Flagler, Colorado: Your Basecamp for Outdoor Adventures


Surrounded by wide open spaces, sweeping landscapes, and endless blue skies, Flagler provides a peaceful retreat from bustling cities while serving as the perfect base camp for outdoor adventures. From family-friendly activities to cultural events that celebrate local heritage, Flagler and the surrounding area have something to offer travelers of all kinds.


  • Flagler, Colorado is a charming small town with stunning natural scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • Iconic drives like the Alpine Loop and Boreas Pass Road wind through the mountains and showcase the region's beauty.
  • Families enjoy attractions like dinosaur fossil sites and Colorado family resorts in the summertime.
  • Festivals highlighting local culture and harvests take place during the fall months.
  • Numerous historic trails and pioneer sites provide a window into the area's frontier past.

Destination Overview

Flagler lies just over 100 miles east of Denver, making it an easy weekend getaway for urban residents seeking outdoor escapes. The town originated in the late 19th century as a railroad stop and farming community. Today, Flagler’s small-town charm, friendly locals, and proximity to natural wonders continue attracting visitors year-round.

Surrounding Flagler lies a diverse landscape encompassing high mountain peaks, open prairies, canyons, and rivers. The area provides limitless hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Colorado’s most iconic drives, such as the San Juan Skyway and Trail Ridge Road, pass through nearby public lands like national forests and state parks. These roads treat motorists to non-stop vistas of snow-capped peaks, evergreen forests, and alpine meadows.

In addition to natural scenery, numerous cultural and historical attractions enrich the Flagler area. From prehistoric dinosaur fossil sites to the well-preserved pioneer town of Dearfield, visitors can explore eras spanning millions of years while tracing the region’s frontier settlements. Annual events like the Flagler Harvest Festival and historic sites like the old Santa Fe Trail showcase the agricultural roots and rugged independence still characterizing area residents.

With its diversity of landscapes, recreation, heritage, and small-town hospitality, the Flagler area offers an authentic Colorado experience.

Local Experiences and Culture

Beyond Flagler’s natural attractions, the town and surrounding communities host numerous events and sites that provide visitors with authentic cultural experiences. Annual festivals like Flagler Founder’s Day, weekly summer concerts in the park, and the popular Harvest Festival in early fall immerse guests in local traditions, cuisine, and crafts.

The town maintains several historic buildings open for tours, including an 1887 railroad depot and the early 20th-century Plains Hotel. Dearfield, Colorado’s best-preserved all-Black pioneer town, is just north of Flagler. Once home to 700 residents, Dearfield today transports visitors to the early 1900s through restored buildings and stories recounting the settlers’ tenacious farming efforts.

Visitors can also view displays of Native American artifacts and petroglyphs at the Kit Carson County Carousel Museum or tour a mammoth fossil dig site at the Sierra Trading Post. Combined with area dude ranches offering horseback rides and cattle drives, these attractions provide families with interactive learning adventures into ancient cultures and the Old West.

Iconic Routes and Scenic Drives

With epic mountain routes and stunning scenic byways encircling Flagler, sightseeing opportunities abound for visitors preferring four wheels to two feet. Just 30 miles west of Flagler lies the Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway, considered one of Colorado’s most iconic drives. This 65-mile journey traverses high mountain passes surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks, including the scenic Independence Pass, which reaches 12,095 feet. One-lane gravel roads, a lack of guardrails, and possible summer snowstorms require drivers to exercise caution, but breathtaking vistas and remnants of abandoned mining towns reward those accepting the challenge.

The Boreas Pass Road Scenic Byway offers another mountain adventure skirting alpine meadows and passing historic railroad sites. Open seasonally after winter snows melt, this route’s 28 miles of gravel roadway climb over 11,500 feet before descending the eastern slope of the Continental Divide. Interpretive displays at abandoned railroad camps and the summit’s restored depot recount railroad workers’ remarkable feats in constructing tracks over the towering pass in the 1880s.

For travelers preferring pavement, the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway provides an excellent high-country tour. Linking the mountain towns of La Veta, Cuchara, and Trinidad, this route’s winding roads offer panoramic views of the Spanish Peaks’ distinctive twin summits. With the Sangre de Cristo mountain range providing an ever-changing backdrop, the Highway of Legends delights sightseers and photographers with its diversity of vistas.

Seasonal Activities and Events

The Flagler area provides year-round events and outdoor activities, ensuring visitors enjoy the region regardless of season. Summertime brings endless hiking, biking, camping, boating, and family fun opportunities. Just north of Flagler, the Colorado State Forest State Park offers activities from fishing and horseback riding to gold panning and touring pioneer homesteads. Families enjoy dinosaur fossil digs on private ranches or exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park’s 750-foot high dunes.

As the aspens begin changing colors in September, festivals showcasing local agriculture and culture ramp up. The Logan County Fair and Rodeo in August kicks things off before Flagler’s own Harvest Festival in mid-September. Also popular is the town of Matheson’s Old Fashioned Days on Labor Day weekend, featuring parade floats decorated with crops, arts and crafts vendors, stick horse rodeo for kids, and square dancing.

When winter arrives, ski resorts like Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain attract downhill enthusiasts to their slopes. Many ranches near Flagler also offer sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and cozy cabin rentals. Back in town, visitors enjoy small-town Christmas festivities like the Parade of Lights and Santa visiting the historic Plains Hotel.

Regardless of season, the Flagler area’s diversity of landscapes and activities promises visitors memorable adventures amid Colorado’s natural beauty.

Outdoor Adventures and Natural Landscapes

Surrounded by 1.5 million acres of national forest and grassland, Flagler provides unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. The area around Flagler offers over 200 miles of hiking and biking trails ranging from easy nature paths to steep mountain climbs. Anglers enjoy fishing three branches of the South Platte River or high-mountain lakes accessible only on horseback or foot. The region also provides excellent big-game hunting and year-round wildlife viewing for spotting elk, deer, pronghorn, and bird species.

Several scenic byways near Flagler also allow sightseers easier access to high-country vistas. The Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway tours the Flat Tops Wilderness Area with its alpine lakes and abundant wildlife. The Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway winds through Rocky Mountain National Park, topping out at 12,183 feet elevation amid summer snowfields flanked by sheer cliffs.

With its diversity of ecosystems and public lands managed for multiple uses, the Flagler area promises visitors unlimited ways to experience Colorado’s inspiring natural beauty and frontier spirit.

Historic Sites and Heritage Trails

Numerous historic sites near Flagler chronicle the frontier settlement of the American West, from Native American inhabitation to modern ranching. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of ancient peoples along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, once connecting Mexico and the United States. Remnants of old wagon ruts still mark early traders’ rugged route on journeys spanning hundreds of miles. Interpretive sites also showcase petroglyphs and ruins left by the Ancestral Puebloans, an early Native American culture flourishing over 700 years ago.

In Dearfield just north of Flagler, the Black American West Museum provides tours of restored homesteads, a schoolhouse, and businesses originally built by African American settlers in the early 20th century. Visitors learn about the agricultural colony’s heyday while hearing stories about residents’ perseverance in overcoming discrimination and harsh living conditions. Southeast of Flagler, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site authentically reconstructs the original 1833 trading post and frontier outpost where trappers, traders, and Native American tribes peacefully exchanged goods and cultures.

Guests looking to experience the Old West can ride horses along pioneer wagon trails or try panning for gold. With its diversity of historic sites and ability to transport visitors back in time, the Flagler area brings memorable stories of the region’s legendary past to life.

Family and Kid-Friendly Attractions

From hands-on dinosaur fossil digs to Old West reenactments, numerous attractions around Flagler cater to kids and families. Garden Park Fossil Area in nearby Canon City brings prehistoric beasts to life through museum displays and working paleontology labs, which visitors can tour. Several area ranches also host fossil digs, allowing families to uncover real dinosaur bones millions of years old.

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad provides a scenic ride through the steep Arkansas River canyon, which is 1,000 feet deep. Kids especially love riding in the open-air vista dome cars, which offer panoramic views of this natural landmark. For junior cowboys and cowgirls, Zapata Ranch near Great Sand Dunes National Park offers everything from horseback rides to roping lessons and kids’ rodeos. Guests can enjoy entertainment, such as cowboy singers and trick riders performing rope tricks and gun spinning.

Many area lodges and resorts also provide perfect bases for family vacations. With amenities ranging from children’s programs to petting zoos and game rooms, these comfortable accommodations keep kids smiling during their stay. Family-friendly cultural festivals, hiking trails suited for young legs, and campfire programs also ensure that both children and adults make the most of their travels through this scenic region.

Accommodations and Travel Planning

Flagler offers various lodging options to suit different needs and budgets. You can choose from well-known chain hotels like La Quinta Inn & Suites Flagler, Quality Inn & Suites Limon, or Best Western Limon.

Several area ranches also provide unique accommodations and activities. Zapata Ranch’s log cabins immerse guests in ranch life through horseback riding, kids’ rodeos, and chuckwagon dinners. For more rustic experiences, try tent camping or a cabin rental at nearby guest ranches and RV parks, like the Little England Motel & RV Park.

While Flagler enjoys a high country climate, providing moderate summers and cold, snowy winters, travelers can enjoy the area year-round. Summer offers the most options for scenic drives, festivals, and family activities. Fall provides a colorful display of turning aspens and excellent hiking and mountain biking. Winter activities shift to ice fishing, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing.

Regardless of the season, beautiful landscapes and western hospitality always await visitors to the Flagler area.


What is there to do in Flagler, Colorado?

Flagler offers small-town charm and hospitality along with endless outdoor recreation options. Visitors enjoy hiking, biking, camping, fishing, scenic drives on mountain passes, and exploring historic sites. Area ranches offer horseback riding, gold panning, and Old West experiences.

When is the best time to visit Flagler?

Summers provide moderate weather perfect for most outdoor pursuits, while fall showcases vibrant yellow and red foliage during the Aspens’ change of color. Winters still allow seasonal activities like ice fishing, snowshoeing, and skiing at nearby resorts.

What types of accommodation options does Flagler have?

Nearby chain hotels offer comfortable rooms and small-town hospitality. Just outside town, lodges and cabins allow guests to relax amid peaceful natural settings. Nearby ranches also offer cabin rentals and opportunities to experience authentic ranch life.

What natural areas and outdoor activities are accessible from Flagler?

With 1.5 million acres of national forest surrounding Flagler, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy hiking, biking, camping, fishing, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing. Nearby state parks and iconic drives like the Alpine Loop Backcountry Scenic Byway also showcase Colorado’s inspiring landscapes and geology.

Does Flagler have family-friendly attractions and events?

Yes, many area attractions and events cater to families and kids. These include fossil digs, train rides through the Royal Gorge, and junior rodeo experiences at Zapata Ranch. Many area lodges also offer kids’ programs and activities to keep children happily occupied.

If you’re seeking natural beauty, small-town charm, outdoor adventures, and family fun, consider adding Flagler, Colorado to your must-visit destinations list. Its diversity of landscapes and activities promises visitors of all ages lifelong memories of the American West.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.