Gas up the four-wheel drive and have a photo album ready. After this trip, it'll be loaded with unforgettable images of Colorado's vast grandeur.
Venture south toward Alamosa to experience a true wonder: Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (nps.gov/grsa). Capture the scene that draws comparisons to the Arabian Desert, though defies those comparisons with marvelous surroundings of snow-capped peaks, dense forests and shimmering streams.
An artist could not paint a prettier picture than what you'll see out your window after leaving Lake City along the Alpine Loop (codot.gov), circling a dreamy 63 miles above meadows framed by mountains. Experience this journey through the heart of the San Juans when you can - typically from June to September when snow clears from the rugged road. Enticing stops dot the byway, including a handful of ghost towns.
Onward to one of the state's more scenic sites. Drive along the south rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (nps.gov/blca) near Montrose or set out on foot through the diverse landscape, which blends water, high woods and rock spires.
In Telluride, the oohs and aahs come quickly - right when you arrive to the historic downtown, where the backdrop of Victorian buildings is dramatic, craggy mountains. With a little effort, awe-inspiring photo ops await at Bridal Veil Falls and Bear Creek Falls (telluride.com).
Grand Junction is home to Colorado National Monument (nps.gov/colm), a panorama of red-rock monoliths spotting a forested plateau. Be sure to set your lens on the Grand Mesa (visitgrandjunction.com), the world's largest flat-top mountain.
You'll have to work for your next pictures: the trail to Hanging Lake (visitglenwood.com), starting near Glenwood Springs, gains more than 1,000 vertical feet in less than 2 miles. But there's a reason it's one of Colorado's more trafficked trails, with the reward of an emerald pool beneath a waterfall.
Last but certainly not least are the Maroon Bells (aspenchamber.org), touted as Colorado's most photographed site and deserving of an annual pilgrimage. Visitors are bussed from Aspen to the wilderness, with a centerpiece of twin peaks looming over a lake. People perch their cameras at the shoreline for hours, waiting for the clouds and sun to play perfectly.