American Truck Simulator: Colorado – Is it worth it?

The map of American Truck Simulator has officially pushed west with the new expansion of Colorado. Now, players will be able to explore the Centennial State. Featuring 13 cities on the map, there’s a lot to explore as you conquer the Rocky Mountains and explore a swath of the Great Plains, and plenty of different natural features like canyons, forests, and rivers. In the roughly eight hours it took me to explore this new state, I must say, Colorado is quite the experience.

Headed west

My first point of contact with the state was the tiny town of Rangley in the extreme northwestern corner of the map. Driving in from Utah, the scenery wasn’t initially all that different; plenty of dry, rocky terrain with a lot of rustic, backcountry architecture. As I moved further west, I eventually came to the cozy town of Steamboat Springs. This was my first true taste of what the rest of American Truck Simulator’s Colorado would have to offer.

Not only did the terrain start to get more hilly with mountains in the distance, but the greenery around Steamboat Springs was something to behold. I absolutely love its modern, “woodsy” architecture. Driving through some of the neighborhoods honestly made me think: “I could live here.” And honestly, that was a line that kept poking into my brain the more that I explored the state.

American Truck Simulator Colorado Welcome

After pushing further westward towards Sterling, my GPS initially had me going towards Fort Collins. But, what lies between there and Steamboat Springs is the Rocky Mountain National Park. At first, I was excited to see what the park would be like, but that was short-lived. The team at SCS did its homework, as there were several signs posted outside of the limits of the park which warned that commercial trucks driving through the park was prohibited. This is true in real life; trucking is not allowed in any U.S. national park. When pulling up to the entrance, the GPS even flashed to say: “You have to turn around.” But, here’s the thing. I was allowed to enter the park scott-free, and so I thought: “Guess the warnings were for show.” But, no less than 60 seconds later, I was slammed with a $1,400 fee for “illegal trailer usage”. I figured I would keep getting charged if I pressed on, so I shamefully turned around and headed south towards the outskirts of Denver to get to Sterling using Interstate 70 instead.

While riding along this portion of I70, I noticed a section of the road dedicated as the runaway truck ramp; meant to stop trucks whose brakes have failed. You see, many parts of the major roads in Colorado are extremely steep; there’s hardly a flat part of the map. While your brakes shouldn’t fail you here in American Truck Simulator, it looks like SCS still felt the need to stay close to the source material. It’s a neat feature you’ll see regularly throughout the map.

“I’ve been Rocky Mountain climbin’”

I eventually did get to Sterling and decided to backtrack to Fort Collins, which lies to the northeast. I figured I might as well check out the national park after all, and ventured through without an offending trailer. The drive is absolutely worth it as the park has some gorgeous scenery.

American Truck Simulator Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park

It’s a nice, winding drive through the Rockies featuring incredibly tall forested areas and super steep cliffs all around. Of course, there was a special “Viewpoint” cinematic spot along the way. There are actually a handful of these scattered around the map. When I watched these back in Idaho, I was impressed with all the work SCS’ scenery designers had accomplished. But, this time, I honestly think the team pushed even further, as the sheer scale of Colorado’s scenery is simply gorgeous. The Rocky Mountain National Park was just my first taste of this accomplishment from the team.

After the short road hike through the park, my journey continued on to explore Burlington, to the very east of the map. While I don’t know if it has any affiliation with the Burlington Coat Factory retailer, this little town served as the origin point for a fresh delivery to one of the major attractions of the Colorado DLC, the Denver International Airport.

A tall order

Located outside the main city, Denver International’s terminal is modeled pretty decently here in ATS. Unsurprisingly, most of it is not accessible with your truck, though the one area you can drive to is the cargo terminal. Here, there are several large aircraft sitting on the apron. One of them seems to be based on the Antonov An-225— a massive, six-engined cargo jet. It’s the largest aircraft currently and is so big, you can drive your truck through its fuselage. And rather than just tease us, the devs actually allow players to do exactly that with a handy ramp placed at the mouth of the airplane’s massive cargo door. It’s mind-boggling to see a plane large enough to fit an entire semi-truck inside.

Denver International Airport

From this point, I picked up one the special deliveries (which spawn in Denver, Sterling, and Colorado Springs). This took me on a fairly lengthy convoy east to Grand Junction. Driving along this route via I70 once again, this part of the highway will take you through Glenwood Canyon and over the Colorado River. Just like the national park, I was astounded by the stunning beauty of the canyon. The detail of the cliff faces is amazing and again shows the painstaking work that SCS’ scenery designers put into the game. It’s no wonder these maps take so long to come out, but the wait is worth it when the eye-candy is this sweet.

After stopping in Grand Junction, I finally began to drive south again from there, now heading into the small town of Montrose before moving east again for the last time, in order to visit Pueblo. Going to Pueblo via State Road 50, this took me on another twisty journey through a canyon. While not as beautiful as Glenwood, it still looked pretty intimidating with its sharp, rocky cliffsides.

Mellowing out

After Pueblo, I was finally able to briefly venture north to check out Colorado Springs, which is the second major city in the state. It sports a skyline similar to Denver, though notably smaller. Still, the urban sprawl here stands out compared to the smaller cities and towns which seem to be totally swallowed by the natural features around them. Though relatively close to the drier Pueblo here in ATS, I found Colorado Springs to be far greener and thus a tad prettier. After leaving there, I pushed south to the western corner of the map, where the town of Lamar can be found. Along the route to the town, I finally caught a glimpse of some of Colorado’s beautiful farmlands. This is easily the flattest part of the state, though the Rockies are still relatively visible off in the distance.

Glenwood Canyon

From Lamar, I made the final push west to visit the rest of Colorado’s southern cities. First up was the drive to Alamosa, which took me through a pretty big wind farm with dozens of turbines spinning about. It’s no surprise that such a nature-focused state as Colorado has a sizeable source of green energy.

The final part of my Colorado road trip took me from Alamosa to Durango. This was technically the slowest portion of the whole journey, as it involved meandering through the twisty roads of Wolf Creek Pass which SR 160 runs through. The flat plains didn’t last very long, as this was quite the opposite. Certainly, Colorado is not the best place if you’re afraid of heights. Many of the settlements rendered here in American Truck Simulator are several thousand feet above sea level, so life in Colorado is a bit different than living in a flatter part of the world. Nonetheless, it sure does make for some gorgeous views.

Bombastic beauty

If it wasn’t obvious already, my time in virtual Colorado via American Truck Simulator was most enjoyable. After the beauty that was the Utah expansion and also the Idaho expansion, I expected Colorado to be “more of the same” (in a good way). But to my surprise, SCS went above and beyond with this expansion to deliver what I think is the most beautiful state to date in American Truck Simulator.

These continuous upgrades in both quality (and quantity) are truly impressive due to the fact that ATS is now four years old and continues to use tech that’s clearly not next-gen. And, keep in mind that this studio is not that big and is also simultaneously working on ATS’ sibling, ETS 2. Despite these hurdles, SCS Software manages to offer some serious levels of craftsmanship with each new expansion. As I think I’ve said with every prior expansion, whether you’re a truck sim veteran or a curious newbie, checking out these virtual sights is worth the dough — especially in these trying times of travel restrictions. Here’s looking forward to the next road trip!

Colorado Beauty