Picture yourself walking through time, where each step reveals stories of ancient civilizations, frontier adventures, and crucial moments in American history. Colorado, with its breathtaking landscapes and rich heritage, is home to numerous historic landmarks that provide glimpses into the past. From the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde to the renowned battlegrounds and cultural sites, Colorado’s historic landmarks weave a vibrant tapestry of the state’s dynamic history.

These landmarks are not just remnants of the past; they are living stories that connect us to the people and events that shaped Colorado. Whether you are an avid history buff or a curious traveler, exploring these sites provides a deeper understanding of the state’s unique and diverse heritage.

In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey to discover some of the best historic landmarks in Colorado. Each site offers a unique window into different eras and aspects of Colorado’s history, making them must-visit destinations for anyone interested in the fascinating stories that lie beneath the surface. Get ready to uncover the history that makes Colorado truly remarkable!


Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park is a crown jewel among Colorado’s historic landmarks, offering a profound glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the region over 700 years ago. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best historic landmarks in Colorado, providing an unparalleled window into ancient civilization.


Mesa Verde National Park is located in the southwestern corner of Colorado, near the town of Cortez.

Overview and Significance

Mesa Verde, meaning “green table” in Spanish, is renowned for its well-preserved cliff dwellings and archaeological sites. Established in 1906, it was the first national park dedicated to the preservation of archaeological sites. The park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, making it one of the most significant and extensive archaeological preserves in the United States.

Key Features and Sites Within the Park

  • Cliff Palace: The largest and most famous cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace features 150 rooms and 23 kivas (ceremonial rooms). It is a testament to the architectural ingenuity and complex social structure of the Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Balcony House: This challenging tour includes climbing ladders and crawling through tunnels to explore a cliff dwelling that offers incredible views and fascinating insights into ancient construction techniques.
  • Long House: Located on Wetherill Mesa, Long House is the second-largest cliff dwelling in the park. It offers a more secluded and intimate experience compared to the more frequented Cliff Palace.
  • Spruce Tree House: One of the best-preserved cliff dwellings, Spruce Tree House allows visitors to step back in time and imagine daily life in this ancient community.

Visitor Tips and Highlights

  • Guided Tours: Many of the park’s cliff dwellings can only be visited on guided tours led by knowledgeable park rangers. These tours provide valuable insights into the history and significance of the sites.
  • Visitor and Research Center: Start your visit at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, which offers exhibits, a bookstore, and essential information about the park.
  • Scenic Drives and Hiking Trails: The park features several scenic drives and hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the mesa and the surrounding landscapes. These routes also lead to lesser-known archaeological sites and viewpoints.
  • Educational Programs: Mesa Verde offers a variety of educational programs, including ranger-led talks, evening programs, and special events that enhance the visitor experience.

Mesa Verde National Park is more than just a collection of ancient ruins; it’s a living museum that tells the story of a remarkable civilization. By visiting this iconic landmark, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the ingenuity, resilience, and cultural heritage of the Ancestral Puebloans. Plan your visit or camping trip to Mesa Verde and embark on a journey through history that you won’t soon forget.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site offers a fascinating look into the early days of the American frontier. This reconstructed adobe fort stands as one of the best historic landmarks in Colorado, showcasing the pivotal role it played in trade and cultural exchange during the 19th century.


Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located near La Junta, Colorado.

Overview and Significance

Originally built in 1833 by William and Charles Bent, along with Ceran St. Vrain, Bent’s Old Fort served as a vital trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. It was a hub of commerce where trappers, traders, Plains Indians, and settlers came together to exchange goods, news, and cultures. The fort played a crucial role in the economic and social development of the region, facilitating trade between the United States and Mexico and serving as a sanctuary during turbulent times.

Historical Context and Significance

  • Trade and Commerce: The fort was a bustling center of trade, dealing in buffalo robes, horses, and manufactured goods. It attracted diverse groups, including Native American tribes such as the Cheyenne and Arapaho, Mexican traders, and American frontiersmen.
  • Cultural Exchange: Bent’s Old Fort was a melting pot of cultures, where different traditions, languages, and customs intermingled. This cultural exchange is a key aspect of the fort’s historical significance.
  • Military and Diplomatic Role: The fort also served as a diplomatic and military outpost, offering a neutral ground for negotiations and providing support to the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War.

Visitor Tips and Highlights

  • Living History Programs: The fort offers immersive living history programs where interpreters in period clothing demonstrate traditional crafts, trades, and daily activities. These programs bring the past to life and offer a hands-on learning experience.
  • Guided Tours: Take a guided tour to learn about the fort’s history, architecture, and the people who lived and worked there. Knowledgeable guides provide detailed insights and fascinating anecdotes.
  • Special Events: Throughout the year, the fort hosts special events such as reenactments, festivals, and educational programs that highlight different aspects of frontier life.
  • Trails and Outdoor Activities: Explore the surrounding trails and enjoy the natural beauty of the Arkansas River Valley. The trails offer opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and experiencing the landscape that shaped the fort’s history.
  • Visitor Center: Start your visit at the visitor center, which features exhibits, a bookstore, and information about the fort’s history and significance.

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is a captivating destination that offers a window into the complex and dynamic history of the American West. By visiting this landmark, you can step back in time and experience the sights, sounds, and stories of the frontier era. Plan your visit to Bent’s Old Fort and discover the rich tapestry of Colorado’s past.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings offer a unique opportunity to explore the ancient architecture and cultural heritage of the Ancestral Puebloans. These preserved dwellings are one of the best historic landmarks in Colorado, providing visitors with a direct connection to the lives of the Native American tribes that once inhabited the region.


The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are located near Colorado Springs, at: 10 Cliff Dwellings Rd, Manitou Springs, CO 80829

Overview and Significance

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings were built more than 700 years ago by the Ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi. These dwellings were meticulously relocated from southwestern Colorado to their current location in Manitou Springs to preserve their historical significance and make them accessible to the public. The site offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the daily lives, architectural prowess, and cultural practices of these early inhabitants.

Key Features and Exhibits

  • Cliff Dwellings: The primary attraction is the cliff dwellings themselves, which visitors can enter and explore. These structures, built into the cliffs, showcase the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Anasazi Museum: Adjacent to the dwellings is the Anasazi Museum, which features a collection of artifacts, tools, pottery, and other items that provide insights into the culture, traditions, and daily life of the Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Nature Walk: The site includes a nature walk that highlights the native flora of the region, offering visitors a chance to learn about the plants that were integral to the Ancestral Puebloans’ way of life.

Visitor Tips and Highlights

  • Self-Guided Tours: Visitors are encouraged to take self-guided tours of the cliff dwellings, allowing them to explore at their own pace and spend time in the areas that interest them most.
  • Educational Programs: The site offers educational programs and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and demonstrations that delve into various aspects of Ancestral Puebloan culture and history.
  • Gift Shop: The gift shop features a variety of Native American crafts, jewelry, books, and souvenirs, providing visitors with unique mementos of their visit.
  • Photography Opportunities: The scenic location and well-preserved dwellings make for excellent photography opportunities. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the stunning architecture and beautiful surroundings.

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings offer a rare and fascinating look into the past, allowing visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Ancestral Puebloans and gain a deeper appreciation for their remarkable achievements. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a student, or simply curious about ancient cultures, a visit to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings promises an enriching and unforgettable experience. Plan your visit and step back in time to explore this extraordinary historical landmark.


Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District

The Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District is a captivating area that brings to life the vibrant history of Colorado’s mining boom. Recognized as one of the best historic landmarks in Colorado, this district offers an authentic glimpse into the late 19th-century silver mining era.


The Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District is located along I-70, about 45 miles west of Denver, encompassing the towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume.

Overview and Significance

Designated as a National Historic Landmark District, Georgetown-Silver Plume is a well-preserved area that illustrates the rich history of Colorado’s mining heritage. The district’s Victorian architecture, historic buildings, and charming streets reflect the prosperity and cultural dynamics of the silver mining boom. The area includes over 200 buildings from the late 19th century, making it a remarkable example of a mining-era community.

Key Landmarks and Attractions Within the District

  • Georgetown Loop Railroad: One of the most popular attractions, the Georgetown Loop Railroad is a scenic narrow-gauge railway that connects Georgetown and Silver Plume. This historic train ride offers stunning views of the Rocky Mountains and provides a unique way to experience the area’s mining history.
  • Hamill House Museum: This beautifully restored Victorian mansion was the home of silver baron William Hamill. The museum offers guided tours that showcase the opulent lifestyle of the era and provide insights into the local history.
  • Hotel de Paris Museum: Originally a luxurious hotel catering to wealthy miners and travelers, the Hotel de Paris Museum now offers a fascinating look into 19th-century hospitality and commerce. The museum features original furnishings, artifacts, and exhibits that tell the story of the hotel’s illustrious past.
  • Silver Plume Bakery: A historic bakery located in the town of Silver Plume, offering delicious baked goods in a charming, old-world setting. It’s a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the local flavors.

Visitor Tips and Highlights

  • Walking Tours: Take a self-guided or guided walking tour to explore the historic streets and buildings of Georgetown and Silver Plume. Maps and brochures are available to help visitors navigate and learn about the area’s rich history.
  • Festivals and Events: The district hosts a variety of annual events and festivals that celebrate its heritage, including the Georgetown Christmas Market, Historic Georgetown Inc.’s Summer Tours, and special train rides during the holidays.
  • Shopping and Dining: Explore the unique shops, antique stores, and local eateries in Georgetown, where you can find everything from handcrafted goods to gourmet meals.
  • Outdoor Activities: The surrounding area offers plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and camping, providing opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of the Colorado Rockies.

The Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District is a living testament to Colorado’s mining history, offering a rich and immersive experience for visitors. Whether you’re riding the historic railroad, touring opulent Victorian homes, or simply strolling through the picturesque streets, this district provides a unique and engaging way to connect with the past. Plan your visit to Georgetown-Silver Plume and step back into the vibrant history of Colorado’s mining era.

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site is a poignant reminder of one of the darkest chapters in Colorado’s history. As one of the best historic landmarks in Colorado, it serves as a place of reflection and education about the tragic events that occurred in 1864.


The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site is located in Kiowa County, near the town of Eads, Colorado.

Overview and Significance

On November 29, 1864, a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho people was attacked by a force of 675 U.S. volunteer soldiers, resulting in the deaths of over 230 Native Americans, most of whom were women, children, and elderly. This brutal event, known as the Sand Creek Massacre, was a devastating blow to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and remains a significant and somber part of American history.

The site was designated as a National Historic Site in 2007 to acknowledge and remember the massacre and its impact on Native American history. It stands as a testament to the need for understanding, reconciliation, and respect for the lives lost and the cultures affected.

Historical Context and Key Features

  • Memorial Area: The heart of the site is a memorial area where visitors can pay their respects and reflect on the events of the massacre. Informative plaques and interpretive signs provide context and details about the tragedy.
  • Walking Trails: Several trails wind through the site, allowing visitors to explore the landscape and gain a sense of the setting where the massacre took place. These trails offer a quiet and contemplative experience, encouraging reflection on the historical significance of the area.
  • Visitor Center: The visitor center features exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of the massacre, its causes, and its aftermath. Artifacts, photographs, and personal accounts help to tell the story from multiple perspectives, including those of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people.

Visitor Tips and Highlights

  • Guided Tours: Park rangers offer guided tours that provide in-depth information about the history of the Sand Creek Massacre and the site’s significance. These tours are invaluable for gaining a comprehensive understanding of the events and their impact.
  • Educational Programs: The site offers various educational programs and resources for schools, educators, and visitors of all ages. These programs aim to promote awareness and understanding of this critical moment in history.
  • Respectful Visitation: Visitors are encouraged to approach the site with respect and sensitivity, acknowledging the profound loss and significance it holds for the Cheyenne and Arapaho descendants and all who come to learn about this history.
  • Photography: While photography is allowed, visitors are reminded to be mindful of the solemn nature of the site and to take photos respectfully.

The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site is a place of remembrance and learning. By visiting, you honor the memory of those who lost their lives and contribute to a broader understanding of this tragic event in American history. Plan your visit or bike trip to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site to reflect on the past and engage with the important lessons it imparts.



Colorado’s historic landmarks offer a rich tapestry of stories, cultures, and experiences that highlight the state’s diverse and dynamic history. From ancient cliff dwellings and bustling frontier forts to poignant historical sites and charming opera houses, these landmarks provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Recap of Tips for Visiting Colorado’s Best Historic Landmarks

  • Plan Ahead: Check the operating hours, tour schedules, and any special events before your visit to make the most of your experience.
  • Guided Tours and Programs: Take advantage of guided tours and educational programs to gain deeper insights into the history and significance of each site.
  • Respect the Sites: Many of these landmarks hold deep cultural and historical significance. Approach your visit with respect and mindfulness, especially at sites like the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
  • Explore Nearby Attractions: Many historic landmarks are located near other interesting sites or natural attractions. Consider combining visits to multiple locations for a richer experience.
  • Photography and Souvenirs: Capture your visit with photos, but remember to respect any photography guidelines. Don’t forget to check out the gift shops for unique souvenirs and educational materials.

Exploring the best historic landmarks in Colorado is a journey through time that connects you with the stories and events that have shaped the state. Whether you’re delving into ancient civilizations at Mesa Verde, experiencing frontier life at Bent’s Old Fort, or enjoying a performance at the Central City Opera House, each visit offers a unique and enriching experience. So, plan your trip, step back in time, and discover the remarkable history that makes Colorado truly special.