Fremont County, Colorado: Outdoor Fun and Cultural Riches


Fremont County, in south-central Colorado, is home to towns like Canon City, Lincoln Park, and Florence and some of the state’s most stunning scenery. The area offers visitors a dazzling array of natural beauty, exciting outdoor adventures, and rich historical and cultural attractions.


  • Fremont County offers iconic scenic drives like the Gold Belt Tour and Frontier Pathways and a range of outdoor activities throughout the four seasons.
  • Cultural attractions include dinosaur fossil sites, historic mining towns, local arts and crafts, and annual events like fall festivals.
  • The county offers family-friendly resorts, summer camps, and educational dinosaur museums.
  • Accommodations range from luxurious all-inclusive resorts to budget-friendly campgrounds and vacation rentals.

Sweeping Landscapes and Natural Wonders

Fremont County’s diverse landscape includes high Rocky Mountain peaks, open parks, red rock canyons, and sand dunes. Pikes Peak in nearby Colorado Springs is the area’s most iconic mountain, towering over the county at 14,115 feet. Visitors also flock to see the Collegiate Peaks, many of which are over 14,000 feet high and visible from most parts of the county.

The county’s rivers and streams offer world-class rafting and fishing opportunities. The Arkansas River, which carved the Royal Gorge over millions of years, provides Class IV and V rapids for whitewater rafting. Anglers can cast for trout in the Arkansas River and high mountain streams and lakes.

In addition to the soaring peaks and rushing waters, visitors marvel at Fremont County’s wondrous geologic formations like the Garden Park Fossil Area. One of the world’s richest fossil beds from the Late Jurassic period, this area allows visitors to discover real dinosaur bones and tracks.

Immersing in Local Culture

Beyond the natural landscapes, Fremont County offers visitors a chance to immerse in authentic local culture. The county has a rich mining history, evident in well-preserved Victorian buildings lining the Main Street areas of historic downtowns like Florence, Canon City, and Westcliffe. Visitors can tour mines and ride narrow-gauge railroads once used to transport gold and silver ore.

Local culture also shines through in the county’s dining scene. Family-owned restaurants serve classic Colorado cuisine like bison burgers, elk sausage, and Rocky Mountain trout. Several wineries and breweries offer tastings showcasing local ingredients. From fall festivals to year-round farmers markets, the county celebrates its agricultural bounties.

Visitors can directly engage with residents and local culture through hands-on activities like gold panning, leatherworking, quilting, and basket weaving. Annual events like Territory Days and the Wet Mountain Valley Festival feature reenactments of historical life along with artisan craft demonstrations.

Scenic Byways Offer Stunning Road Trip Opportunities

Colorado’s most iconic and breathtaking scenic drives pass through Fremont County. The Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway, stretching 112 miles, connects the Victorian buildings of Florence and Canon City to the soaring Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Further west, the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway offers views of the Collegiate Peaks while traversing mountain passes first carved by Native Americans and early settlers.

Other notable byways include Shelf Road, renowned for rock climbing, and the narrow Phantom Canyon Road, which passes gold rush ghost towns. The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway offers sweeping vistas of dinosaur fossil sites.

When planning a scenic drive, travelers should allot ample time to stop at overlooks and attractions. Carefully checking road conditions, weather reports, and vehicle preparation helps ensure a smooth and safe trip.

Four Distinct Seasons Offer Varied Activities

The county’s four distinct seasons offer adventures and events for visitors to enjoy. Skiers and snowboarders flock to Monarch Mountain in winter, boasting over 800 acres of trails and epic snowfall. Many others strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore the backcountry, while ice climbers test their skills on frozen waterfalls.

When warmer weather arrives in spring, rafters run the Arkansas River’s rapids at their peak. Hikers and mountain bikers take to the trails to see wildflowers in bloom and wildlife emerging from hibernation. Fly fishing heats up as trout become more active.

Summertime brings endless outdoor recreation, from summiting 14,000-foot peaks to overnight backpacking trips. The county also offers cultural festivals like Territory Days, honoring the region’s frontier past with reenactments, rodeos, and more. Families enjoy the summer at lakeside resorts and sleepaway camps.

Fall sees the changing aspens blanketing hillsides in vibrant gold. The crisp air makes for ideal hiking and biking conditions. Many gather for the fall grape harvest, touring local wineries during festivals like the Wet Mountain Harvest.

Outdoor Adventures Abound

Fremont County has some of the best outdoor adventures in the United States, from hiking to rafting to rock climbing. The county boasts over 40 peaks topping 14,000 feet, luring mountaineers to test their skill and endurance. Rock climbers flock to destinations like Shelf Road, with over 1,000 diverse climbing routes on limestone cliffs.

The Arkansas River offers Colorado’s best whitewater rafting through the spectacular Royal Gorge. Calmer waters like Lake Pueblo State Park provide stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing, and kayaking opportunities. Anglers can cast for trout in both rivers and alpine lakes.

With over 1,500 miles of trails, hikers enjoy wildflower-filled meadows, cascading waterfalls, soaring ridgelines, and diverse wildlife. Many trails also allow mountain biking and horseback riding. The extensive trail network connects campgrounds and backcountry huts for multi-day excursions.

Following proper safety precautions helps ensure an enjoyable experience when enjoying the outdoors. Checking weather and trail conditions, packing adequate food/water/gear for the activity and duration, and knowing one’s limitations is imperative.

Family-Friendly and Educational Experiences

Beyond adventure, Fremont County offers many family-friendly resorts and educational attractions. Numerous lakeside resorts provide a home base for families, with amenities like pools, playgrounds, and organized kids’ activities. The county’s sleepaway camps allow kids to develop outdoor skills while parents enjoy time off safely.

Dinosaur fossil sites like Garden Park and Dinosaur Hill bring natural history to life. At Dinosaur Depot, visitors can watch paleontologists cleaning and cataloging fossils. The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience offers dinosaur replicas in a natural setting with guided educational tours.

Other kid-friendly attractions include a giant outdoor maze, a dinosaur-themed mini-golf course, museums covering mining and railroad history, and a wildlife sanctuary rehabilitating injured raptors. Whether learning or playing, Fremont County keeps families engaged.

Places to Stay and Dine

Visitors can choose from rustic campgrounds, budget-friendly motels, vacation home rentals, and all-inclusive resorts. Luxury properties like The Broadmoor offer lavish accommodations, fine dining, an equestrian center, a golf course, swimming pools, and more. Guest ranches provide a quintessential Colorado experience with horseback riding and evening campfires. For budget travelers, campgrounds and no-frills motels provide an affordable base from which to explore by day.

Dining runs the gamut from casual cafes to gourmet restaurants. Family-owned establishments serve classic Colorado cuisine featuring native ingredients like bison, elk, trout, and regional produce. Winery tasting rooms offer their vintages alongside charcuterie boards. For iconic Colorado flavors, visitors shouldn’t miss trying a green chile cheeseburger with local Pueblo chiles or a slice of mile-high pie made with fruit from Palisade’s orchards.

Planning Your Fremont County Getaway

While Fremont County offers year-round adventure, the peak visitor seasons run from June through September. Travelers should book popular summer activities like whitewater rafting and family resorts well in advance. Fall is also popular with comfortable weather and events like grape harvest festivals.

The best way to experience the county is by car, which allows travelers to traverse scenic byways and stop at roadside attractions. Travelers can also fly into nearby airports like Colorado Springs or Pueblo and rent a car. Some resorts and ranches offer shuttle services for guests traveling from these airports.

First-time visitors often try packing too much into one trip. Focusing on a specific county region allows for a more relaxed pace with less driving. Travelers should mix active adventures with downtime to soak in stunning vistas or explore historic downtowns. Most importantly, don’t rush-take the time to immerse yourself in Fremont County’s natural splendor and cultural riches.


What are the top things to do in Fremont County?

Popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, skiing, fishing, scenic drives, visiting dinosaur fossil sites, touring historic towns, and attending local festivals.

When is the best time to visit Fremont County?

Summer and fall see the most visitors, but the county offers year-round recreation. Spring has wildflowers and rapids, while winter offers skiing and snowshoeing.

What is there to do with kids?

Families enjoy resorts with organized kids’ activities, summer camps, dinosaur museums and fossil digs, mini golf, a giant maze, and a raptor sanctuary.

Where should I stay?

Accommodations range from luxurious resorts like The Broadmoor to guest ranches, vacation rentals, budget-friendly motels, and campgrounds. Choose based on your interests and budget.

What is the easiest way to get around?

Having a car allows the most flexibility. Some resorts offer shuttles, but many key attractions and towns require driving. Be sure to allow ample time for scenic drives.


About the author

Ransom Patterson

My expertise in Colorado life extends beyond just residing here; it’s also about living actively within the community. I spend my time cycling through Denver’s trails, experimenting with local cuisines, and immersing myself in the local music scene. These activities give me a unique perspective on the cultural and outdoor offerings of Colorado. This hands-on approach allows me to provide insider tips and personal recommendations that resonate with both locals and visitors alike.