Seasonal Activities and Historic Sites in Elizabeth, Colorado


Known for its rich pioneer history and access to incredible natural landscapes, Elizabeth, Colorado, provides unique experiences shaped by the seasons, from winter adventures in fresh powder snow to summer hikes among wildflower meadows. This guide explores the top attractions, activities, and accommodations for an unforgettable visit.


  • Elizabeth, Colorado, provides scenic drives along routes like the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway and access to outdoor recreation in the surrounding prairie and mountains.
  • The town celebrates its Old West roots with historic attractions and events like visits to working Colorado cattle ranches.
  • Each season offers distinct experiences, from winter sports to summer wildflower viewing on hikes and scenic drives.

Charming Small Town Atmosphere

Located in Elbert County in the eastern region of Colorado, United States, Elizabeth is a charming town about 35 miles southeast of Denver, the state’s capital. It is also not far from Colorado Springs, Castle Pines, Parker, Castle Rock, Frank Town, Kiowa, and Monument.

Defined by its rural charm, the town is embraced by vast grasslands and ranches, offering residents and visitors picturesque views and a serene environment. Elizabeth’s appeal lies in its close proximity to outdoor havens like the Pike National Forest and Castlewood Canyon State Park, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape.

Elizabeth first emerged in the 1860s as a supply post for travelers heading West along the Cherokee Trail through Colorado. The town soon became an agricultural community, with cattle and sheep ranches spreading across the prairie. This Old West pioneer spirit still shapes modern Elizabeth, evident in its Western storefronts and rodeos celebrating the continuing ranching culture.

The peaceful small-town atmosphere makes Elizabeth an appealing escape from city life. Visitors can stroll down the main street to explore shops showcasing local arts and crafts, chat with a resident or two on the sidewalks, and enjoy views of the undeveloped prairie horizon surrounding the town. The Elizabeth Brewing Company crafts small-batch beer with regional flair, while eateries like the 1897 House Restaurant serve classic comfort foods.

Whether learning about Elizabeth’s past at the town museum or simply relaxing in its sleepy pace of life, the town offers a taste of authentic rural America.

Dramatic Landscapes and Outdoor Adventure

The Elizabeth area’s natural surroundings star in many of its top attractions. To the west rise the Rocky Mountains, visible from spots around town on clear days. Alpine forests, wildflower meadows, winding canyons, and snow-capped peaks provide endless inspiration for outdoor recreation.

Several scenic byways pass through Elizabeth, allowing visitors to soak up dramatic high-country vistas. The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway connects visitors to rich fossil beds, while the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway winds over alpine passes. Other popular drives include the Mount Evans and Guanella Pass Scenic Byways, offering panoramic views of mountains and open prairie.

Outdoor activities abound in the region as well. Elizabeth offers prime access to excellent hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing. In winter, downhill and cross-country skiing opportunities open up at resorts. Wildlife viewing also draws visitors hoping to spot deer, elk, coyotes, bald eagles, and other animals.

With this wealth of natural beauty surrounding the Elizabeth area, outdoor enthusiasts will find endless possibilities to explore.

Rich History and Cultural Heritage

Beyond the natural landscapes, Elizabeth’s pioneer past also helps shape its cultural heritage and tourist attractions. Several historic sites provide windows into the Old West, from 19th-century homesteads to the Santa Fe Trail.

The local history museum displays artifacts from Elizabeth’s founding era, helping visitors understand the daily lives of its early settlers. Many buildings around downtown date back over a hundred years as well. Self-guided walking tours allow visitors to take in this living history while also supporting local businesses.

Several working cattle and guest ranches also surround Elizabeth, showcasing traditional ranching life on the prairie. Visitors can tour the ranches to view horseback riding demonstrations, cattle drives, and sheep shearing. Seasonal festivals like shearing days and cattle branding celebrations offer additional chances to engage hands-on with enduring regional folk culture.

Here are a few local ranches:

  • Rambler Ranch
  • Buckeye Ranch
  • Spruce Mountain Ranch
  • Shadow Mountain Ranch
  • Bella Vita Ranch
  • Elbert County Ranches

By exploring Elizabeth’s heritage sites, tourists gain a deeper appreciation of the landscape’s timeless, elemental spirit rooted in the lives of pioneers.

Seasonal Fun for All

While Elizabeth entices visitors year-round with its small-town charms and wealth of outdoor recreation, the seasons each highlight unique attractions.

Spring welcomes spectacular wildflower blooms, especially in May. Hiking trails are filled with colorful flowers. Scenic drives like the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway and Pawnee Pioneer Trails allow visitors to enjoy endless wildflower vistas as well. Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s annual Wildflower Festival celebrates this stunning display.

Summer sees Elizabeth embrace its Old West roots with several cultural events, including rodeos, county fairs showcasing local agriculture, and an annual Pioneer Daysys festival. Families also flock to the area to enjoy activities like horseback riding, swimming, boating at nearby reservoirs, and hiking in the cool forests of the Rocky Mountains.

Fall brings blazing golden Aspen groves and crisp air. Scenic drives over mountain passes like Guanella Pass Scenic Byway treat visitors to incredible fall foliage. Apple orchards around Elizabeth also host autumn harvest festivals.

Once winter snow blankets the landscape, Elizabeth transforms into a winter wonderland. Ski resorts offer downhill runs through snowy pines. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails abound as well. Ice fishing and snowmobiling allow for even more cold-weather adventures.

Regardless of the season, Elizabeth provides the perfect scenic mountain town atmosphere to enjoy everything Colorado offers.

Lodging and Amenities

Elizabeth accommodates visitors with a nice range of comfortable lodging options to suit various budgets and preferences. Downtown offers several small hotels and inns housed in historic buildings, providing quintessential mountain charm. Bed and breakfasts on the outskirts of town provide another cozy, personal lodging choice.

The town also offers access to resort rentals at nearby resorts, with slope-side rentals that provide ski-in and ski-out convenience during winter months. Alternately, the wide open prairie surrounding Elizabeth allows for primitive and RV camping opportunities to fully embrace the area’s pioneer spirit.

In terms of amenities, several restaurants around downtown offer hearty regional fare, from bison burgers to Rocky Mountain trout. The many scenic drives around Elizabeth additionally provide access to mountain resort towns like Evergreen, Conifer, and Bailey for even more dining options.

Whether staying in downtown lodges or renting a remote cabin retreat, Elizabeth delivers accommodations matching the warm hospitality of the American West.


What is there to do in Elizabeth, Colorado?

Elizabeth offers small-town charm and Old West heritage sites downtown, incredible access to outdoor recreation in surrounding mountains and prairie, scenic drives along byways like the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, and seasonal attractions like summer rodeos and winter skiing.

When is peak tourist season in Elizabeth?

Summer and winter see the most tourists. Summer provides hiking, biking, boating, horseback riding, and outdoor festivals and events. Winter offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.

What is the best way to experience local culture in Elizabeth?

Visit one of the working cattle and guest ranches around Elizabeth to see real cowboys in action during activities like cattle drives and equestrian demonstrations. The summer rodeo circuit also showcases local ranching traditions.

What scenic drives near Elizabeth are must-sees?

The Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, Guanella Pass Scenic Byway, and Peak to Peak Scenic Byway provide stunning mountain vistas and opportunities for stops at forests, parks, trailheads and winter ski resorts.

Does Elizabeth have family-friendly accommodations and activities?

Yes, Elizabeth offers family lodging options downtown and at nearby mountain resorts. Families also enjoy seasonal events like summer rodeos and pioneer days, as well as year-round recreational activities like horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and swimming at area reservoirs.


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.