If you’ve been enjoying Horizon Zero Dawn in recent weeks, you don’t need to be told about the gorgeous environments the game boasts. The mountains, forests, and deserts of the game make for remarkable scenery, and astute observers will quickly recognize this is far more than a fantasy landscape. The world of Horizon is strongly based on the geography of real-world Colorado and Utah, and many of the vantage points you see in the game have real-world analogues you can visit. And you won’t even have to deal with killer robots along the way.
Here’s our guide to a straight-up awesome road trip vacation that you could take in the real world, taking you past many of Aloy’s sites of adventure, and simultaneously letting you visit some of America’s most beautiful and engaging vacation spots.
Note that the following includes minor spoilers for the locations visited and adventures undertaken during Horizon: Zero Dawn, but in every instance we’ve made a point to avoid discussing major plot points.
For the actual map of one potential route between the locations, here’s a link to a full Google Maps set of directions. You can check out a snapshot of that route below. Take the whole route, or pick your start and stop points along the way.
And just so you know where this info is coming from, you can check out the below in-game map of Horizon, with all the vantage points labeled. Note that our road trip doesn’t take you to every single vantage point (Faro Automated Solutions isn’t a real place). Also, it’s clear that several specific locations aren’t labeled by their real names in the game; for instance, the Air Force Academy becomes the Air Combat Academy. Finally, it’s interesting to note that a few locations in-game aren’t exactly where they are in the real world – but they’re often quite close.
Without any further ado, here’s our suggestion for your next vacation.
First Stop: Colorado Springs
Fly or drive into Colorado Springs and set aside a few days to explore. In the game, Colorado Springs sits near where Aloy grew up, and squarely under the view of the Nora tribe. In the real world, the city and its environs offers plenty to discover, including the nearby Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, and the Ute Valley Park. You can also head over to one of the game’s other vantage points, the Pioneers Museum (named the Explorer Museum in the game), which highlights the history of the region.
Second Stop: Air Force Academy
While making your way north from Colorado Springs, plan a stop at the U.S. Air Force Academy, which allows visitors to tour its campus. In the game, this locale serves as a hub for the military during the days before the collapse of civilization, but in the real world it remains a preeminent educational institution for Air Force cadets.
Third Stop: Denver
In Aloy’s world, approximately 1,000 years in the future, Denver has been overrun by both nature and machines, and its once towering buildings mostly destroyed. Today, Denver makes for a great urban stop in your cross-country vacation, including a great zoo, art museum, and certainly a stop at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science; the dinosaur fossil displays there should bring back memories of fighting Thunderjaws in the game. Try to catch a game at one Denver's sports arenas in honor of the in-game vantage point of Denver Stadium.
Fourth Stop: Red Rock Ampitheater
This locale carries a different name in the game, but there’s no mistaking the sloped outdoor seating of this famous concert site. In the game, this locale is a corrupted zone, dominated by red-tinged dinosaur-like machines. In the real-world, there are lots of reasons to make a stop after you’re finished exploring Denver’s interior. Beyond the opportunity to catch a show on the big stage, the surrounding areas offer ample opportunities for hiking through sandstone cliffs.
Next Page: Continue your vacation west as you cross the mountains into Utah.