When you’re traveling with teenagers, it can take a special kind of magic to win them over. Good news: That’s exactly what Southern Colorado offers. The whole family will be enchanted by activities that get adrenaline pumping, unique experiences with wildlife and amazing mountain vistas.
During a visit, the town of Hillside is an ideal place to set up base. With studio cottages as well as a family-sized house, there is space to give your teens just enough independence while still coming together for some evenings spent stargazing.
From Hillside, these must-do activities are within easy driving distance:
Go mountain biking in Cañon City: Nearby Cañon City has miles and miles of mountain biking trails with great options for everyone from a trail novice to pro. If you first need to get your pedals beneath you, check out the pump track just off the Arkansas Riverwalk Trail in town. With more confidence, go for the 6-mile Section 13 loop, which climbs and falls some 900 feet on manageable single-track. Lost Paddle Rafting also operates a number of day tours on some of the region’s coolest trails—with the added benefit of rental bikes and return shuttles.
Conquer your fear of heights in Salida: For a unique view of Salida, get your feet off the ground at Captain Zipline, the state’s largest aerial adventure park. High-flying options include the Lost Canyon Zipline Tour (for ages 6 and older) , Canyon Aerial Course (8 and older) and a via ferrata route (14 and older).
Make some new friends at Mission: Wolf: Near Westcliffe, the non-profit, educational sanctuary at Mission: Wolf is unlike any other wildlife experience in Colorado. Wolf behavioral sessions allow visitors to observe bi-weekly feedings and offers chances for interaction—if the wolves so chose. As the operators of Mission: Wolf explain on their website, “Because we let the wolves make such choices rather than being coerced to do so, we believe it makes the interspecies communication we facilitate in our Wolf Behavior Sessions all the more special and rewarding for everyone involved.” Mission: Wolf is free to visit with donations encouraged to help the sanctuary continue to operate.
Go remote on the Comanche-Venable Loop: South of Westcliffe lies the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area, a protected region of untouched forest and seldomly interrupted wildlife. Rated as a moderately difficult 12-mile loop, this is an ideal adventure for teens and adults who are interested in some more challenging hiking and even more rewarding views. The trail passes three thirteeners, two fourteeners, mountain lakes and an abandoned cabin.