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The Top 8 Paragliding Destinations in Colorado

Sitting on the Continental Divide between the north and south of the US, Colorado is home to some of the most stunning mountain ranges in America, and an array of national parks and forests.

As such, the state draws flyers from all over the country.

With this in mine, we’ve compiled our top 8 destinations for paragliding in Colorado.

Vail Valley, Avon.

You can fly from the top of Vail Valley – where you can paraglide year round – 4000ft above the resort itself. From here, you can experience far-reaching vistas of the valley, including Gore Range and NY mountain peaks in the distance.

In Autumn, the rolling hills present a collage of green, orange and red for pilots of all levels to enjoy. Vail Valley climate conditions favour the less experienced pilot, and offer a relaxing yet breathtaking experience for the more advanced.

Who should I contact?

Vail Valley Paragliding or Vail Soaring Club.

About the site…

Vail Valley Paragliding operates from two sites: Bellyache Ridge and Beaver Creek. Bellyache is open year-round and is ideal for USHPA-P2 rated flyers and above; while Beaver Creek is a winter-only site best suited to USHPA-P3/4 rated flyers (though this site is currently closed).

Aspen.

As one of the most famous paragliding locales in Colorado, finding a spot to begin your flight is easy thanks to the municipality’s many mountains and peaks. Densely populated with trees, you can look forward to gliding over the countless treetops as you make your descent.

With rocky mountains to be found in all directions, this paragliding spot is especially stunning in Winter, when the peaks are covered with snow.

Who should I contact?

Parapente Aspen Club.

About the site…

The best launch sites are Ruthie’s and Walshes Paragliding sites, which both have a USHPA P3 rating. To use Ruthie’s launch site, you must get clearance from the Aspen Airport Tower before flying. Both sites require a Parapente Aspen membership and a site briefing from a club member.

Red Mountain, Glenwood Springs.

A resort city named after its abundant hot springs, the weather conditions in Glenwood Springs make it great for paragliding year round.

The highest of the flight sites offered here is at Red Mountain – so-named for its rocky, red surface – which is a whopping 13,000 feet high.

As one of the highest take-off points in the US, if you can get past the fear-factor of being at such a great height, the views from this altitude can’t be beaten.

Who should I contact?

Glenwood Soaring Society.

About the site…

To fly from the Redwood Mountain launch, you have to be a member of USHPA and the Glenwood Soaring Society. This launch site is only suitable for flyers with a rating of USHPA-P2 or higher, unless you’re flying in tandem or as a registered student of a USHPA instructor.

Lookout Mountain, Golden.

If you’re considering paragliding in Golden, then you’ll most likely want to take off from Lookout Mountain, standing at almost 2,500ft above the city.

Pilots can look forward to flights of up to 30 minutes as they glide over the city, with views of the nearby hills and mountains available at every angle.

While mornings typically foster a calm climate ideal for less experienced flyers, as the day progresses the thermals grow increasingly stronger, with thunderstorms being common in the summer months.

Who should I contact?

Colorado Paragliding or Altitude Adventures.

About the site…

Pilots are required to have a rating of USHPA-P4 or higher; flyers with a lower rating may fly from the site if they take part in the Lookout Sponsorship Program, which supplies pilots with the know-how needed to fly the site safely.

Villa Grove.

Located in the San Luis Valley, Villa Grove is a tiny village surrounded by national forests and stunning mountain peaks.

The Villa Grove paragliding launch site sits on the incredible Sangre De Cristo mountain range, which is almost 10,000ft above sea level, offering some of the most breathtaking mountainous views to be found in Colorado. The site is also ideal for those wanting to do a bit of ridge soaring.

While mornings offer fairly calm weather conditions, for those inclined to ride the thermals, you can do so as the day approaches noon.

Who should I contact?

Boulder Paragliding.

About the site…

In the mornings, the Villa Grove launch site is suitable for USHPA-P2 rated flyers, though a higher USHPA rating is recommended as the thermals pick up towards noon. RMHPA recommends contacting a local pilot before your first flight.

Colorado Springs.

When taking off from one of the flying sites in Colorado Springs, you’ll experience views of some of the most rugged greenery that Colorado has to offer, with vast expanses of forest spreading in every direction.

This flight above the wilderness is a treat for any pilot, with the average flight time being around 40 minutes. Throughout your flight, you’ll be able to enjoy views of the snowy mountain peaks in the distance.

Who should I contact?

Pikes Peak Paragliding.

About the site…

The Colorado Springs take-off point is St. Patrick’s lookout at the top of the Section 16 hiking trail; pilots must be USHPA rated.

Alternatively, pilots can launch from Meadowlake Airport, though they must read and consent to the PPG/PPC Standard Operating Procedures.

Boulder.

The North Boulder paragliding site is located on Wonderland Hill. Though less impressive than some of the other locations on this list, the lush green hills and views of the azure Boulder Lake still makes Boulder worth visiting.

For newer pilots, this paragliding destination is less intimidating than many of the other Colorado paragliding hotspots. This makes it a great stepping stone for pilots building up to some of the more extreme Colorado paragliding destinations.

Early mornings present the calmest weather conditions necessary for less experienced fliers, while mid-mornings are best suited to those with more experience, providing ample opportunity to ride some exciting thermals. From the afternoon, however, conditions are usually too extreme for even expert flyers.

Who should I contact?

Rocky Mountain Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (RMHPA).

About the site…

Found west of Locust Street, the North Boulder site is used by pilots of all abilities. Having said that, morning is best for less experienced flyers. All Boulder flyers must be members of USHPA and RMHPA. Nearby private property owned by Scott Westfall is to be avoided: flyers can only launch from here if specifically invited.

Telluride.

In the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, you can enjoy stunning panoramic vistas. Flying in Telluride provides sights of valleys and lakes, and offers a bird’s-eye view of the seemingly infinite treetops.

As one of the most extreme flying locations in Colorado, less experienced flyers should opt to undertake a tandem flight with a highly experienced pilot. Even experienced flyers should consult with a Telluride expert before heading out.

Who should I contact?

The Telluride Air Force (TAF).

About the site…

Telluride flyers typically launch from Gold Hill. USHPA-P3 and H3 flyers are permitted to fly in mild conditions while more challenging weather conditions require pilots to have a USHPA-P4 rating.

If you find yourself in Colorado, make sure to check out some of these paragliding hotspots to reap the best of what this mountainous western state has to offer.

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