There’s no doubt about it – with an almost 20% increase in growth since 2010, Denver is much more crowded than it used to be. Fortunately for residents, the capital city also happens to be in close proximity to some of the best destinations for natural scenery and culture in the United States. We’re talking mountains, plains, stunning views and unbelievable adventure!
All this to say, our team at Corken + Company felt that you NEEDED this list of day trip options. All of which average only about an hour and a half drive or less out of town.
Rocky Mountain National Park/Estes Park
Folks from around the world travel far and wide to experience the natural wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park, but Denverites merely need to hop in the car and drive an hour and a half north to get there. Rocky Mountain National Park boasts 415 square miles of pristine mountainous terrain to explore, which is packed with 300 miles of hiking trails, a perfect antidote to Denver’s growing traffic woes.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers conventional and wilderness camping, fishing, a plethora of wildlife to appreciate, and the Trail Ridge Road, which gives visitors astounding Rocky Mountain views from a 12,000 ft. perspective. However, we should note that weather conditions this high tend to get extreme, so the Trail Ridge Road and some of the park’s other offerings aren’t accessible during Colorado’s colder months.
If Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t enough to sell you on this day trip, the charming mountain town of Estes Park just down the road should do the trick. With plenty of whitewater rafting, golfing, and climbing options to explore and delectable restaurants to dine in, Estes Park is the quintessential Colorado mountain town.
Pikes Peak Region
An hour and a half drive south from Denver offers some stunning natural wonders and a slowed down pace compared to life in Colorado’s largest city. Cave of the Winds is a mountain park home to a massive network of caves to explore through guided tours. Some tours are lit by handheld lanterns and others that require visitors to crawl and squeeze their way through narrow openings.
Nearby Pikes Peak is a famous mountain destination suited for ambitious climbing fanatics and road-tripping families alike. Described as an “ultra-prominent peak” for its impressive topographic prominence, this 14,115-foot beast offers challenging climbing routes and a mountainous highway letting the non-athletic among us ascend the peak’s summit.
Sitting just between the city of Colorado Springs and the front range is the stunning Garden of The Gods Visitor and Nature Center. From climbing, biking, and jeeping adventures to trails ideal for meditation and relaxation, the otherworldly red rock backdrop of Garden of The Gods is a perfect setting for whatever outdoor plans you have.
Central City/Black Hawk
Many Denver residents fly to Las Vegas to get their gambling fix when there’s great, legal options under an hour’s drive to the west. Situated in Gilpin County, Central City and Blackhawk region might not be very large, but it’s home to some of the state’s most interesting history stories.
For example, there was a time when Central City had more money and culture than Denver, and was so influential in the region that it almost became the capital when Colorado officially achieved statehood in 1876. Today, Blackhawk and Central City are ideal for a quick trip to gamble, explore gorgeous mountain environments, and dine in establishments that embrace the look, feel, and fare of the old mountain west. Central City and Black Hawk are similar places, but feature important unique characteristics aimed at serving different crowds.
With streets lined with authentic salons, hotels, and casinos, Central City is the quieter city of the two, and is geared more towards history lovers and families. After visiting the town’s notable attractions like the Central City Opera House, consider a five minute drive to an old ghost town, Nevadaville.
Boulder and Nederland are two very different Colorado day trip destinations with a lot to offer Denver residents. Boulder is a near perfect blend of city and nature. Flanked by mountains and approachable hiking trails and bike paths, the city has become a bona fide internationally recognized culinary destination in recent years, as evidenced by restaurants like Frasca Food and Wine, which picked up a James Beard Award earlier this year.
A day trip can be topped off with an evening show at one of the city’s incredible music venues including the Fox Theater, Boulder Theater, or the beloved Chautauqua Auditorium.
Tucked up away in the mountains, the town of Nederland is Boulder’s unpretentious and eccentric little sister. This small community is an excellent home base for mountain adventures like fishing, rock climbing, and backpacking. With an elevation of 8,228 feet, Nederland is close to Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, so this day trip is for you if you’re looking for a charming mountain town surrounded by gorgeous Colorado nature.
Contributions from: https://www.uncovercolorado.com/best-day-trips-near-denver-co/