Ultimate Vanlife Weekend in Colorado - Native Campervans
Ultimate Vanlife Weekend in Colorado
Before you read this, I want you to close your eyes and breathe in… now breathe out… let the stress melt away as you get started on your four-day, 3-night tour through Colorado. Since time is limited, this itinerary is action-packed. We’re going to hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, visit some of the famed ski towns, spend some time at Steamboat Hot Springs, and end our trip at the beautiful Garden of the Gods. If this is your first trip to Colorado prepare to be in awe of the sweeping mountain scenery and gorgeous alpine lakes. Colorado is the best place to experience vanlife for a weekend and we’ve got it all planned out for you so all you have to worry about is having a good time.
DAY 1: Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park
Travel Time: 1hr 30 min Distance: 66 miles
It’s the first day of your vanlife Colorado weekend! The first stop on your vacation is the stunning Rocky Mountain National Park. RMNP features spectacular views of the alpine tundra and the Continental Divide. The landscape is dotted with alpine lakes and forested valleys. RMNP has a lot to offer its visitors from hiking, scenic drives, and wildlife watching and photography opportunities to fishing and horseback riding. In our opinion, RMNP is one of the most beautiful places in the world!
For hiking enthusiasts looking to hit the ground running, we recommend the Bluebird Lake hike. This hike features views of Longs Peak and is 6 miles round trip with a 2,478 ft elevation gain. The trailhead is located at the southeastern corner of RMNP. The hike culminates in a picturesque view of Bluebird Lake. Bluebird Lake is surrounded on all sides by towering mountain peaks. These peaks are known as the Ouzel peak, Mt Copeland, and Mahana Peak. It truly will take your breath away!
If you want a calmer morning…
If you’re looking for a slower start to your vacation, take a scenic drive along Trail Ridge Road or Old Fall River Road. Trail Ridge Road is a 48-mile drive between Estes Park and Grand Lake. It features sweeping views of the Rockies all around. Trail Ridge Road is also one of ten of America’s Byways. So, if you are a byway enthusiast, you’ll want to take a drive down this road. Trail Ridge Road is also the highest paved road in the US!
The Old Fall River Road is an 11-mile-long road through the park’s high country. This road is slow-going because of its narrow roads and switchbacks. It was the first auto route in RMNP. Take a journey back in time as you take a gander at the alpine wilderness around you.
For our horse lovers out there, book a ride with Glacier Creek Stables. Glacier Creek is the only stable located inside RMNP. Horseback is a new and exciting way to explore all the RMNP has to offer!
Whichever adventure you choose, you’ll be ready to kick back and relax at your campground with some warm food and ice-cold beer.
DAY 2: Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Lake
Travel Time: 16 min Distance: 8 miles
Day two of your Colorado vanlife weekend is here. Shake the sleep from your body and let’s get rolling. We’re off to enjoy the morning sunshine at Grand Lake! Grand Lake is located one mile from RMNP’s western entrance. The town of Grand Lake is 100% pedestrian friendly! Park your car and take a walk around town. The town is a picturesque mountain town surrounded on all sides by the Rocky Mountains.
Head over to the Wake Coffee Shop, situated right on the edge of Grand Lake and grab a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Wake Coffee features a stellar deck that you can sit on and take in the view.
Once you’ve finished your latte, head over to the Grand Lake Marina. It’s a short walk because the Marina is located on the same dock as Wake Coffee. You can rent a paddleboard or kayak and head out on the lake. If you’re lucky you might see a moose taking a morning bath.
Once you’ve returned your paddle rental, head back to the van. We’re hitting the road for Steamboat Springs!
Day 2 continued: Grand Lake to Steamboat Springs
Travel Time: 1hr 45 min Distance: 94 miles
You may have heard of Steamboat Springs before. It is known as “The Boat” & “Ski Town, USA” after all. If you’re visiting in the winter, you need to hit the slopes and experience some of that famed champagne powder for yourself.
If you’re visiting in the summer, there are still a ton of great activities you can do! We recommend a ride on the Steamboat Gondola. You’ll experience sweeping views of Steamboat Springs and the Rocky Mountains.
If you brought your bike, the gondola allows you to transport your bike up to the upper bike trails. If you aren’t into mountain biking, don’t worry! You can still do a short hike on Vista Nature Trail. Vista Nature Trail is accessible via gondola ride. Both hikers and bikers should end their mountain day at the Oasis Sundeck for some food and drinks (and views).
After a fun day on the mountain, stop for a soak at Strawberry Hot Springs. Strawberry Hot Springs is a natural geothermal mineral water spring. It’s perfect for relaxing after a long day! We have to rest those tired muscles because we’ve still got some action-packed days ahead of us!
When you’re ready, head back to the van. Pick up a growler at Mountain Tap Brewery (we hear the mountain macaroon is a winner) and head to your camp spot for the night. We’re hitting Breck tomorrow!
We recommend booking a camp spot at Steamboat Lake. The campground is situated on Steamboat Lake (literally) and offers great views of the Rockies in the distance. The campground has many amenities including drinking water, toilets, showers, and WIFI.
DAY 3: Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge
Travel Time: 2hrs Distance: 103 miles
Alright, folks, put your mining hat on – we’re going to dig for some gold today! Just kidding, we’re headed to Breckenridge. This former mining town is situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains. You know what that means: world-class skiing and hiking! During the winter months, it is an absolute must to spend the day shredding at the Breck ski resort. In the summer months, the mountain offers a screamin’ good time with the Gold Runner Coaster, Alpine Slides, and Alpineer Challenge Course.
If you’re looking to get out on the mountain and explore, we recommend taking the chair lift up to the Horseshoe Bowl Hiking loop. This hike is an easy 3.1 miles and offers breathtaking valley views. Bike lovers can rent mountain bikes from the resort or take their own up one of the many chair lifts and hit the trails.
Let’s keep our mountain + beer tour going with a stop at Breckenridge Brewery for some lunch. Split a pizza with your travel partners and get a tasting flight. Why not try them all! After you’re sufficiently refreshed from your Breck mountain adventure, head back to the van. We’re off to Colorado Springs!
Day 3 continued: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs
Travel Time: 2hr 10 min Distance: 106 miles
Day three of your vanlife weekend and we’re headed to Colorado Springs offers a little bit of a different landscape than what we’ve seen already. Where we’re about to visit is home to the Garden of Gods and Pikes Peak, both feature beautiful red rock formations unlike anything else you’ve seen before.
If you want to get high (not THAT kind of high) head over to Pikes Peak. You can spend the afternoon on a zipline adventure hosted by Broadmoor Outfitters. If you’re looking to stay a little closer to earth, Broadmoor offers stand-up paddleboarding adventures, falconry activities, axe throwing, and guided hikes. These are all unique to the Pikes Peak area and are a great way to spend your last afternoon on vacation.
We’ve got some special Garden of the God’s adventures in store tomorrow. Head back to your campsite for the evening and cook up some grub. You’ll probably get to see a spectacular sundowner from your camp chair.
Day 4: Colorado Springs to Denver
Travel Time: 1hr 25 min Distance: 71 miles
Good morning adventure friends! We’ve got one last, special spot in store for you before heading back to Denver. We’re going to do a hike on one of the many trails in the Garden of the Gods Park. We recommend the Palmer, Buckskin-Charlie, Niobrara, and Bretag Trail Loop. This hike is a four-mile loop that takes you around awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping rock formations that make up the Garden of the Gods Park.
Once you’re finished admiring these insane rock formations, head back to the van and make your way back to our HQ in Denver. Whether this is your first time in Colorado, or you call CO home, we hope you enjoyed this jam-packed, three-day tour through our home state. What can we say, we love CO and there is truly no place like home.
We hope you had an amazing Colorado vanlife weekend and you got to see how amazing this state is. Tag us in your vacation pics on Instagram (our handle is @nativecampervans) or use our hashtag #vanlife. We can’t wait to see what you get up to! Make sure to take a look at our selection if you’re looking for a Denver Campervan Rental.