The US state of Colorado is well-known for its diverse geography which includes mountains, canyons, deserts, plains, and more. The state’s majestic landscapes, geographical features, flora, and fauna are protected by its four national parks. They are as follows:
4. Mesa Verde National Park
This national park was established on June 29, 1906. It was also inscribed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1978. The park encompasses an area of 212.40 square km in the US state of Colorado. The park was established with the aim of preserving the ancient archeological sites of the Ancestral Puebloans. The Mass Verde hosts over 4,300 such sites including hundreds of cliff dwellings. The park received 613,788 visitors in 2017. The natural landscape of the park features low desert plateaus, mountains, and canyons. The elevations here range between 1,829 and 2,613 m.
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
This protected area includes a national park that covers the San Luis Valley’s eastern edge and an adjacent preserve that protects a part of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The protected area was founded on September 24, 2004. The national park and the preserve together occupy an area of 603.09 square km. As the name indicates, the national park conserves the Great Sand Dunes which are North America’s tallest dunes and exist across an area of 78 square km. The dunefield was formed over thousands of years. The protected area recorded a footfall of 486,935 visitors in 2017. Hiking, sandboarding, sandsledding, and driving are some of the activities enjoyed by tourists visiting the national park.
2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
This national park is located in western Colorado. It was established on October 21, 1999. A part of the Gunnison River’s Black Canyon is the main feature of the area. 19 km of the 77 km long canyon is located within the limits of this park. This section of the canyon has the most striking features and is deepest. Parts of the canyon are so deep that sunlight reaches such areas for only about 33 minutes per day. The national park also hosts a rich collection of flora and fauna. Some of the mammals found here include the muskrat, beaver, raccoon, cougar, pronghorn, black bear, etc. Many species of birds like the peregrine falcon, American dipper, eight hawk species, six owl species, eagles, etc., can be observed in the national park. In 2017, 307,143 visitors visited this national park. Tourists to the park enjoy scenic drives through the park, tent-camping, hiking, boating, fishing, etc.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
This national park of Colorado is located in the state’s north-central part about 122 km from the Denver International Airport. It was founded on January 26, 1915, and has an area of 1,074.28 square km. It is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The park has varied landscapes including mountains, lakes, forests, and mountain tundra. About 2,000 to 3,000 elk inhabit the park. Other ungulates like mule deer, bighorn sheep, and moose are also found here. Some of the predatory species living here are the bobcat, black bear, coyotes, cougar, lynx, etc.