How to Explore the Mountain States If You HATE Camping

The mountain states have a reputation for attracting the kinds of weekend warriors who get done with work in Denver Friday afternoon and are embarking on a 300-mile bike trip by Saturday morning. With rugged peaks, rushing rivers, red rock canyons and all manner of unforgettable scenery, the mountain states attract the hardcore, but also have plenty to tempt less maniacal adventurers. If you are looking for a mountain state getaway minus the sleeping bag, sore muscles and mosquito bites, here’s how to enjoy the very essence of the mountain states without punishing yourself: 

View of Otis, Hallett and Flattop Mountains from Sprague Lake [Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado]

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Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo. | Sure you can stay in campgrounds, bivouac in the wilderness, but there are plenty of lower impact ways to enjoy the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. Find a hotel room in nearby Estes Park or Grand Lake and then you can take on the park any way you want to. The park’s elevation tops out over 12,000 ft, so it’s essential that you take it slow, especially for the first few days. Start things off right with a stunning drive on a Colorado scenic byway. The popular Trail Ridge Road lets you take in the whole sweep of the Rocky Mountains from a variety of pull-outs and viewpoints. Day two, dig a little deeper on a short walk or nature trail. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, big-horn sheep and mule deer.
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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.