Updated: 6/20/2017

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Backpacking

There’s no better way to explore Colorado’s wild backcountry than under the wing of a trained guide who not only knows the ins and outs of trails, but can also give you insight on the area’s history — and feed you after a long day of high-altitude mountaineering. Meals and equipment are usually included in the cost of the excursion, and trips can be customized to your ability or to help you reach a personal goal.

Colorado Trail Backpacking by San Juan Mountain Guides
Level: Experienced hikers in excellent physical shape (Can you carry a 35-pound pack for up to 7 miles per day?)
Duration: Three to nine days
Included: Guides/trip leaders, all dinner and breakfast meals and group camping and cooking equipment
The Trip: Explore the last 94 miles of the Colorado Trail, which spans 500 miles from Denver to Durango (Segments 24 to 28); the number of trail segments you cover depends on how many days you choose to hike. Highlights include the vast Weminuche Wilderness, the jaw-dropping amphitheater below Blackhawk Pass, the lush and remote Cascade Creek drainage and the rugged La Plata Mountains.
Learn more about hiking the Colorado Trail.

Trekking through Aspen trees near Telluride
Trekking through Aspen trees near Telluride

Rocky Mountain Backpacking — North Inlet by REI Adventures
Level: Moderate Plus (Participants must be able to carry backpacks weighing 35 to 40 pounds for 5 to 8 miles daily.)
Duration: Four days
Included: Professional instruction and guiding, all meals as noted in the itinerary, snacks, group cooking gear, group first-aid kit, water filter, transportation from host hotel to store meeting place (upon request), transportation from host hotel to trailheads and campsite and permit fees
The Trip: Start on the western border of Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Grand Lake and hop on the Continental Divide Trail. You’ll intersect flower and wildlife-freckled meadows, tumbling waterfalls and clear alpine lakes — all surrounded by a sea of peaks and the comfort of a seasoned guide, who fill you in on little-known secrets about the area.

Multi-Day Rafting Trips in Colorado

If the typical half-day rafting trip doesn’t leave you with enough time on the water, spend multiple days riding Colorado’s rivers with the pros. From slow floats to Class V white water levels, rafting guides coordinate trips for all types of paddlers and provide perks like freshly prepared meals and campfires. 

Colorado River — Little Gore Canyon by Dvorak Expeditions
Level: Intermediate
Duration: Four days
Included: All boating equipment, life jackets, drinking water, pre- and post-trip arrangements, four to five days of rafting, optional instructional seminar, rain jacket with pants (upon request), waterproof dry bags/containers for personal gear and six-man rain tarps for shelter and kitchen area
The Trip: Dvorak Expeditions hosts a variety of fishing and whitewater rafting excursions. This trip takes crews for 23 to 65 miles among Class II rapids (Class III during high water levels) on the Colorado River. Alpine scenery, historic points and milder whitewaters make the Colorado River — Little Gore Canyon expedition ideal for families.

Arkansas River Multi-Day Rafting Trips by Echo Canyon River Expeditions
Level: Varies
Duration: Two to four days
Included: All meals, sleeping bags and pads, camp pillow, double-occupancy tents and full wetsuit package
The Trip: Choose from a variety of trips, from family to adventure-class outings; expeditions are tailored to match groups' needs. After an exciting day on the rapids, you’ll enjoy a freshly prepared meal, an evening campfire and riverside sleeping arrangements. 

Yampa River Rafting by O.A.R.S.
Level: Moderate
Duration: Four days
Included: Rafting, meals and campsite
The Trip: In addition to rafting among Class III rapids through majestic Dinosaur National Monument, guides take adventurers on multiple hikes and offer insight into the area’s rich geologic and native history.

Upper Animas Whitewater Adventure by Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Trails Tours
Level: Extreme
Duration: Three days
Included: Rafting, meals and campsite
The Trip: Spend two days challenging Class I, III, IV and V rapids in the Upper Animas River Canyon between Durango and Silverton, and one day fishing, hiking or relaxing in the Weminuche Wilderness. Other highlights include cruising the Million Dollar Highway via shuttle to Silverton, access to an established campsite and hearty meals.

Ultimate Pass Vacation Package by Royal Gorge Rafting
Level: Thrill seekers
Duration: One day
Included: Half-day rafting trip, zipline tour, Segway racing, helicopter tour, Sky Coaster at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park and lunch at White Water Bar & Grill
The Trip: This one-day activities package will get your adrenaline pumping and introduce you to the breathtaking beauty of the Cañon City area. Conquer rapids on the Arkansas River below the Royal Gorge, the iconic 1,200-foot canyon; and view the landscape from new heights on helicopter and ziplining excursions.

View complete listings for Colorado rafting guides.

Rock Climbing

Colorado has hundreds of rewarding rock climbs. Multi-day trips offer an introduction to the vertical world for beginners and excursions customized to your skill level (be honest!). Gear is usually included, and guides/instructors help you build a solid foundation of skills to become capable rock climber.

Two-Day Climb and Camp by Paragon Guides
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Duration: Two days
Included: Professional guide/personal instruction, lodging pickup and drop off, climbing gear (harness, helmet, rope and belay device), camping gear, dinner and breakfast
The Trip: Reconnect with family members or friends while you refine or acquire new rock-climbing skills and immerse yourselves in the Vail-area backcountry. Understand how protection systems work, learn the dynamics of rope handling and develop a sense for moving comfortably on the rocks. Top-roped climbing for beginners and lead-climbing instruction is also available. 

Colorado Rock Climbing by Apex Mountain School
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Duration: One day
Included: Equipment and private guide
The Trip: Whether you’re first-timer or an experienced climber, Apex Mountain School has full-day programs for every age, ability and fitness level. Select a climbing area in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Boulder’s Flatirons, or select a course that focuses on skills like multi-pitch climbing or rappelling. 

Find more rock climbing guides in Colorado.

Colorado Bike Tours 

If you prefer to embark on two-wheeled adventures, Colorado bike tour guides have invaluable knowledge of trails and their surroundings to provide you with a less stressful and more in-depth riding experience. Additionally, guides are trained to evaluate trail and weather conditions as well as rider ability to ensure riders avoid accidents for the safest ride possible.

St. Elmo Ghost Town to the Famed Alpine Tunnel by Absolute Bikes Adventures
Level: Intermediate
Duration: Four to five hours
Included: Shuttle to site, full-suspension mountain bike, water bottle and guide
The Trip: Bike through Colorado history as you pedal up an old railroad grade from St. Elmo, one of Colorado best-preserved ghost towns, to the old mining towns of Romley and Hancock. In Hancock, you’ll ride up the famous Alpine Tunnel railroad grade, a line that was closed in 1910 and now delivers a beautiful, high-mountain bike ride encased by jagged peaks.

Estes Park’s Amazing Descent: Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park by Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides
Level: Easy
Duration: Six to eight hours
Included: Guide and transportation to Trail Ridge Road
The Trip: You don’t have to be an adept biker to have a National Geographic-caliber cycling experience. Try this 26-mile, all-downhill excursion from Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park. The trip includes a stop in Horseshoe Park for a snack before the 7-mile descent on downhill and flat terrain to Estes Park.

View complete listings for mountain biking guides in Colorado.

Options for Families

Adventures don’t have to be associated with vigorous physical activity. There are plenty of guided excursions among all the outfitters listed for families who are seeking an out-of-the box getaway or a way to help their kids learn to love the outdoors at an early age. A few to consider:

Rocky Mountain National Park & Central Rockies by Tracks & Trails
Duration: Nine days
Included: Friendly guidance from an experienced trip planner, personalized Adventure Kit trip portfolio, first night accommodation in a three- or four-star hotel in your gateway city, rental of a deluxe recreational vehicle (sized to fit your group) and nightly reservations in carefully chosen campgrounds in or around the national parks.
The Trip: For these customized Colorado road trips, Tracks & Trails does all the planning, while you and your family do the driving. Travel at your own place in a rented RV to destinations, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Leadville, Glenwood Springs, Redstone/Marble and Denver. At each location, detailed directions will lead you areas reserved for you to park and activities provided by trusted outfitters. 

Arkansas River Valley Multi Sport Expedition by Dvorak Expeditions
Level: Beginner to advanced
Duration: Two to five days
Included: Most meals, gear for overnight campouts on Arkansas River, stays in bed and breakfasts when you’re not camping and activity fees
The Trip: Dvorak Expeditions will coordinate a Arkansas River Valley activity to please every member of your family. Sign up for activities such as horseback riding, hiking, rafting, fly-fishing, rock climbing or fourteener climbs in the Collegiate Mountain Range. Then, spend the evening reminiscing about your exploits at a riverside campsite or nearby bed and breakfast.

Colorado Fourteeners

Climbing one of Colorado’s 58 fourteeners earns you true bragging rights, but the achievement does not come without careful preparation. Take the guesswork out of your journey by following a guide, who will help you predict storms and changing mountain weather. Guides can also chart the best trail up a peak for your abilities and help keep you hydrated and in tune with difficulties that come with high-altitude exertion. 

14ers and Alpine Ascents by Paragon Guides
Level: Experienced Hikers Seeking New Challenges
Duration: Eight to 12 hours
Included: Transportation, lunch, snacks and hiking poles
The Trip: These all-day guided adventures call for an early morning start and involve off-trail hiking in uneven and rocky terrain. Summit the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross, a peak in Sawatch Range named for the distinctive cross-shaped snowfield on its northeast face. You can also choose a smaller 12,000-foot-plus climb such as Grand Traverse Peak, Homestake Peak or Mt. Jackson. 

Multisport Adventures

There are so many ways to explore our great outdoors — why choose just one? Many adventure guides offer packages that include multiple ways to experience Colorado’s iconic landscape. Read on for a few suggestions.

Colorado Classic by Blazing Adventures
Level: Intermediate
Duration: Two days
Included: Horseback ride, lodging, rafting trip, admission to hot springs, meals and distillery tasting
The Trip: Gain an intimate taste of the central Rocky Mountains by partaking in three quintessential Colorado activities: horseback riding, whitewater rafting and relaxing in natural hot springs. Explore the picturesque cities of Carbondale and Redstone; sleep in a private cabin and melt away your worries at Avalanche Hot Springs. Learn more about Colorado hot springs.

Guided Winter Adventures in Colorado

While backcountry slopes can stimulate dreams of pristine, untouched powder and tranquil landscapes, navigating off-the-grid territory can be daunting. During these guided winter excursions, experts provide avalanche gear and training and help you navigate Colorado’s best backcountry routes for skiing and snowboarding.

Backcountry Hut Skiing by Paragon Guides
Level: Intermediate
Duration: One to three days
Included: Professional guides, hut fees, trailhead transportation, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liner/pillowcase, all meals, all group gear (including first-aid and repair kits), avalanche package (beacon, shovel and probe), backcountry and ski skills development, pre-trip orientation day at Arrowhead Ski Area, trip preparation packet and U.S. Forest service use fees
The Trip: Paragon Guides utilizes 16 huts in the 10th Mountain Division Hut System and skiing routes between AspenEagleVail and Leadville. You can design your getaway around routes thatallow you to stay in a single hut for one to three nights, or ski/snowboard from hut to hut (mileage between huts varies from 3 to 9 miles) for a more extensive trip. 

Multi-Day Backcountry Hut-to-Hut Trip by Aspen Expeditions
Level: Intermediate to expert alpine or telemark skiers (backcountry experience not required)
Duration: Two to five days
Included: Trained/certified ski guide, avalanche rescue equipment, hut fees, food, optional pre-trip orientation training day, sleeping bag and transportation to trailhead
The Trip: Set off on a ski tour in the Elk Mountains outside of Aspen with an out-of-the-way hut as your base. Huts are equipped with solar power, wood stoves, grub and sleeping bags, so all you have to do is ski in and enjoy. 

Read more about Colorado hut trips for cross-country skiing & snowshoeing.

Ski the Peaks by San Juan Mountain Guides
Level: Must feel comfortable and competent on black-rated runs at ski resorts
Duration: One day
Included: Certified/trained guide and avalanche equipment (probe, shovel and beacon)
The Trip: Hike up a peak in the San Juan Mountains to experience the reward of an unforgettable 3,000- to 5,000-foot descent down the mountain on your skis. Possible peaks include North Twilight Peak, The Grand Turk, Sultan Mountain, Bear Mountain, Kendall Mountain, North and South Lookout Peaks, The Battleship, Mt. Sneffels and Chicago Basin fourteeners. 

Find more Colorado adventure tours >>

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