Last year the National Park Service celebrated its centennial, and American’s flocked to visit these beautiful parks. Each park is rich in history, and they are the perfect place to spend a day exploring. Colorado is home to four national parks, and whether you’re there for the day or a long weekend, they offer visitors diverse scenery and a memorable hike.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Tucked between Estes Park and Grand Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses the beautiful scenery that Colorado is known for. Established in 1914, this national park is known for its high-elevation ecosystems, mile high snowy peaks, boisterous rivers, and elk forests. The 415 square mile park is perfect for hiking and animal watching. The park even has the highest continuous paved road in the US. Trail Ridge Road gives visitors the best view of the Rockies at 12,183 feet on a one-of-a-kind scenic drive.

Mesa Verde National Park

Located in near Cortez in the southwest part of the state, Mesa Verde National Park is home to unique Ancestral Puebloan dwellings which are tucked securely into the cliff walls. Mesa Verde offers tours to gain full access to the cliffs, and the most popular is the hour-long walking tour of Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling that housed multiple living enclaves and buildings.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Home to the tallest stand due at 750 feet, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a 150,000-acre park perfect for hiking and four-wheeling. Stretching roughly 25 miles, the Medano Pass is the perfect place to go four-wheeling. The dunes are also a great place to work on your skiing skills as you cut down the dunes.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Located near Montrose, the 53 mile stretch of the gorge at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is home to millions of years of natural history. Discovered in the 1700s, is known for its scenery. The black walls of the gorge plummet up to 2,700 feet and offer visitors a variety of outdoor activities like wildlife viewing, camping, cross-country skiing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and stargazing.