Explore Colorado Monuments, Recreation Areas, Historic Sites

Tourists climb the 32-foot ladder to access Mesa Verde National Park's Balcony House ruin. Photo credit: wanderluster/istock

Colorado has a wealth of national parks, but it is also home to national monuments, recreation areas and historic sites. Here’s a list:

Bent’s Old Fort, La Junta
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur-trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail. Today, living historians re-create the sights, sounds and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events.

Colorado National Monument, Fruita
One of the grand landscapes of the American West is preserved in the Colorado National Monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama.

Curecanti National Recreation Area, Gunnison
A series of three reservoirs along the once wild Gunnison River make up the Curecanti National Recreation Area. They are a destination for water-based recreation and offer opportunities for hiking, boating, camping and bird watching.

Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, Utah & Dinosaur, Colorado
The fantastic remains of dinosaurs are still visible, embedded in the rocks. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. For those who enjoy science, adventure, history or scenery, there is plenty to explore at Dinosaur.

Florissant Fossil Beds, Florissant
Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lie petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide. These petrified stumps and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of prehistoric Colorado.

Hovenweep National Monument, Blanding, Utah & Cortez, Colorado
Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep National Monument includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Eads
In the Sand Creek Massacre, 675 cavalrymen attacked the camps of Chiefs Black Kettle, White Antelope and Left Hand. This site looks back at the chaotic, horrific, tumultuous and bloody events of November 29, 1864.

Yucca House National Monument, Cortez
Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archaeological sites in southwestern Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years.

1 Bent’s Old Fort, La Junta | 719-383-5010, nps.gov/beol

2 Colorado National Monument, Fruita | 970-858-2800, nps.gov/colm

3 Curecanti National Recreation Area, Gunnison | 970-641-2337 x205, nps.gov/cure

4 Dinosaur National Monument, Dinosaur | 435-781-7700, nps.gov/dino

5 Florissant Fossil Beds, Florissant | 719-748-3253, nps.gov/flfo

6 Hovenweep National Monument, Cortez | 970-562-4282 x5, nps.gov/hove

7 Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Eads | 719-438-5916, nps.gov/sand

8 Yucca House National Monument, Cortez | 970-529-4465, nps.gov/yuho