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Up, up, up: That’s northwest Colorado’s mantra. Switch-backing mountain passes cross over the Continental Divide, where the air is thin and smells of pine needles. Eventually, these dramatic, evergreen-sided peaks surrender to the Western Slope’s scarlet rocks and high, sage-covered mesas.

But in between the vastly different geographies lies a dense array of world-class ski resorts, gushing whitewater rivers, deep sandstone canyons, stunning cliffs, huge alpine lakes and even a few dinosaur footprints. Some of the state’s favorite hot springs are found here, as well, filling natural and manmade pools in Steamboat Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs and Glenwood Springs.

More wonders congregate around the town of Grand Junction: The Grand Mesa, the world’s highest flattop mountain, is to the east; Colorado National Monument, a gallery of desert-rock formations, is to the west; and the dramatic Book Cliffs descend right into town from the north. Warm days and cool nights define this agricultural area, which supplies the state with juicy peaches, fragrant melons and supple wine grapes.

And, far to the north, where the land finally flattens back into plains, sits Dinosaur National Monument, a fossil-filled park that is like taking a step back into the Jurassic era.

Use the articles and city pages below for ideas on things to do as you plan your next vacation in Colorado's Northwest region.