Not Your Average Tour Guide: Colorado’s Obscure Attractions

colorful cliffs outside

Look up any tour guide of Colorado, and you will find lavish ski resorts, epic hikes, stunning state parks, plus countless breweries and dispensaries. However, visitors may be interested in learning about Colorado’s lesser-known obscurities and eccentricities. So, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite Colorado obscure attractions for you to visit this Halloween season.

Umi, the 21-foot Statue

Statue of a woman, sunset, Colorado's bizarre attractions
Photo Courtesy of

Where: Hogan Park, Highlands Creek

The Lowdown: Take a trip to Hogan Park, just east of Denver, and meet Umi, the 21-foot-tall sculpture. Completed on August 19th by South African Daniel Popper, the statue of a woman sits with eyes closed, lips parted and hands rested in her lap. She is intertwined with branches, signifying the emergence of a woman and a tree. Inspired by “Gaia,” the goddess who nurtured life, the immersive art installation made a permanent home in Highlands Creek. Popper hopes the sculpture inspires the minds of Coloradans and tourists visiting the park.

Gnome Road/Elf Lane

sign on a tree, Colorado's obscure attractions
Photo Courtesy of Atlas Obscura

Where: Illy Road, Red Feathers Lake

The Lowdown: If you’re going north to Red Feathers Lake, keep your eyes peeled for any signs of mythical creatures, especially gnomes. Known by locals as Gnome Road or Elf Lane, ceramic garden gnomes and fairyland homes rest along a dirt road between Lake Hiawatha and Lake Apache. Explore their home to see fairy doors and white picket fences among the trees and old vintage toys dotting the mythical neighborhood. But be warned, these gnomes are not for the taking. These magical creatures live there to look after children and little animals.

UFO Watchtower

ufo watchtower
The UFO Watchtower. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

Where: CO-17, Center, CO 81125

The lowdown: A list of Colorado’s obscure attractions must include the UFO Watchtower. Located in Center, Colorado, in the heart of the mystical San Luis Valley, the UFO Watchtower was built by Judy Messoline in 2000 in hopes of spotting a UFO. The area is said to hold unique and polarizing energies that draw other life forces to this destination, so much so that there have been numerous reported UFO sightings over the years. Stop by and climb to the top of the 360-degree platform overlooking the San Luis Valley and see if you can spot any extraterrestrial life.

Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast

indiana jones bed and breakfast in colorado
The Indiana Jones Bed & Breakfast. Photo by Jessica Hughes.

Where: 502 Front St, Antonito

The Lowdown: If you’re looking for a stop on the way to New Mexico, rest your eyes for the night at the Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast. Located in the San Luis Valley, in the small town of Antonito, the quirky bed and breakfast sits near the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, which some may recognize from the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Live like a young Indiana Jones and enjoy a cozy night stay and phenomenal meal under a Victorian-style roof

The Black Monarch Hotel

hotel, street, outside, Colorado's obscure attractions
Photo Courtesy of The Black Monarch Hotel

Where: 301 Victor Ave, Victor, CO

The Lowdown: In the center of the mining town turned ghost town of Victor, with around 400 residents, lives one of Colorado’s haunted hotels. Before 1899, The Black Monarch Hotel was a casino and brothel until a fire damaged most of its structure. Post-fire, the building turned into “the finest gentleman’s club this side of Mississippi.” Renovated again in 2018, the modernized boutique hotel now offers unique rooms named after iconic figures like Nikola Tesla — each decorated in spooky imagery and dark decorum. Guests of the hotel have claimed to see spirits wandering the halls and hear what sounds like a party in their room. Some locals have even said to see a woman standing in the window of one of the rooms. 

Paint Mines Interpretive Park

blue and purple cliffs outside
Photo Courtesy of El Paso County

Where: 29950 Paint Mine Rd, Calhan

The Lowdown: East of Colorado Springs, the vibrant geological wonder on our list of Colorado’s obscure attractions, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, is one of the most unique parks in the state. The 750-acre park displays brightly-colored stripes of clay across miles of rock cliffs, hoodoos and spires. The colorful clay used by American Indians for paint remains as evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago. You can explore this unique landscape along the four-mile trail that weaves amongst the colorful landscape. 

Cano’s Castle

cano's castle,
Photo by Jessica Hughes

Where: State St and E 10th Ave, 285th E 10th Ave, Antonito

The Lowdown: When you’ve finished your stay at Indiana Jones Bed and Breakfast, make a quick pitstop at another man-made wonder on our list of Colorado’s obscure attractions, Cano’s Castle. The four structures, made chiefly from beer cans created by Native American artist Cano Espinoza, serve as a “thank you” for surviving the Vietnam War. Three of the four towers are named after chess pieces, including the “king,” “the queen,” and “the rook”.  Each piece is covered in scrap aluminum, hubcaps, bicycle reflectors and more to stand out from the suburban homes surrounding it.

Seven Keys Lodge

hotel, colorful trees, mountains
Photo Courtesy of Seven Keys Lodge

Where: 4900 CO-7, Estes Park

The Lowdown: Speaking of collections, Estes Park is home to the most extensive key collection in the world. With 20,000 keys dating as early as WWI, Seven Keys Lodge (named initially the Baldpate Inn) contains keys from Frankestein’s Castle, Hitler’s bunker and the White House. Who would have thought a small bed and breakfast could unlock doors from all over the world? From Mozart’s wine cellar to robbed banks, each key holds a piece of history. Opened in 1917 by brothers Charles and Gordon Mace and named after the book Seven Keys to Baldpate, the Seven Keys Lodge pays homage to the importance of keys from the novel and welcomes visitors to unlock the past.

The Stanley Hotel

hotel surrounded by trees
Photo Courtesy of The Stanley Hotel

Where: 333 Wonderview Ave, Estes Park

The Lowdown: Estes Park is also home to one of the most notorious hotels in horror history and must be on our list of Colorado’s obscure attractions. In 1909, Freeland Oscar Stanley wanted to open a resort for the upper class and a retreat for tuberculosis sufferers, and thus The Stanley Hotel was born. The picturesque 140-room hotel quickly became the icon of Estes Park following Stephen King’s ghostly stay in room 217, which ultimately inspired his first hardcover bestseller, The Shining.

Cheyenne Mountains Military Bunker

tunnel in mountain
Photo Courtesy of

Where: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs

The Lowdown: From afar, the Cheyenne Mountains look like your typical mountainous landscape, but during the Cold War, this area functioned as a nuclear bunker and at one point the headquarters for NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). Tours are prohibited, as it’s still at ‘full capacity’ but is classified. But you can drive past and see from the road along 115 off I-25.

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