Saturday morning cartoons. With a collection that is spread over 15 years of clothes, toys, comic books, and other memorabilia, the store commemorates the wonderful era gone by.

While you sort through shelves of Hulk Hogan, Smurfs, Pac-Man, New Kids on the Block, and vintage Pepsi cans, a nearby television set airs a few minutes of Ghostbusters II.

Reportedly, the store has around 4,500 items in their collection which includes but aren’t limited to stuffed toys, action figures, video games and video game cartridges, pinball machines, Halloween masks, posters and cardboard cutouts, and cassette tapes.

4. Swetsville Zoo, Fort Collins

Swetsville Zoo, Fort CollinsSource: Paul L Dineen / Flickr
Swetsville Zoo, Fort Collins

A zoo? What’s so unusual about a zoo, you think? Giraffes, elephants, tigers, monkey, METAL spiders!

Yes, you read it right. Swetsville Zoo at Fort Collins, Colorado, is unlike any other zoo you would have visited. Something that started as a hobby for Bill Swets in 1985 has turned out to be a full-fledged junkyard-come-sculpture garden.

Lions and tigers have been replaced here by dragons and choo-choos made out of scrap, chattering monkeys substituted by worried bots, and you could assemble a dinosaur!

There is also a “Worry Well” – unlike the Wishing Wells where you throw a dime for a wish so it comes true, at the Worry Well you are encouraged to throw away all your worries, negativities, problems, and hurtful thoughts – anything that makes your heart heavy and upset.

Though the zoo has been a beloved spot for the residents, some legal and natural concerns may push it to close soon. So, grab your chance while you still can.

5. Linger Eatuary, Denver

Linger Eatuary, DenverSource: Linger / Facebook
Linger Eatuary, Denver

You may have heard of weird restaurants and eateries, but, we bet that nobody could justify morbid dining as best as Linger Eatuary can, after all, it is built on a funeral home!

For about a century (or more), the site was a famed funeral parlor owned and operated by the Olinger family. To call it an empire rather than a parlor is apter since the family was, at one point in history, responsible for arranging funeral services for half of Denver.

In fact, the mortuary also held the body of Buffalo Bill Cody for a while in 1917 while Colorado and Wyoming argued over who deserves to be the celebrated American hunter and actor’s last home (Colorado won).

That being said, when the new owners gained possession, they immediately embraced the structure’s dark history and turned it into their key to fame.

Now a thriving restaurant, Linger still carries the old neon signage – the “O” has been turned out a bit and “mortuaries” has been turned to Eatuary. If that wasn’t enough, the old air-conditioning units have been modified into hanging lamps, water is served from formaldehyde bottles, and metal conveyor belts are now dining tables.

However, don’t let the interiors (or the exteriors) fool you; the food is highly appetizing.

6. Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker, Colorado Springs

Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker, Colorado SpringsSource: Wikimedia
Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker, Colorado Springs

You may or may not have noticed the bunker from popular movies and sitcoms, but, the Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker is presumably America’s most recognized semi-secret base!

The construction of the bunkers started in 1961, and by 1966, the Nuclear Bunker wasn’t only fully operational but also the headquarters of North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) which controlled the country’s air defence during the Cold War and protected the Western Bloc from being attacked by missiles from the Soviet Union and its allies.

Even though the bunker’s infrastructure prevented it from shelling, ground invasions, EMP blasts, and natural disasters, it could not be protected from the advancements in time and technology.

The five dedicated centers which once protected the whole nation slowly moved to a nearby airbase, and by 2000’s, the bunker only had a maintenance crew which looked after it, in case the country needed a backup location.

You can’t definitely enter the bunker but a closer look from the streets is definitely worth a visit.

7. Rainbow Falls, Manitou Springs

Rainbow Falls, Manitou SpringsSource: ABrowne / shutterstock
Rainbow Falls, Manitou Springs

You may know these Falls as “Graffiti Waterfalls”, and that is not at all inappropriate, for this beautiful, little waterfall at Manitou Springs is always surrounded by creative and thought-provoking “illegal” artwork that is splattered on and around it.

Mostly only known to the locals, the graffiti covering the area is seen by many as a disrespect to the natural surroundings and may have been the primary reason for avoidance by many hikers and visitors, however, every time an attempt is made to clean up the area, new art pops up.

In spite the infamous art surrounding the Rainbow Falls, the area is frequented by photography enthusiasts and those who have made peace with the creative ambiance. In order to prevent further ‘vandalism’, the area has been put under heavy surveillance, but, there is plenty of art to appreciate if you wanted to.

8. Pikes Peak Summit House, Cascade

Pikes Peak Summit House, CascadeSource: Sharkshock / shutterstock
Pikes Peak Summit House, Cascade

Known as El Capitan to Spanish explorers and later renamed Pikes Peak by Zebulon Pike during one of his expeditions in 1806, Pikes Peak is characterized not by its hiking trail, but, by a strange donut shop that sits perched on the mountain – the Pikes Peak Summit House.

A gift center and a restaurant, the Summit House is known for churning out hundreds of magic donuts every day. Apparently, the goodies must be relished at the peak (what could be better than devouring on a couple (or five) of enchanting donuts at 14,115 feet above sea level!) as they could be spoiled in the thicker air below.

While the restaurant’s heightened location adds a distinct flavor to the recipes here, the uncommon fried donut has been using a secret recipe since 1916!

9. Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel, Lakewood

Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel, LakewoodSource: iagoarchangel / Flickr
Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel, Lakewood

Most notable hotels in the southwest décor their properties in an elegant, beige conformity complemented by artistic fixtures that ooze of sophistication and glamour – all the ingredients needed to churn up a fabulous vacation property. However, not Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel.

Befitting to its name, this unusual hotel property in Lakewood, Colorado commemorates the area’s paleontological history and dinosaur discovery. So much so, that the whole structure is decorated with faux bones, replicas, and related items that scream Jurassic Park.

Managed by Greg and Meredith Tally, the property underwent a five-million-dollar makeover in 2013. The hotel is strategically located within proximity to “Dinosaur Ridge”, a site accredited with the first discovery of Stegosaurus skeletons and remnants of an Apatosaurus.

Stanley, the fiber-glass Stegosaurus, welcomes visitors at the hotel entrance, followed by a giant skeleton behind the reception area. Relax in the lobby lounge that resembles an explorer’s private collection with a T-Rex skull and large femurs.

10. Magic Mushroom House, Aspen

For the last several decades, Aspen has been considered among the top winter holiday destination in the United States of America. You may know as the city for its winter skiing and tubing across the snow-clad Rocky Mountains, but, in the 1970s, Aspen was home to some of the most lavish “party” scenes around Colorado.

To join the party in his own style, architect Andre Ulrych, with no previous building experience, set up one of the most unusual ways of tapping into the minds (and pockets) of the visiting riches – he built the Magic Mushroom House. Deriving inspiration from the infamous hallucinogen, Ulrych constructed the property as an ode to his own inner-self as well as the party scene that took over the city at the time.

Tripping on mushrooms (and occasionally LSD), Ulrych took 6 years to build the undeniable exquisite hotel property, which since then, has played host to several notable personalities such as Hugh Hefner and Andy Warhol.

Surrounded by natural caves and figments of nautilus design, Magic Mushroom House is presently owned by Peter and Patty Findlay, and eccentrically mimics the free-spirited character of the era’s counterculture.

11. Indiana Jones Home, Antonito

Indiana Jones Home, AntonitoSource: Indiana Jones Bed & Breakfast / Facebook
Indiana Jones Home, Antonito

Didn’t we all, at some point in time during our childhood, imagined ourselves as Indiana Jones, one of the greatest movie heroes of all times? While you may not get a chance to stumble upon century-old treasures or fight your way out with cons, you definitely get a chance to experience living in Indy’s home at this humble Bed & Breakfast in Antonito, Colorado.

If you have (carefully) watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (the third in the Indiana Jones series), you may remember the B&B as junior Indy’s small, little home. The set may have looked rather grim and unnoticeable on the big screen, today, it is a brighter, quirkier version built into a modest B&B which welcomes visitors to stay at one of the four units, each dedicated to characters and specifics from the namesake movie.

The mailbox outside bears the Jones name to date while a portrait of Sean Connery, Henry Jones, Sr. sits over the fireplace.

12. UFO Watchtower, Crestone

UFO Watchtower, CrestoneSource: Faina Gurevich / shutterstock
UFO Watchtower, Crestone

Every city or region has its own specialty – restaurants, history, culture, public attractions. Crestone in Colorado is no less, only that the town’s specialty is a UFO-themed campground with a UFO Watchtower and not one, but two self-built “energy vortexes.”

Southwestern America has a longstanding history with extra-terrestrial beings, more popularly known as aliens. There is area 51, Roswell, and a whole bunch of galactic activities and then some more.

To honor the area’s history and fascination with the other world and to turn her beliefs into a reality, Judy Messoline, owner of the land which had already seen its fair share of UFOlogists, decided to transform the ground into an extra-terrestrial haven.

If the watchtower and the energy vortexes aren’t enough, there is a gift shop, a healing garden, and a “magic bush”, although it is somewhat unclear what sort of “magic” is on offer here.

For those of you E.T. lovers who wish to take it up a level, Judy is a notary and is authorized to officiate weddings.

13. Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland

Frozen Dead Guy Days, NederlandSource: CL.Baker / Flickr
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland

As the story goes, Trygve Bauge, a Norwegian citizen, brought the corpse of his grandfather, Bredo Morsetel, to San Francisco in 1989, to be kept at a cryonics facility, while he built an exclusive one in Nederland, Colorado. Aud, Trygve’s mother, along with her son believed, that one day, science would find a cure for the body’s fragilities.

Four years and a lot of dedication later, Trygve managed to build such a facility; even though it wasn’t as technologically sound as a cryonics facility should be, it was good enough to have attracted another guest, a Chicago resident who dies of liver failure.

Trygve’s illegal residence in the country led to his deportation and his mother’s eviction, who decided to put the bodies and the facility under the care of Bo Shaffer, the “Ice Man”. Though the Chicago resident was returned to his family, Shaffer continued to manage the facility and Morsetel until heavy winds destroyed the facility in 1995.

Shaffer built a new facility for Grandpa Morsetel, as he is now dearly known, and by 2002, this strange phenomenon had given rise to the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days, that, even after a decade, continues to be a grand celebration.

14. Mount Elbert, Buena Vista

Mount Elbert, Buena VistaSource: SNEHIT / shutterstock
Mount Elbert, Buena Vista

Mount Elbert, at 14,440 feet above sea level, is the highest peak in Colorado, yet it is an easy three-mile hike on its simple route. The location is amazing and the views are stunning, but, be aware of afternoon lightning, thin air, and an occasional group of envious Mount Massive supporters – the second highest peak of Colorado by just 12 feet.

The second highest of its kind in mainland America, Mount Elbert offers a gentle, gradient trail via San Isabel National Forest; filled with pine and aspen trees. However, this simple, picturesque mountain can also be fatally dangerous if you don’t exercise proper caution, for there are more than one problems you could face here.

From July till mid-August, gray clouds with lighting surrounding the summit almost every day. So, if you visit during these months (or any month) and notice anything remotely similar, turn around – you don’t want to be at the highest point in the Rocky’s when lightning strikes!

15. Tiny Town and Railroad, Morrison

Tiny Town And Railroad, MorrisonSource: Tim Joyce / Facebook
Tiny Town And Railroad, Morrison

Formerly known as Turnerville, Tiny Town and Railroad was first constructed in 1921 by George Turner who began creating the miniature village for his daughter’s amusement. Within five years, the miniature town was large enough to be opened to the public, and it continues to attract visitors from all over the country.

However, the town that stands in front of you today isn’t the original architecture built by Turner. Tiny Town, as it was renamed in 1939, with its many homes, two lakes, a grocery store, and a school, faced several natural calamities such as floods and fires.

By 1977, the beautiful little town was almost damaged to a point of no return. However, Lyle Fulkerson, a model train buff, bought the ‘town’ and began restoration. As fate would have it, he was killed in an accident on his visit to Tiny Town.

Ultimately, in 1989, the miniature village was adopted by the Institute of Real Estate Management and was brought back to life.

Till date, Tiny Town and Railroad remains a fascinating attraction with a glimpse of yesteryear’s amusement.

16. Ludlow Massacre Site, Trinidad

Ludlow Massacre Site, TrinidadSource: Grossinger / shutterstock
Ludlow Massacre Site, Trinidad

One of the most infamous sites in Colorado, the Ludlow Massacre Site is a significant stain on the otherwise-beautiful state. Home to one of the deadliest massacres in the history of American labor relations, the site symbolizes the Ludlow Massacre of 1914.

In the summer of 1913, around 8,000 miners working for the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company came together and announced strike on the provisions of poor living and working conditions. As a response, the company tried to drive the union out of town, however, the Union fought back by setting up camp near the mines.

The company hired guardsmen and private thugs to regularly torture and terrorize the miners; it wasn’t until April next year that things took a bloody turn.

On April 20th, some of the hired goons and guardsmen began firing at the campsites. The miners fired back in retaliation. The gun-war continued all day until the camps were torched by the guardsmen after sundown. Not only did it kill 25 miners, but, the fire also claimed lives of two women and eleven children who hid in the underground tunnels and died of asphyxiation.

Today, a ghost town and terrible reminder of the area’s history, the massacre signaled a violent turn in the nation’s labor relations.

17. International Church of Cannabis, Denver

International Church Of Cannabis, DenverSource: Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia
International Church Of Cannabis, Denver

A Lutheran Church in the 1900s, the International Church of Cannabis is a new addition to the list of “secret places nobody may know of but must visit in Colorado”. And, it has every reason to be.

Following a brand-new religion, “Elevationalism”, that has no specific dogma and requires no conversion, the Church is a befitting ode to the city of Denver, also known as and is literally the ‘Mile High City’.

The Church’s prehistoric exterior contrasts highly with the colorful, flamboyant interiors, completed with a “WEED” signage, rows of pew where believers could sit and enjoy a smoke (or two), and a neon-colored ceiling.

Everybody is welcome as long as you respect and adhere to the sacredness that is cannabis.

18. Maroon Bells, Aspen

Maroon Bells, AspenSource: Sean Xu / shutterstock
Maroon Bells, Aspen

North and South Maroon Peak along with their neighbor, Pyramid Peak, is undeniably the most photographed mountains among the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Located within the White River National Forest, these strikingly picturesque mountains are also known by another name – the Deadly Bells.

The surrounding red mudstone layers give the mountains their spectacular maroon hue, a phenomenon that attracts a significant number of tourists every year. However, the remarkable peaks of the Maroon Bells have claimed several lives.

Though not the toughest climb in the world, the rocks are extremely unstable and fragile, and completely out of bounds for novice climbers. In 1965, eight people died climbing the mountains in separate accidents.

Warning signs at the start of the trail specifically warn amateur climbers to stay off of the mountains, no matter how tempting they look.

19. Manitou Incline, Cascade

Manitou Incline, CascadeSource: Arina P Habich / shutterstock
Manitou Incline, Cascade

If you stayed near the Incline, you would never need to step into a gym in your life – we promise!

Manitou Incline in Cascade, Colorado is a one-mile hike – straight up. The almost vertical hike along the old cable car tracks takes you to a 2,000 feet elevation in 40 minutes (of course, this depends on your fitness level).

You don’t need any climbing gears, but, you most definitely need to get your footwear right. And, do carry your bottle of water, but, drink wisely as there are no conveniences or restrooms along the mile-long track.

A false summit at the trail is visible from all over Colorado Springs.

20. Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Red Feather Lakes

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Red Feather LakesSource: Bill Fearn / shutterstock
Great Stupa Of Dharmakaya, Red Feather Lakes

The United States of America may not be so popular on the “Buddhist trail” and may not even be a place where you would look for exquisite Buddhist architecture, but, Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado is home to one of the most striking, and perhaps the tallest symbols of peace – the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

The mountain center was founded by Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa, but, it wasn’t until a year after his death that the construction on the Stupa began. It was to represent global peace as well as the revered master.

It took 13 years to complete building the giant stupa; at 108 feet tall, the structure is supposed to last for 1,000 years.

A large Buddha sits in the center while a spiral made of 13 disks represent the various levels of enlightenment. The interiors, as well as exteriors, are decorated in delicate symbolic flourishes.

Unlike most stupas, Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is open to the public (though only one of three levels).

21. Old Gold Camp Road Tunnels, Colorado Springs

Old Gold Camp Road Tunnels, Colorado SpringsSource: markbyzewski / Flickr
Old Gold Camp Road Tunnels, Colorado Springs

There is rarely an American town which does not have a ghost town/tunnel/light story related to it. So, why should Colorado be any less?

Once upon a time, there were nine tunnels dug into the Bear Creek Park hills of Colorado Springs. But, most of them closed as railroad travel became almost obsolete. Only three of the nine tunnels were left open.

As legends claim, these arched Gold Camp rail tunnels are haunted (surprise, surprise!). Locals say that one of the three remaining tunnels collapsed with a school bus full of kids and the driver, killing them all. Now, apparently, the “little” ghosts roam the (two) remaining tunnels, scratching cars, groping passers-by, and leaving their handprints on the car.

Whether any of it is true is up to your belief or discovery, but, the big black spiked steel fence definitely adds a bit of terror to the whole folklore.

22. 419.99 Mile Marker, Stratton

419.99 Mile Marker, StrattonSource: Marie Apel / Facebook
419.99 Mile Marker, Stratton

Every highway you take has mile markers, plenty and plenty of them, and there is nothing significant about it except that they tell you how far or close you are to your destination. But, in Stratton, Colorado, things are a wee bit different.

Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and since then, “Mile 420” at Interstate 70 became a hot item – so hot, that it became almost impossible to save it from being stolen by the fans and believers of the “420.”

Eventually, the Colorado Department of Transportation got frustrated and decided to do something unusual – they placed a new marker a hundredth of a mile before the actual 420-mile marker and turned it into 419.99 Mile Marker (clever! Who would have thought of that?).

Although the thefts have reduced significantly ever since, the current mile marker has gone “missing” a few times too, including as recently as August 2017.

23. Carousel of Happiness, Nederland

Carousel Of Happiness, NederlandSource: Carousel of Happiness / Facebook
Carousel Of Happiness, Nederland

One man’s undying dedication towards not only spreading happiness but creating happiness, the Carousel is among the prized possessions of Nederland residents.

Colorado-born Scott Harrison, a former U.S. Marine who fought in the Vietnamese War, used a small music box to keep himself sane and calm among the deafening sounds of the violence and death that surrounded him. He dreamt of his home in the mountain city and a carousel.

After he returned home, Harrison couldn’t shake the happy imagery from his head and when an opportunity to buy a bare Looff carousel presented itself in 1986, he leaped at the chance. Thus, began Harrison’s love affair with the Carousel of Happiness.

25 years of wood carving lessons and practice and endless hours of creating animals and figures later, Harrison’s slice of happiness was finally ready for the public in 2010. 35 bright, cheerful creatures bob up and down along with 25 smaller animals who keep company; little fairies appear out of nowhere as the carousel spins.

A joy of happiness for $1, anyone?

24. Movie Manor, Monte Vista

Movie Manor, Monte VistaSource: Best Western Movie Manor / Booking
Movie Manor, Monte Vista

In 1995, the Star Drive-in offered an unremarkable drive-in theatre with a capacity for 300 cars. It was just another drab structure on Highway 60 that no one cared about or bothered stopping by. But, the fate of this drive-in changed almost dramatically in 1964!

George Kelloff, Sr. one of the enterprising owners, realized the setting is the true potential and decided to build a semi-circular 14-room motel with an arrangement which allowed for each room to be facing the big screen. The drive-in remained as is, but, it was now possible to rest a night at the hotel and watch a movie at the comfort of your own room.

The only motor lodge-slash-cinema in the world, “Movie Manor” was an instant success.

Very little has changed about the place since then. You could still rent a room at the hotel and experience whichever movie plays on the vintage screen (movie screenings happen mid-May to September).

25. National Ice Core Lab, Denver

National Ice Core Lab, DenverSource: uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs / Flickr
National Ice Core Lab, Denver

The National Ice Core Laboratory, at the Denver federal Centre, is a scientific storage facility where researchers store large ice sheets as samples which have been brought over from Antarctica and Greenland.

With more than 10 miles of ice cores, the lab contains details on the planet’s history of its climate changes as well as the related past.

The ices samples are securely stored in aluminum-lined cardboard tubes which are kept at an enormous warehouse where the contact temperature is -36°C. Scientists conduct their research on an adjacent research room which is slightly warmer (-24°C).

The lab conducts public tours, but, make sure you layer up!

26. Colorado Gators Reptile Park, Mosca

Colorado Gators Reptile Park, MoscaSource: Larry Porges / shutterstock
Colorado Gators Reptile Park, Mosca

Colorado, as we know, is known for the Rocky Mountains, rivers, canyons, forests, and almost everything nature can offer us. However, a small “reptile” park in Mosca seems to have made the state a popular destination among the U.S. Marine Corps aka “leathernecks”.

In 1987, Erwin and Lynne Young bought 100 baby alligators to balance the overgrowing of fish in the geothermic well located on their property. However, the babies soon grew to into full-fledged adults, and the news about the local farmers’ “pets” traveled fast.

It wasn’t much later that people in and around the town started bringing unwanted reptiles, crocs, and snakes into the farm. And, before the Youngs knew it, the property became the Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

The one-of-a-kind (because there are no gators in Colorado except for here) Reptile park was open to the public in 1990 and now doubles as an education center for wildlife enthusiasts as well as a training center for alligator wrestling!

27. Baldpate Inn Key Collection, Estes Park

Baldpate Inn Key Collection, Estes ParkSource: Nora Lockshin / Wikimedia
Baldpate Inn Key Collection, Estes Park

Inspired somewhat from the 1913 fictional book, The Seven Keys to Baldpate, the Baldpate Inn holds the world record in the largest collection of keys found anywhere.

Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain in Estes Park, Colorado, the Key Collection is home to 20,000 keys – some of which are as old as the World War II.

Among the notable “keys” are that of the Pentagon, the White House Bathroom, Adolf Hitler’s Bunker, and Frankenstein’s castle!

Look closer and you will find keys that lead to strange events – keys from Hollywood actors’ dressing room, keys to robbed banks, and most outlandishly, a Piano Key. Most keys on display here are on a donation from guests at the Baldpate Inn.

You are welcome to leave a donation too.

28. The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg

The Wild Animal Sanctuary, KeenesburgSource: Grossinger / shutterstock
The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg

After drugs and ammunition, exotic animal trade is the world’s third largest illegal business. The U.S. alone is believed to be home to 5,000 captive tigers, which is over 2,000 more than exist in the world today. However, at TWAS in Keenesburg, Colorado, over 450 rescued animals get a second chance at a proper life.

Home to lions, bears, tigers, and other such carnivores, the 720-acre non-profit Sanctuary is the largest of its kind in the world. Since its inception 40 years ago, TWAS has responded to over 1,000 distress calls from animal owners and government agencies around the globe.

Healthcare, proper space, swimming pools, and underground dens are scattered around the property to offer the animals an atmosphere as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Visitors walk around 1.5-mile-long footbridge. Known as “Mile into the Wild”, the bridge was listed as the World’s largest in 2016.

29. ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown House, Denver

'Unsinkable' Molly Brown House, DenverSource: Ken Lund / Flickr
‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown House, Denver

If you have seen the famous 1960’s musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, you would probably relate to Margaret Tobin – a girl from the small town of Hannibal, Missouri, who married J.J. Brown, a wealthy mining businessman, who built her a beautiful house in Denver.

Although slightly rough around the edges, Margaret was a person you’d want to be by your side if hell came crashing down on you.

Margaret has played a significant role at various notable moments in history such as providing aid to families of miners’ who suffered at the Ludlow Massacre, provide medical care and rebuilding assistance to the American Committee for Devastated France (which earned her the prestigious Légion d’Honneur), and many more.

However, her most distinguished role so far was during the sinking of the RMS TITANIC! She was in her private first-class cabin when the Titanic met her unthinkable fate. Margaret helped the ship’s crew load people into the lifeboats before she was forced to board one. She was the one to insist that her lifeboat (No. 6) turn around to look for survivors.

Named “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” posthumously, history may never see someone of her stature and kindness, but, that shouldn’t stop us from paying a visit to her house.

30. Shep the Broomfield Turnpike Dog, Broomfield

Shep The Broomfield Turnpike Dog, BroomfieldSource: Shep the Broomfield Turnpike Dog / Facebook
Shep The Broomfield Turnpike Dog, Broomfield

Maybe not as heart-touching as Hachiko, but, any story that involves a dog has to be somewhat moving.

Somewhere in the year 1950, a stray pup started to frequent the Boulder-Denver Turnpike tollbooth construction area. It didn’t take long for the workers at the site to befriend him. Soon, he was adopted and welcomed into the family. The pup’s new family named him “Shep.”

For several years, Shep lived at the tollbooth by U.S. 36. Travelers on the route petted him and offered him treats, and Shep greeted them cheerfully. Although, just a stray at first, Shep soon became the unofficial mascot of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

When he passed away in 1964, Shep’s remains were buried next to the road that he grew up and lived on. Someone anonymous catered to keeping his grave clean and decorated throughout the year and the holidays. However, due to a construction project in the area, he was exhumed and moved to Zang Spur Park in 2009.

Canines and their humans still visit the final resting place of Shep to date.

30 Amazing Hidden Gems in Colorado:

  • Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Calhan
  • Canyons of the Ancients, Towaoc
  • Fifty-Two 80's, Denver
  • Swetsville Zoo, Fort Collins
  • Linger Eatuary, Denver
  • Cheyenne Mountain Nuclear Bunker, Colorado Springs
  • Rainbow Falls, Manitou Springs
  • Pikes Peak Summit House, Cascade
  • Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel, Lakewood
  • Magic Mushroom House, Aspen
  • Indiana Jones Home, Antonito
  • UFO Watchtower, Crestone
  • Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland
  • Mount Elbert, Buena Vista
  • Tiny Town and Railroad, Morrison
  • Ludlow Massacre Site, Trinidad
  • International Church of Cannabis, Denver
  • Maroon Bells, Aspen
  • Manitou Incline, Cascade
  • Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Red Feather Lakes
  • Old Gold Camp Road Tunnels, Colorado Springs
  • 419.99 Mile Marker, Stratton
  • Carousel of Happiness, Nederland
  • Movie Manor, Monte Vista
  • National Ice Core Lab, Denver
  • Colorado Gators Reptile Park, Mosca
  • Baldpate Inn Key Collection, Estes Park
  • The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg
  • 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown House, Denver
  • Shep the Broomfield Turnpike Dog, Broomfield