The snow has started to melt and the spring rains have finally lifted; that means it time to get off your couch and start exploring your bad-ass backyard. Colorado summers simply can’t be beat. No matter how many summers you have spent in our lovely little square there is always something new to discover. These hidden gems should be on the top of your list of places to see this summer in Colorado. Go here to read part I.

 

Paint Mines Regional Park

Paint Mines - Photo courtesy of David Iwane (Instagram: @Davie8TheBaby)

Paint Mines – Photo courtesy of David Iwane (Instagram: @Davie8TheBaby)

The Paint Mines Regional Park is an ideal spot to watch the sun dip behind the horizon line. Minerals, and various types of sediment create a spectrum of colors; it’s mother’s nature’s layered cake. With over four miles of trails you can also spend a day hiking at the Paint Mines Regional Park. Located just a few miles past Calhan, Colorado you will find this geologists dream. The park is covered in spires and hoodoos, whose rocks formations create an otherworldly feeling as you move along the trails.

Paint Mines Regional Park
29950 Paint Mines Road
Calhan, CO 8080
For more information click here

 

Gem Lake

Gem Lake - Photo courtesy of Garrett King

Gem Lake – Photo courtesy of Garrett King (Instagram: Short_Stache)

Tucked away behind a massive granite outcropping, Gem Lake is quaint hideaway. The lake itself is on the smaller side, but the ascent is not as gentle. Start the hike at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Take the trail headed to the right and immediately start to climb the rocks that have been sculpted by wind and erosion over the last 1.8 billion years. The vistas on this hike are breathtaking and the trail was added National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Gem Lake is home to aspens groves and rare wildflowers, visiting during spring or fall will enhance your trip.

Gem Lake
Estes Park, Colorado
For more information click here

 

Conundrum Hot Springs

Gem Lake - Photo courtesy of Maggie Dickman.(Instagram: @mdickman4153)

Gem Lake – Photo courtesy of Maggie Dickman.(Instagram: @mdickman4153)

I am talking about a little place called Aspen, which holds one of my favorite hidden oases. Conundrum Hot Springs is a trip completely worth the effort. This secluded hot spring is trapped high up a mountain valley that is only accessible during the summer and fall seasons due to snow and avalanche dangers. Arriving at Conundrum Hot Springs is not for the faint of heart. But the full excursion is a back-packers playground. Hike roughly 8.5 miles in and then soak you tired limbs in a natural hot spring with the best view in town. But be warned, clothing is definitely optional.

Conundrum Hot Springs
Aspen, Colorado
For more information click here

 

Mount Zirkel Wilderness

Mt. Zirkel Wilderness - Photo courtesy of Noah Wetzel

Mt. Zirkel Wilderness – Photo courtesy of Noah Wetzel

 

Boasting over 159,000 acres you can completely lose yourself in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area. Roughly 30 minutes north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness encompasses 70 lakes, 15 peaks and over 170 miles of trails. This area straddles the Park Range and the Sierra Madres Range. The tallest peak is Mount Zirkel at 12,180 feet. Spend as much time here as you can, because you won’t even begin to chip away at the vastness and beauty of this area in a day. Head to Gilpin Lake featured above, for one of my favorite hikes in the Zirkel Wilderness.

Mount Zirkel Wilderness
Gilpin Lake
Steamboat, Colorado
For more information click here

 

Rifle Falls

Rifle Falls- Photo courtesy of Dustin Merritt (Instagram: @dmerritt88)

Rifle Falls- Photo courtesy of Dustin Merritt (Instagram: @dmerritt88)

Take advantage of the rain this spring and head to Rifle Falls. The lush vegetation and waterfalls have been amplified by our wet spring season. Feel the spray of the triple cascading waterfalls and camp out for the entire weekend. The Rifle Falls State Park has had some work done. Now offering 13 drive-in campsites and 7 walk-in campsites you can enjoy this peaceful scene in style.

Insider Tip: This place can get crazy during the summer months; visit the falls during the week or in late summer or early fall to avoid the crowds.

Rifle Falls State Park
5775 CO-325, Rifle, CO 81650
For more information click here

Photos curated by Brittany Werges

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