RTD is waiving its fares this month to combat air pollution. To help you take advantage of the feel-good moment, the team here at Corken + Company has rounded up five of the Front Range’s best outdoor adventures reachable by bus and rail.
Carson Nature Center and South Platte Park
The D light rail line terminates at the Littleton-Mineral station, just a five-minute walk from this 880-acre open space and education center. Pack a rod: You’ll find smallmouth bass and trout in its five small lakes and in the neighboring South Platte River itself. Man-made rapids also make this stretch of river a popular tubing spot, but be sure to check the water levels first. If you have a bike (they’re allowed on all light rail lines), Chatfield State Park is a 15-minute ride down the Mary Carter Greenway Trail and has 26 miles of paths to explore. Cool off after your ride at the reservoir’s swim beach, open through Labor Day.
Indian Peaks Wilderness
The NB1 bus line runs from downtown Boulder (get there on the Flatiron Flyer, RTD’s express bus between Denver’s Union Station and the People’s Republic) to Nederland High School. From there, pick up the always-free weekend shuttle to the popular Hessie trailhead, a gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. If you’ve managed to snag a camping permit, you can backpack deep into the wild without ever getting in a car, a rare treat anywhere in the Rockies. If you haven’t, a day hike to Lost Lake or King Lake will still scratch your backcountry itch.
Cherry Creek State Park
On warm summer weekends, there’s almost always a line of cars waiting to get into Cherry Creek State Park. Cyclists can ride right on in for free through The Dayton light rail station. Serviced by the H and R lines, which is a 10-minute pedal from the park entrance on West Lake View Road. There are 35 miles of multi-use trails, but we recommend making it a bi-modal adventure by signing up for a sailing course with Community Sailing of Colorado, which has outings and classes on the park’s namesake reservoir.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Not to be left out, the Colorado Department of Transportation is offering half-price fares this month on its Bustang routes. So it costs just $2.50 to take the weekend bus from Denver’s Union Station (get there for free on RTD’s A, B, E, G, N, and W light rail lines) to Rocky Mountain National Park’s Park and Ride Transit Hub (entrance fee required). From there, take the free Bear Lake or Moraine Park in-park shuttles to the final destination of your choice. Including Moraine Park Campground, Sprague Lake, and Bierstadt Lake, Glacier Gorge, and Cup Lake trailheads. If you don’t want to miss Estes Park, you can take the Hiker Shuttle from RMNP to its visitor center. This is where the Bustang will take you back to Denver once you’ve had your fill of the mountain town. (Don’t know where to start? Our Estes Park First-Timer’s Guide has you covered.)
RTD’s W light rail line runs from Union Station to the Jefferson County Government Center. You may know, the golden-domed building you see off to the left of I-70 back to Denver from the mountains). From there, it’s just more than a mile and a half to Apex Park. It’s a good warm-up for cyclists looking to tackle the long, sometimes grueling climb to the Enchanted Forest Trail. A fast, root-filled descent that can feel more like riding in the Pacific Northwest than Colorado’s typical moondust. Beware, Enchanted Forest is only open to cyclists on even-numbered days.