Colorado Field Guide | By Heather Mundt

Most visitors to Colorado already understand the state’s many highlights, from world-famous mountain towns to four national parks and renowned microbreweries. But what if a traveler desires something a little off the well-trodden path, say, an eastern-plains road trip or a “voluntourism” vacation? Just test out the Colorado Tourism Office’s new Colorado Field Guide trip-planning tool kit.

“The Colorado Field Guide brings fresh exploratory ideas and opportunities to visitors with new look-and-feel planning tools, and more inspiration from all corners of the state,” says Carly Holbrook, PR spokeswoman for the Colorado Tourism Office. “This collection of curated itineraries is unique in that it points travelers to places to go, eat and sleep along less-explored paths throughout the state while providing insider travel tips on the best ways to enjoy them, as well as ways to volunteer and give back along the way.”

Established in 2017, the guide’s “Pick Your Getaway” allows visitors to filter options by trip length, region, city, season or activity. And a new 2018 makeover makes planning even easier for visitors, from pairing dining and lodging choices with selected activities, to searching for family-friendly attractions. There are also insider tips that help users feel they’re getting the secret word on a destination.

Prefer a ready-made itinerary instead? Choose from a variety of pre-planned ones, such as a three-day “Farm and Winery Tour of Paonia and Hotchkiss,” or a seven-day “Park County Meets Summit County” option.

Here are some other unique ways to tour the Centennial State using the Colorado Field Guide:

Be a Tourist in Your Hometown. Locals already know Denver’s main attractions, from Coors Field to the Downtown Aquarium or the Denver Zoo. So why not act like a tourist, opting for the “Explore Denver’s Creative Side” itinerary? This three-day guide includes visiting galleries in the Art District on Santa Fe, eating lunch at the gourmet-food emporium, Denver Central Market, and strolling the colorful murals and creative businesses of Downtown Denver RiNo (River North). Even better, experience it all via Denver B-cycle, the Mile High City’s shared-bicycle system.

Pick a Sustainability Activity. Whenever possible, a local non-profit partner is featured as part of the activity guide, and it’s often an organization that offers volunteering. For instance, on the “Lamar to La Junta: Santa Fe Trail Itinerary,” visitors can find out about volunteering for Outdoor Colorado’s Voluntourism & Trail Construction at Picketwire Canyon. Or the “Highway of Legends: Trinidad and Pueblo” option allows visitors to find out about volunteering at the Pueblo Zoo.

See old places a new way. Many Coloradans have skied Breckenridge in the winter. But what about visitors who don’t ski? Try the “Non-Skiers’ Guide to Breckenridge,” suggesting activities like a visit to the town’s welcome center and museum or the Mountain Top Children’s Museum. Explore your wild side with a thrilling ride in a sled pulled by snow-loving dogs at Good Times Adventures, which features a 6-mile tour along the gorgeous winding trails of the Swan River Valley.

Visit lesser-known areas. As a native whose family hails from this agricultural region, even I didn’t realize how much there would be to experience on the Guide’s itinerary called “Peaceful Eastern Plains,” which explores Sterling and Logan Counties. I had no idea, for example, that Sterling boasts one of a growing number of microbreweries popping up east of I-25, like Parts and Labor, named in Food & Wine Magazine as one of the top 25 breweries in the state.

Photo by Alex Deems.

Heather Mundt is a freelance writer/editor from Longmont who specializes in writing about family travel. You can read more about her adventures with her husband and two sons on her site, www.momfari.com.
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